Psychology Today – Oct 23, 2018
Mindfulness in the workplace can improve productivity and more.
A new study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology has found that mindfulness training offered in the workplace can improve productivity and work-life balance. The randomized controlled study was conducted in a 60-person marketing firm and compared a 6-week versus half-day seminar on mindfulness.
Mindfulness involves the art of paying attention and being curious about the present moment without judging or being critical. Researchers found that a 6-week mindfulness training program was more helpful than a half-day seminar to improve attention, self-reported job satisfaction, and a positive attitude toward work. These findings are part of a growing body of research suggesting that mindfulness improves job satisfaction, rational thinking, and emotional resilience.
Other researchers have suggested that mindfulness could reduce motivation in employees, potentially neutralizing its positive effect on performance. In a recent study published in the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, researchers found that mindfulness did not improve performance on tasks. They suggested that mindfulness teaches one to be more accepting and less concerned about the future. People were calmer and more focused, but expected to put in less time and energy into a task.
However, tasks at work vary in scope, timeline, and complexity. Over the long-term, possessing more calmness, patience, and resilience likely helps people more effectively approach and problem-solve challenging tasks over time.
The regular practice of mindfulness has been linked to better stress management and work-life balance as well as long-term mental and physical health. Mindfulness has even been linked to younger, healthier brains in brain imaging studies and slows aging at the genetic level. Mindfulness has also been shown to significantly lower health care costs.
Mindfulness in the workplace is most likely beneficial, whether the end goal is productivity or – more broadly speaking – employee wellness. A 6- to 8-week training program that goes beyond a half-day seminar is more likely to be effective.
If employers are looking for ways to improve job satisfaction, productivity, and potentially lower costs, the practice of mindfulness in the workplace is a worthwhile long-term investment.