Mindfulness is a tool that can lift an entire workplace.
A new comprehensive analysis of mindfulness research, co-directed by a management scientist at Case Western Reserve University, suggested that the latter—that injecting a corporate culture of mindfulness not only improves focus, but the capability to manage stress and how employees can work together.
“Historically, companies have been reserved to provide mindfulness training because it was seen as something fluffy, esoteric and spiritual,” said Christopher Lyddy, an organizational behavior doctoral candidate at Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management. “But that’s changing.”
“When you are mindful, you can have a greater consciousness in the present,” Lyddy said. “That’s vital for any executive or manager, who, at any given moment, may be barraged with various problems that call for decisions under stress.”
Among the new study’s conclusions:
- Mindfulness appears to positively impact human functioning overall. Research in such disciplines as psychology, neuroscience and medicine provide a wealth of evidence that mindfulness improves attention, cognition, emotions, behavior and physiology.
- Specifically, mindfulness has been shown to boost three qualities of attention—stability, control and efficiency. The human mind is estimated to wander roughly half of our waking hours, but mindfulness can stabilize attention in the present. Individuals who completed mindfulness training were shown to remain vigilant longer on both visual and listening tasks.
- Although mindfulness is an individual quality, initial evidence suggested that it affects interpersonal behavior and workgroup relationships.
- Mindfulness may improve relationships through greater empathy and compassion—suggesting mindfulness training could increase workplace processes that rely on effective leadership and teamwork.
Lyddy said the research indicating important and diverse benefits of mindfulness coincides with growing practical interest in mindfulness training nationally and worldwide. For example, British Parliament has recently launched a mindfulness initiative called “Mindful Nation UK” that leverages mindfulness to benefit diverse sectors and improve national health, productivity and flourishing.