With its foundation in Buddhist tradition, mindfulness is not a new concept and has been used extensively in psychological and therapeutic contexts. Mindfulness has increasingly become part of leadership and management development to the point where we can now speak about corporate mindfulness.
Corporate Mindfulness: The Next Frontier?
While it may not yet be mainstream, many organisations have offered some form of mindfulness training to their employees. Companies such as Transport for London, Google, Toyota and Disney are starting to support the value of teaching and applying mindfulness techniques in the workplace.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness focuses broadly on the concepts of self-awareness and focus on the present
There are numerous definitions of mindfulness but most focus broadly on the concepts of:
- focus on the present
Mindfulness is paying active attention to the present moment and observing our own thoughts and reactions without judgment.
Mindfulness is most often practised through meditation and breathing exercises but the key is to find techniques that allow us to switch off from outward distractions and focus inwards for at least a short time every day.
As little as ten minutes every day is said to make a real difference.
Mindfulness is most often practised through meditation and breathing exercises but the key is to find techniques that allow us to switch off from outward distractions
The Benefits of Mindfulness
While research on its impact is still at a relatively early stage, it does seem that if practised regularly mindfulness helps us to experience both our personal and professional lives more positively, to manage our reactions and emotions in a more healthy way and to become more resilient.
In the workplace, mindfulness helps us to be more focused and therefore more productive. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking can often cost rather than saves us money and time and if we can be more present and focused on each task it is likely that we will achieve more.
Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking can often cost rather than saves us money
Corporate mindfulness enables us to be more present, not only in our tasks but also in our conversations and interactions with others. We are likely to listen more attentively and as a result, understand more and create greater rapport with those we work with.
Mindful people are usually better communicators
Mindful people are usually better communicators. They listen and reflect before responding and can reduce potential conflictive situations as they are better able to self-regulate and avoiding judging others.
Corporate Mindfulness: its impact on stress
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness also helps us to develop techniques and mechanisms for coping with stress. It enables us to feel calmer in stressful situations, to avoid stress-inducing situations and to regulate and monitor our responses to stress.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme says: ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’.
With many organisations expecting more and more from their employees with fewer and fewer resources perhaps the question that should be asked is why is mindfulness not already part of the curriculum rather than why to invest in something so seemingly ‘new age’ and intangible?