Last updated on June 20, 2023 at 05:55 pm
Work can be stressful…okay, let’s rephrase that: work is stressful. But over the last few years, it’s been more stressful than ever. Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workforce report found that 59% of employees reported feeling stress the previous day. When employees are stressed or worried, it can be difficult to bring their best selves to work. Engagement and productivity suffer. But companies have an opportunity to embrace mindfulness in the workplace to help with employee wellbeing and burnout.
What is Mindfulness in the Workplace?
Mindfulness is a practice that helps individuals be more focused, present, and calm in difficult situations and when coping with the everyday stress of their jobs. We know there’s a heavy burden placed on internal communications professionals who are tasked with reaching their essential teams, communicating layoffs or furloughs, and trying to keep employees engaged through this crisis.
We talked with mindfulness and workplace leadership development expert Chantelle Fitzgerald, the founder of Mindset Strategies, to learn about the importance of practicing mindfulness in the workplace and how this can benefit your company.
Interview With Chantelle Fitzgerald
Why is mindfulness important for employees and leaders to practice in the workplace?
Mindfulness is so important to practice in the workplace. It helps us to be present, centered and focused. And it can lead to better productivity, better relationships with colleagues, and overall happier workplace culture and morale.
How can mindfulness help companies and leaders respond to a crisis?
The best thing a leader can do during a crisis is to be still, present, and observe. Watch what is happening around you. Learn everything you can about the situation. And talk to experts at all levels of the organization to get a better understanding of what is going on. Then decide what your next best move is.
Oftentimes leaders can be very reactive. They see something and immediately react to the situation. Training in meditation will help leaders be more present, thoughtful, deliberate, and strategic. And this will help them to make wise decisions for their companies. Ultimately, if mindful leaders can pause, observe, learn, reflect, and then move, they will be ten times better off and improve their bottom line.
How does mindfulness help employees handle workplace stress?
Mindfulness can help employees tremendously. There are many tools to help employees that feel stressed or overwhelmed, which is exactly what my company does. We provide the tools to help employees be more self-aware, focused, grounded, and centered.
Usually, when an employee is stressed, they become so overwhelmed that they don’t get as much accomplished. A popular tool that we teach is a three breaths practice. Take one breath and focus on the inhale. Take another breath and focus on the exhale. And on the last breath, ask yourself, “what is the priority right now?”
This technique helps employees in several ways:
- They are self-aware enough to notice that they are stressed.
- They implemented a tool to help themselves refocus.
- Usually, they feel a little bit better and ready to execute the next task, making them more effective and productive.
How can mindfulness improve the mental health of people at work?
Mindfulness can improve the mental health of individuals at work because it helps to train our minds to be calm. When we practice meditation, over time, we create new neural pathways in the decision-making part of our brain.
So, when we are triggered by a colleague that does something that angers or annoys us, our first instinct will be to pause, not react, and think about our next move. Pausing before we react helps us not cause additional drama in the workplace. But it also helps us create better relationships and increase morale and productivity.
We all have a lot going on. We are taking care of our kids, preparing meals for our families, and doing regular household chores while working at the same time. It is very stressful and overwhelming. Some people might feel quite scattered and find it hard to focus.
A good way to deal with this is to focus on one thing at a time. Try:
- Timing yourself washing the dishes for 10 min and then move on to something else
- Working with your kids on schoolwork for a specific time and then go for a walk
- Answering emails for 30 min and moving on to something else
Doing things in small time increments helps you feel accomplished and productive. It is important to reward yourself and take care of yourself.
This practice of meditation and being mindful of how we are feeling and dealing with that stress is really important. And it’s important whether you’re on the frontline of a hospital or working from home.
What’s the impact of mindfulness on the customer experience?
The impact is HUGE and ENDLESS. When mindfulness is used in the customer experience, it can result in:
- Repeat business
- Increased bottom line
- Better relationships and engagement with customers
- Higher overall satisfaction from both the employee and customer
How does this happen?
In the training my company conducts, we do an exercise where employees are paired up and have to listen to their partners fully. As soon as the exercise is over, participants realize they are not good listeners. This is because typically, people think about what we are going to say next. We want to cut the person off, and we don’t really listen to the other person at all. However, when we debrief at the end of the exercise, people realize the importance of listening and how it feels when we are truly listened to. It is a very powerful exercise.
When employees are present with their customers and fully listen to them and do all they can to support their customers, the customer will feel valued, appreciated, respected, and heard. When these feelings are present, it can lead to much better bottom line outcomes for businesses.
About the Author
Chantelle Fitzgerald is the founder of Mindset Strategies, LLC and an expert in mindfulness in the workplace and leadership development.
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