Chances are, you’ve been hearing more and more about mindfulness over the past few years, especially in the workplace. Mindfulness has become a popular antidote to our high-stress, fast-paced and high-distraction culture. And what’s more, there is evidence to support the fact that regular meditation and mindful practices lead to greater levels of resilience and improved well-being.1 These qualities can be highly beneficial for supporting a healthier, happier and more focused team. Beyond these benefits, mindfulness is also a powerful tool for developing leadership skills. Mindfulness principles set a solid foundation for training more effective and influential leaders that contribute to business growth and help foster a healthy culture.
What It Means to Create a Mindful Culture
Human dynamics is the most confusing and difficult, yet central factor to workplace culture. The levels of trust, collaboration and creativity within a company rely heavily on its teams’ collective emotional intelligence. All interpersonal breakdowns begin with individual employees and the challenges we face in identifying, understanding and processing our own emotions and reactions to situations within the workplace.
A mindful culture takes shape when leaders and employees start to develop strong emotional awareness. It’s about recognizing how you’re affected by a situation, labeling those emotions and accepting them. This allows us to be less defensive and more understanding and fosters greater trust and respect among co-workers. For managers and executives, getting trained in mindfulness can reap big rewards. The relationship an employee has with their boss is arguably the biggest factor in retaining that employee. Having an emotionally aware manager enables that employee to have honest conversations that make them feel like they are being not just heard but also understood. Among peers and team members, higher emotional awareness leads to more compassion and empathy and less dysfunction and gossip.
In terms of focus and productivity, we all know that the modern working world unwittingly encourages high levels of distraction, competing demands and pressure to stay connected even after work hours. Mindfulness actually rewires pathways of the brain, which can help combat what technology and the modern working world have done in causing employees to be more unfocused and distracted. Regular meditation — a key mindfulness practice — trains the brain to behave in a manner that improves focus and reduces stress responses. This can lead to more innovative thinking and meaningful business results.
Empowering Employees to Better Serve Clients
Creating a mindful culture doesn’t just benefit workplace relationships; it also improves the ways your employees interact with clients, which enhances their experience and makes them more satisfied and loyal to your business. Not only do happier employees provide better service, but the ability to empathize and listen leads to deeper client relationships. In the financial services industry, developing the ability to listen to and empathize with clients is a skill at the top of the list for advisors. Relationships are built on trust, and when advisors have compassion for their clients’ experiences and needs, they are more capable of creating better solutions for them. When advisors listen, they don’t miss the key details or the opportunities to build on the relationship and make a difference for that client.
How to Create a Mindful Culture
Formal training is a necessary starting point for implementing mindfulness into your existing culture. There are many resources available for businesses looking to incorporate mindfulness into their employee experience and skillset. There are workshops that your leaders can attend to learn how to be mindful, there are trainers that can come into your office to perform trainings with all levels of employees, and there are trainers you can hire to work in-house and fully develop a culture of mindfulness.
There are even apps employees can download on their mobile devices that create teachings and meditations based on a particular stressful situation. It’s never been easier to develop mindfulness — or to continue practicing it every day.
When you train leaders in mindfulness, you see techniques such as reframing in action. When a team member is feeling frustrated that they didn’t get the results they wanted in a meeting or on a project, a mindful manager can help them reframe their response. Asking them where they did make progress and what benefits they can take away from the situation helps them recognize what they did accomplish so that they can move forward with optimism.
Thought recognition is another technique. We all have assumptions we make about another person that seem to blow up in our heads until we feel frustrated and unable to collaborate with someone. Pausing to ask what you know about this person is true and what may not be true can inspire compassion and help you approach them in a different way. It can be key to solving workplace tension.
Can Mindfulness Help Your Organization Become More Productive?
Mindfulness (and meditation) has definitely become more mainstream this decade, inviting much curiosity around its practices and benefits both within the workplace and in our daily lives. Studies are popping up showing how it affects health and well-being, creating a solid scientific background of the benefits behind mindfulness in dealing with modern challenges and helping managers and executives become better leaders.
If you’re interested in implementing mindfulness, but would also like to explore other tactics for improving your company culture, be sure to read this article next and discover how you can further align your employees’ personal values and beliefs with your organization.