April 11, 2014 Tracy Freese

Is Mindfulness the New Caffeine?

Does your work environment need a double shot? Instead of an industrial sized Tassimo, would your office benefit more from positive concentration and wisdom? Mindfulness, a growing trend in organizational culture, is producing more productivity than any cup of coffee. Mentally fatigued workers are invited to take a moment and refocus his or her energy to live in the present moment. Mindful meditation sessions are led by meditation experts in the work environment. The results are more positive employees, recharged productivity and an added employer wellness fringe benefit. Mindful meditation sessions have gained the reputation of “gym for the mind” because of the wide array of mental fitness properties it produces.

The correlation between caffeine and mindfulness is commonly misjudged. The act of stimulating your brain through energy drinks and coffee ignores the fact that your mind is unable to be present for whatever business task is at hand. Stimulating that lack of focus leads to distraction. Mindfulness allows employee minds to reboot. The result is heightened patience and awareness. Beyond creating harmonious office environments, mindfulness has been linked with higher employee productivity. People that practice high mindfulness take better control over his or her emotions and resist negative behaviors during the workday.

Mindful meditation in the workplace has garnered the attention of such reputable news outlets as TIME and The Guardian. Most recently, The Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute published findings that link mindful wellness programs to decreased employee burnout, a common struggle especially for upper managers. The findings point out that stimulated office efficiency can increase productivity only to a point and then performance drops off dramatically. The scenario sounds suspiciously similar to the effects of caffeine.

Employee burnout is frequent and costly. Employees can experience stress at work for short periods without negative impacts, however, eventually stress becomes unhealthy. Stress occurs from simple things like a negative coworker or poor customer relations, but when the stress becomes long-term and pervasive, the employee’s view of the work environment turns toxic. Oftentimes the toxicity of a stressful work environment forces employees to either cope or quit. Mindful meditation allows stressed employees to rearrange his or her negative stressors and communicate positively.

The ever-changing business landscape creates information overload. Employees are many times juggling four to five different communication channels each day. Loss of focus becomes the primary distraction to efficiency and innovation. Mindful meditation asks workers to stop thinking of the future and live for the present moment. Mindfulness encourages employees to stop judging a task based on preconceived notions and instead find presence of mind to effectively engage results right now. The approach empowers employees to build on her or his strengths, not dwell on weaknesses.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about falling asleep. Mindful meditation encourages workers to acknowledge distractions and seize the moment for exactly what it is – nothing more. A growing trend in global companies such as General Mills and Ebay, workplace meditation is producing results and having positive effects on employee retention. A slow transition is occurring where stressful unfeeling work environments are being replaced with flexible open ecosystems. Employers that stay ahead of this trend will recruit the best talent, minimize employee burnout, and increase productivity beyond a 2 o’clock crash and burn.


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