The Mindful Workplace Response to Covid 19 

The Covid 19 pandemic and the consequential changes to the way we work, across the globe, have made workplace mindfulness more relevant than ever before. The way we communicate with our colleagues, treat our fellow commuters if we are needing to travel to work, and manage our stress, is more challenging and important than at any time in our recent history. Workplace mindfulness can help our organisations, our teams and ourselves adapt, whether we face remote working, social distancing or other changes to our working lives. 

Before the Pandemic, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive reported:

“The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19 was 602,000, a prevalence rate of 1,800 per 100,000 workers.”…“The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2018/19 was 12.8 million days.” (Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2019)

The “Thriving at Work” report estimated: “Poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year” (Stevenson/Farnmer Review 2017)

With such a high cost on individuals and the economy, the impact of workplace stress could not be ignored then and is likely to be even more pressing now. With an ever-increasing body of neuroscience evidence indicating that mindfulness practice can help reduce people’s stress and improve performance, mindfulness in the workplace can offer a toolkit in these extraordinary times and beyond. 

The Mindful Workplace Community 

The Mindfulness Initiative is committed to supporting the growing number of organisations who are investing in mindfulness in their workplace and enabling them to share their vision and experience with organisations that are starting to implement workplace mindfulness and are keen to learn how they have succeeded and what the benefits have been. To this end The Mindfulness Initiative created the Mindful Workplace Community. This has become the international, professional network for champions of mindfulness in the workplace. It provides a place where inspiration, best practice and resources can be shared. With corporate members and partners including Roche, Lloyds Bank Plc, Leeds Building Society , Search Inside Youself, Madworld and Dentons Global Law Firm, and individual members from the UK, EU and the USA, this growing international community is an exciting addition to the Mindfulness Initiative landscape and we would encourage you to join and become part of the Community.


Visit the website mindfulworkplace.community or watch the video of the launch event to find out more.

Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace 

The Mindfulness Initiative also created one of the most widely read and trusted sources of information about workplace mindfulness globally. The Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace document has been downloaded tens of thousands of times and has perhaps helped champions to bring mindfulness to millions of colleagues around the world.

About workplace mindfulness training

There is enormous variety in the way mindfulness training is delivered in the workplace, from teacher-led courses based on MBCT/MBSR -  often with shorter sessions and lighter ‘home practice’ than in health care settings - through to digital delivery as a way of increasing access. Courses are increasingly designed to be accessible to workplace environments.

 

Why is this beneficial?

In today’s business world people are more stressed and comparatively less able to make effective decisions (Dean & Webb, 2011).  According to recent research, 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can help debias decisions (Hafenbrack et al., 2014). After engaging in mindfulness training 4 times for 20 minutes each, individuals’ memory and executive functioning can significantly improve (Zeidan et al., 2010).

 

What is the scientific evidence linking mindfulness with performance?

Mindfulness is linked with improved decision-making (Fiol & O'Connor, 2003), divergent thinking (Colzato et al., 2012), and creative problem solving (Ostafin & Kassman, 2012); Mindfulness can improve employee task performance (Dane, 2010; Reb et al., 2012), lower turnover intentions (Dane & Brummel, 2013), and safety performance behaviours in nuclear power plants (Zhang et al., 2013); Experimental studies with US military demonstrate that mindfulness training can generate resilience (Stanley & Jha, 2009) and increase individuals’ working memory capacity (Jha et al., 2010); Mindfulness-based work interventions can lead to higher sales and faster learning (Flaxman & Bond, 2013), and fewer errors in attention processing (van den Hurk et al., 2010); Mindfulness meditation is linked to higher emotional intelligence (Li-Chuan, 2009); Mindfulness based stress reduction programmes can lead to lower burnout and higher well-being for healthcare professionals (Goodman & Schorling, 2012) and their patient encounters (Knowles, 2012).


Which organisations have implemented mindfulness programmes?

In addition to our corporate members the following organisations have established workplace mindfulness programmes: AOL, Apple, Astra Zeneca, BASF, BT, Comcast, Deutsche Bank, eBay, General Motors, Google, IBM, McKinsey, Nortel Networks, Procter & Gamble, SAP Texas Instruments, Transport for London, Toyota, Unilever, Volvo, Xerox, Yahoo!

Further Resources

Books

Chapman-Clarke, Margaret. Mindfulness in the Workplace: An Evidence-based Approach to Improving Wellbeing and Enhancing Performance, Kogan Page, 2016.

Chaskalson, Michael. The mindful workplace: developing resilient individuals and resonant organizations with MBSR. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Gelles, David. The mind business. Profile Books, 2015.

McNeill, Andrew. Organisational Mindfulness – a how to guide, 2019

Marturano, Janice. Finding the space to lead: A practical guide to mindful leadership. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2014.

Reb, Jochen. Mindfulness in Organizations: Foundations, Research, and Applications. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Tan, Chade-Meng. Search inside yourself. Harper Audio, 2012. 

 

Web Resources

Bangor Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice
Mindful.org  (search under 'Workplace')
Oxford Mindfulness Center
Breathworks - Mindfulness CIC