If you’ve noticed mindfulness at work creeping up in the business world over the past few years, you’re not alone. This trend has become popular among wellness platforms and executive training programs alike. But before you dismiss mindfulness as just another buzzword or fad, you should know it’s backed by extensive research.
In recent years, research has found that mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga, can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as increase feelings of relaxation.
But not only can mindfulness improve mental wellness, it can also help treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
It’s easy to see how mindfulness at work could be beneficial. In fact, incorporating mindfulness practices into the workspace has been shown to increase productivity, lower healthcare costs, and decrease burnout and employee turnover rates.
But you may be wondering, what exactly is mindfulness?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is essentially the practice of being purposefully aware. This can be done through techniques such as meditation, grounding, breathing exercises, and more.
It may sound unlikely that these simple practices could generate such significant results, but research shows mindfulness can actually change the structure of our brains for the better.
Using MRI, scientists have been able to link regular mindfulness practices with increased gray matter in parts of the brain responsible for planning, problem solving, and emotional regulation. Mindfulness may also be linked to improved memory. All of which are great skills to have within an organization.
How Mindfulness at Work Can Reduce Burnout and Employee Turnover Rate
In fact, in March of 2022, the WHO reported a 25% worldwide increase in anxiety and depression. Furthermore, 52% of workers saying they're currently feeling burned out. And according to a study by Deloitte, 77% of those surveyed reported experiencing feelings of burnout at least once in their career.
Sadly, burnout often turns into people quitting their jobs. This leaves employers stuck with the expensive and time-consuming task of onboarding new employees. So much so, studies show the average total cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2X annual salary. Not to mention the emotional hit employee turnover has on morale. Unsurprisingly, most businesses want to avoid employee turnover at all costs.
One way to help achieve this may be through mindfulness. If practicing mindfulness can increase people’s wellbeing, perhaps it can also reduce burnout and increase employee retention rates. According to an article from CanadianNurse.com,
“Highly researched evidence-based programs…have proven that ongoing mindfulness practices in the workplace are able to provide nurses with the mental resiliency and emotional capacity to manage deepening care complexities and ever-changing population health needs.”
When people have the tools they need to cope with stress, they’re more relaxed and resilient employees. They also tend to make loyal and engaged employees.
In addition to the negative effects that stressful working conditions have on employee retention rates, they also lead to higher-than-necessary healthcare costs. Could implementing more mindfulness practices at work reduce employee visits to the doctor? The answer seems to be yes.
Take the insurance giant Aetna, for example. Since starting their mindfulness program, Aetna has estimated they have saved $2,000 per employee in health care costs. Furthermore, they have estimated that practicing mindfulness has increased productivity by $3,000 per employee. That’s essentially a $5,000 boost in earnings by simply practicing mindfulness at work.
In addition, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that people who practice mindfulness and other relaxation techniques reduced their use of healthcare services by 45%, saving each person thousands in healthcare costs (Time.com).
Employees who practice mindfulness seem to get sick less often and are quicker to recover when they do. It seems that these practices lead not only to better mental health, but to better physical health too.
One study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. Research from HeadSpace also shows that happier salespeople sold 37% more than their unhappy counterparts.
Furthermore, when companies have happy employees, they also attract better business. According to Forbes, companies who made it on the “100 Best Companies to Work for List” had a 14% stock increase, compared to 6% for the overall market.
With all this talk about happiness and relaxation, it’s easy to conclude that happier employees outperform unhappy employees. However, you might be surprised by how much. According to a Gallup survey, “companies with engaged employees outperform those without by more than 200%” (Headspace).
While mindfulness won’t be a panacea for every office challenge, it can help transform a good workplace culture into a great one. From decreased burnout and healthcare costs to increased productivity and overall happiness, it’s clear that implementing mindfulness practices at work can benefit not only your employees, but your entire organization as well.
If you’re ready to start implementing mindfulness practices into your work culture, consider building mindfulness into an already-existing wellness program. Why not take it further and take these practices into meetings and gatherings as well? This will help ensure your company's mindfulness practices aren’t just a trend but instead is a part of a truly thriving culture.