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How Mindfulness Leads to a More Productive Work Environment

4 Mins read

Work cultures have undergone a tremendous shift in the last several years. Uprooted by the effects of the pandemic and the stress-induced, fast-paced nature of the business world, it has left many depleted and employers looking for ways to support their teams. From boardrooms to cubicles and home offices, the effects are noticeable.

Many are turning to mindfulness programs in the workplace to elevate morale, reduce stress, prevent burnout, improve mental clarity and intentionally move toward a more balanced lifestyle. This encompasses a need to take time to realign and check in with our current state of being. It also means dedicated time where employees benefit from wellness programs centered around the mind, body and spirit, incorporating the principles of yoga and meditation to remarkable results.

Mindfulness brings full awareness to the present moment without judgment. The practice of actively shifting our thought processes has been used for centuries in ancient cultures. It is now at the forefront of many employer incentives and wellness initiatives, as well as recognition by the scientific community. The realization that a happier work environment where the focus is not only on the company but also on its valued employees is bringing the U.S. workforce closer to what other countries have implemented for years.

Mindfulness Enters the Workplace

Incorporating mindfulness in the workplace in 2024 boosts morale and team cohesiveness while supporting employees’ well-being. Evidence-based programs have proven to reduce the “flight and fright” response common when one undergoes a stress-filled scenario where emotions become overwhelming and affect mental health. It also reduces absenteeism from sickness.

Reports show that stress in the workplace causes nearly $300 billion annually in loss of productivity, almost $200 billion in stress-related illness and one million workers being absent every day.  These alarming statistics have caught the attention of health insurance companies who realize that providing discounts on their group health insurance plans for mindfulness programs benefits everyone in the long run.

The growing trend of integrating mindfulness in the workplace has seen companies like Google, Intel, Apple, The Huffington Post, and Oxford and Harvard Universities implement mindfulness programs with successful results.

Intel implemented Awake @Intel, reaching 100,000 employees in 63 countries and showing decreased stress per a pre- and post-self-assessment questionnaire. Aetna Health Insurance established a yoga and meditation program, with a reported average of 28% reduction in participant stress levels.

While some may argue that a small business is not a candidate for such programs because of prohibitive costs, plenty of benefits outweigh the notion that mindfulness in the workplace is only available to large companies. The amount of sick leave, lost wages and productivity must be considered regardless of company size for any business to function effectively.

Incorporating mindfulness into day-to-day operations changes a company’s culture as much as it improves each individual’s mindset. The practice of self-compassion and developing habits to foster an attitude of gratitude may sound like things one undertakes on one’s own time. However, most Americans spend most of their day at work and among their fellow employees. The case can be made for changing a company’s attitudes, especially one that has shown toxic elements, to one that values mindfulness as a part of its corporate culture.

The Science of Mindfulness

Evidence-based mindfulness, how it affects the brain and the body, and the science behind it have shown tremendous results. For example, in a small study where a 10-week program was conducted using the practice of yoga and meditation with employees of a high-stress corporate client, there were positive outcomes in six areas – stress level, ability to relax when stressed, participant energy level, muscle strength, flexibility and mental clarity.

Further, The National Institute of Health created the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health to support studies of various complements and substitutes to traditional Western medicine. They found that mindfulness practices can decrease the stress hormones the nervous system produces (those natural fight-or-flight animal instincts).

There is a science behind happiness as we gain more and more insight into how we attain a healthier, more positive response to stress, which leads to a more fulfilling career and life.

The Dynamics of Mindfulness for Small Businesses

A more engaged workforce is good for everyone. For example, Wellness Wednesdays are a popular theme among workplaces implementing mindfulness into workdays. Mindfulness activities in the workplace occur in many ways, including workshops, yoga and meditation classes, employee wellness programs, leadership training and web-based programs.

Whether hiring an outside consultant to provide direction or using in-house resources, companies that establish corporate wellness programs with a turnkey solution enhance cross-departmental engagement, where all employees have access to mindfulness training. For example, participants engage in mindful leadership skills, learn to balance their work/life, increase productivity, build resilience, and cultivate gratitude, all through evidence-based mindfulness programs.

In addition to yoga and meditation, workshops on emotional intelligence and well-being, building resilience and grit, connecting and communicating, relieving burnout, cultivating gratitude, and nurturing self-compassion establish a well-rounded wellness program for companies with hundreds of employees to those under 50.

As with paid time off, medical benefits, and other company incentives, mindfulness programs complement any business’s success and hiring practices, including small businesses. Overall, it is evident that mindfulness in the workplace promotes a more collaborative, productive and thriving culture.

Dr. Maitri Vaidya, MS, DBA, FACHE, CPHQ, C-MI – Chief Wellness Officer & Co-Founder at Zesa Wellness: Maitri is a Healthcare Executive transforming care through data-driven, evidence-based, quality initiatives. With a background in Healthcare Quality Management, Population Health, and Mindfulness, Maitri has experienced healthcare’s operational challenges and opportunities across the continuum of care, believing preventive measures is the key to successful health. 

Ashley Hardcastle, MA, CWMF – Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder at Zesa Wellness: Ashley is a seasoned philosophy professor and business professional. She has taught courses at the University of North Texas, Strayer University, and Dallas College. She has developed relationships with start-ups, large companies, universities, investors, and government funding agencies as a business development professional. 

About Zesa Wellness: Zesa, in Sanskrit, means balance, and with Zesa Wellness, you will be exposed to evidence-based mindfulness programs taught through yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. These programs provide skills and tools that aid in balancing the mind and body. Improving the balance of the mind and body inevitably increases our overall health, success, happiness, and well-being. For more information, visit zesawellness.com. Follow them on X @ZesaWellness.

Mindfulness stock image by PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock

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