There’s a reason that companies like General Mills, Goldman Sachs, and Google have incorporated a mindfulness practice into their workplace. According to a Towers & Watson study, “almost six out of 10 (57%) of employees who claimed to be experiencing high stress levels also reported that they felt disengaged.”
High levels of stress not only result in lack of engagement, but increased absenteeism. So if there were ways to improve the bottom line, why wouldn’t you do it?
So what is mindfulness? It's really not that complicated. It's simply, " a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment." It's a practice that helps you to stop worrying about what happened yesterday or stressing about what will happen in the future. If you think about it, isn't that what really stresses you out?
I recently read that in years to come, people will talk about the benefits of mindfulness the way people talk about exercise today. That’s one of the reasons I’m going to attend this year’s Mindful Leadership Conference where people like ABC’s Dan Harris and the Motley Fool’s founder, Tom Gardner will be speaking.
So if you’re ready to accept that mindfulness can help your employees reduce stress and become more engaged, what can you do as a leader and manager?
1. Become Educated. You’ve probably read enough technical books to fill a library. Why not grab something like 25 Lessons in Mindfulness or Congressman Tim Ryan’s book, A Mindful Nation? Start will learning what mindfulness is and what it isn’t.
2. Lead by example. Set aside 20 minutes of your workday to just do nothing. Sit quietly and breathe. If your employees see that it’s okay to chill out for a few minutes a day, they may start doing the same.
3. Educate the team. Have a team meeting where someone comes in to teach the group about ways to reduce stress. If you’re lucky, you might be able to talk your firm into hiring someone like Google’s Chade-Meng Tan, known as the Jolly Good Fellow. He’s a full time employee of the firm and a testament to the importance Google places on mindfulness and stress reduction.
4. Share successes. If you practice the 3 steps above and your team’s engagement level increases and your absenteeism falls, make sure people know about it. Become a catalyst for change within your company.
And if you think that only movie stars practice mindfulness, take a look a the daily habits of Russell Simmons, CEO of Def Jam Records, Robert Stiller, CEO of Green Mountain Coffee, Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post or Oprah, who has her own network. Sometimes it’s okay to jump on the bandwagon and follow a trend.