“Mindfulness” is a popular buzzword that’s seen a lot of attention recently. It’s a state of being present in the moment, a greater awareness of feelings, thoughts and situations. It’s also a positive thing to develop in everyday life and can do a lot of good in the workplace.
So, how can you encourage and reward mindfulness among your employees? Examining mindfulness is a good place to start.
Why Is Workplace Mindfulness Important?
Recent studies show that 80% of employees today feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help to manage it. While some amount of pressure can be healthy, too much stress negatively impacts workers’ health and productivity. If employee stress gets too high, they’ll have trouble focusing or working with others.
Mindfulness can help counteract workplace stressors. Employees’ overall health will improve and they’ll become better workers. When people can manage their feelings better and be attentive to their present situation, they can be more productive and cooperative.
Even small adjustments can help. Studies have shown that pursuing creative hobbies outside of work directly impacts work performance, for example. Employers can make the most of this by rewarding and encouraging workplace mindfulness. Here are seven ways to do that.
1. Make It Easier to Be Mindful
The first step to fostering mindfulness among employees is to remove barriers to it. Employers can’t expect their workers to be very mindful if their work environment doesn’t accommodate mindful practices. Businesses can make it easier by offering more flexible work schedules, creating relaxing interior spaces, or giving employees longer, more frequent breaks.
Employers should also offer and promote mindfulness programs. That could be things like yoga classes, mediation sessions, wellness courses, or anything else that could help employees develop healthy mental habits. It’s best to offer multiple options to meet most people’s needs and interests. When more programs like this are available, workers will have more motivation to practice mindfulness.
2. Publicly Recognize Mindful Behavior
Employers should also look for and recognize mindful behavior in the workplace. Recognition makes people feel accomplished and proud, especially when their peers witness this recognition. Real-world data backs this up, with 68% of companies with recognition programs saying it improves retention.
Look for moments when employees handle a stressful situation well or recognize and meet others’ needs on their own. Then, publicly recognize them. This recognition can happen through regular newsletters highlighting mindful employees in the past period, company blog posts, or random messages to the team.
Whatever form it takes, recognition should be consistent. If one employee receives praise for an action, others should receive it for the same.
3. Offer Financial Incentives
If public recognition isn’t enough, businesses can go a step further and attach financial rewards. Money is a powerful motivator and it’s a welcome surprise if people act mindfully without expecting a concrete reward. Considering 56% of American employees say low pay is a significant cause of workplace stress, financial rewards make appropriate mindfulness incentives.
These rewards can take many forms. They could be cash bonuses, extra paid time off, gift cards, or points to use at company stores. Like with public recognition, though, they must be consistent regardless of their specifics. If one employee gets a cash prize and another gets a gift card, it will likely cause contention.
4. Let Employees Reward Each Other
A more creative approach to rewarding mindfulness is to let employees handle it. Workers may be better suited to rewarding mindful workplace behavior because they understand their co-workers and their situations better than managers. Setting up a program where they can nominate each other for rewards could recognize mindfulness more effectively.
Employers can still integrate financial rewards and public recognition into these schemes. The only difference is that instead of bosses nominating their workers for these rewards, co-workers are.
Another advantage of this type of program is that it builds camaraderie. Nearly half of all Americans report feeling lonelier than normal lately, so a little peer recognition can go a long way.
5. Don’t Penalize the Pursuit of Mindfulness
It’s important to ensure workplace policies don’t penalize mindfulness. While that may seem like it goes without saying, it’s easy to say a business values mindfulness without realizing that its workflows don’t allow it. Employers should review how their businesses operate to ensure they don’t accidentally reprimand employees for pursuing mindfulness.
These issues are often matters of scheduling policies and practices. A company may offer personal days or other forms of time off but effectively penalize workers for using it. It may give these employees extra work or stop them from using other benefits. These practices render the mindfulness benefits of flexible scheduling null and void, so it’s best to avoid them.
6. Address Things That Hinder Mindfulness
Just as companies should reward employees for being mindful, they should reprimand behavior that isn’t mindful. This typically involves addressing workplace toxicity. It’s hard to be mindful when the surrounding environment is full of disrespect and conflict. If employers hope to create mindful workplaces, they must address negative workplace cultures.
Watching for unacceptable behavior and listening to employees are important here. A shocking 83% of surveyed employees wouldn’t report harassment if they saw it and 41% aren’t confident management would do anything if they filed a complaint. Management can work against this by taking the initiative on addressing workplace toxicity and investigating all complaints thoroughly.
These steps will make employees feel more valued and discourage counterproductive behavior. Workplaces will become more mindful as a result.
7. Lead by Example
Finally, as with many matters of workplace culture, management should lead by example. If company leaders aren’t very mindful, it will be hypocritical of them to ask employees to be, and workers will notice. In contrast, if employers embody mindfulness, they’ll subtly encourage everyone around them to be as well.
Participating in workplace wellness programs and practicing mindfulness outside of work will help leaders develop this trait. They can also look to employees for inspiration. As they and their workers pursue mindfulness, the workplace will become a healthier and more productive place to be.
Make a More Mindful Workplace Today
Mindfulness can be difficult to put your finger on, but it yields significant benefits. As workplaces recognize and reward these behaviors, it’ll become easier to define and see, leading to further improvement.
These seven steps can help any employer foster a mindful work environment. Their employees will then produce better work and live healthier, happier lives.