By Irene Gerardi
The two reasons why you shouldn’t implement a mindfulness program
We all know the overused, mainstream word ‘MINDFULNESS’, but do you really know what it is all about? And does your organisation need a mindfulness program? Here’s 3 reasons why it’s important, and 2 reasons why not bother with it.
Why you need a mindfulness program
- Meditation has been proven to lower levels of stress in and out of work:
When we are under pressure, or generally stressed, our cortisol levels increase and our sympathetic nervous system is subsequently activated. This results in being in what’s commonly called ‘fight-flight mode’; if we don’t stop the cause of our worries, the cortisol levels will only increase, making us feel even more stressed and anxious.
In the past, when humans lived in nature, this area of our nervous system was essential to survival, allowing us to literally fight or fly a physical threat. Nowadays, while a part of it is helpful in keeping us awake and alert, another part is also keeping us away from a quiet state. Meditation can restore this state activating the parasympathetic nervous system activity and making us feel calmer, happier and generally better. Lower levels of cortisol have been associated with higher levels of concentration, clarity and focus.
- More support for the employees and less stress for HR.
Not all of us feel comfortable in sharing our personal life in the workplace. In a world where corporate relationships don’t go beyond the ‘How are you doing today?’ It is highly unlikely that your employees, no matter what position they cover in the organisation, will share an anxiety or depression issue.
As a manager, your responsibility is also your team’s wellbeing, but how are you supposed to have good people skills if you don’t know how they will react under pressure?
Mindfulness is a quiet and helpful tool to manage everyone’s anxiety, in a corporate environment, the people who will attend a mindfulness program might be the ones who need it the most, and they will likely be able to manage their own stress. They may be happier at work, they may not quit after a stressful period and your HR department would probably end up having less cases to handle.
This is no excuse to change your management style, but you might retain that stellar employee that does not like to be micromanaged, or a higher achiever you don’t particularly get along with.
Being a good manger is also, and mostly, treating your team as they want to be treated, and giving them the best tools to do their job.
- Team Bonding
Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment and acknowledging not only your current state of mind, but also the one of others. Being aware of what’s happening on the inside, means also becoming aware of what’s happening on the outside. And wouldn’t it be great to work in a place where everyone is a bit more aware of their colleagues’ state of mind? Things might not be perfect, but you might end up really understanding why your boss or your employee is being difficult with you, you might start accepting other people’s annoying behaviour and generally, you would work in an organisation where everyone is simply a kinder person. Meditating together, in the same space at the same time, is a powerful process, it brings people together and creates a sense of community.
Why you don’t need a mindfulness program:
- Squeezing your employees’ productivity
Yes, mindfulness will help your team in achieving clarity and calm, making them probably more productive at their desks, they will respond in a non-reactive way to stress and they will be happier at work. But no, they won’t become productive robots churning out pieces of work like crazy.
If mindfulness is for you the perfect tool to squeeze the last bits of energy from your team, then you are on the wrong path. Remember that meditation can fix a bad day, but it can’t fix a toxic management culture.
- Trading benefits for more work
The trend of building workspaces for the sole purpose of not letting employees leave is growing. We now have companies who provide gyms, shops, and everything you usually do out of business hours, inside the company building. Your company may not have the fancy Cupertino facilities, but trading benefits in exchange of longer working hours is definitely a thing. So, if you are thinking that 30 minutes of mindfulness in the morning will results in 2 more hours of work in the evening, drop that thought. Exactly as the point above, meditation is not an excuse to set a higher level of stress threshold. If this is your goal, you might want to sign up to a mindfulness course yourself.
In it’s very meaning, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. And whilst many of us work for healthy, understanding and generally awesome organizations, we all need to live in a kinder, more mindful world. Meditation is a fantastic tool to achieve clarity, calm, happiness and state of flow. Perhaps, it is worth giving it a try.