Mark Sidney, Business Development Director, Mindful Therapies
Increased productivity, Reduce employee absence and improve staff retention
Mindfulness training is increasingly being implemented for business development. Some of the world’s leading companies from Google and Apple to the NHS and Transport for London have invested in mindfulness training for their employees. Even Harvard Business School includes mindfulness principles in its leadership programmes.
On 20th October 2015, the United Kingdom declared its intention to become a ‘mindful nation’, with the publication of Mindful Nation UK produced by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group. The report recommends that government departments should take a lead by training their own staff in Mindfulness.
But why all this growing interest? In this series of three posts we will explore some of the key benefits for businesses. We will be looking at how Mindfulness helps to directly impact on the bottom line for your business by both reducing costs and increasing revenue.
In the first of the series we will be looking at
Reduced Employee absence
Improved Staff retention
Increased productivity for your business
“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Gandhi – a very busy man who got a lot done!
Regular mindfulness practice increases activity in a specific part of the brain, the left prefrontal cortex, which has been associated with higher brain function and emotional intelligence. Increased emotional intelligence enables people to recognise and understand their own emotions and be better at reading the emotions of others. Demonstrating empathy and understanding enables managers to support, guide, motivate and provide effective feedback to staff. Staff feel valued and motivated leading to increased productivity.
Fewer sick days
Since Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Programme in the late 1970’s in the United States, Mindfulness has increasingly been recognised as an effective intervention in the treatment of anxiety and depression, in many cases demonstrating better long term results than medication. In the UK the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends Mindfulness Based Cognitive as a treatment for adults with depression.
However Mindfulness has also been shown to have a range of other health benefits including treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain improve sleep and strengthen the immune system.
Since 2009 over 600 Transport for London (TfL) employees have undertaken a mindfulness based stress reduction programme. Among those taking part employee absence caused by stress, anxiety and depression reduced by 71% over three years. Although aimed specifically at helping staff deal with stress there was also a decreased absence for all conditions by 50% over the same time.
Increased staff retention
High employee turnover is expensive for business, recruitment and training costs or use of agency staff can put a significant drain on budgets. Retaining your best staff and maintaining their loyalty and motivation saves money and time as well as maintaining quality, consistency and continuity of service. Regular Mindfulness practice increases levels of happiness and wellbeing – a happy workforce not only stays but also stays motivated.
However, high levels of staff retention are no guarantee of quality of service or employee satisfaction. I have managed and worked in organisations with very good staff retention where employees moral levels are extremely low and they stay because they don’t believe they can get anything better. They continually grumble about the organisation and quickly drag new starters down, often resulting in a high turnover of new staff whilst overall levels of retention appear high. Whilst Mindfulness may help this group appreciate the positive elements of their role it can also provide them with greater insight into what matters for them. This insight can lead to positive choices including seeking alternative employment that they actually enjoy.
Read part two, Improved decision making, Greater creativity and increased focus and concentration and Part three, Employee satisfaction, workplace harmony and company loyalty here.