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Monday 22 April 2019
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Why mindfulness is more than just hype

LESLEY JOHN, ACCA Marketing and Media Relations Manager

Mindfulness is the latest buzzword in the business environment. It seems everywhere you go someone is talking about living mindfully, developing a meditation practice or introducing mindfulness and meditation into the workplace. You may be asking yourself what the hype is all about and why all the current focus on an area that seems completely unrelated to business.

It is a fact that mindfulness has been shown to have clear benefits not only on a personal level but also in the work place. According to the mindfulness initiative (a private sector workgroup), workplace mindfulness is possible not only for individuals, but within and across teams of people and is associated with benefits for individual employees as well as for the organisation as a whole.

Imagine leaping out of bed every morning, eager to head into the office, ready to take on the challenges of the day and excited to interact with your team. How many of us can truly say we feel that way about our jobs?

David Gelles, author of Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out says, “Mindfulness means being aware of our experiences, observing them without judgment, and responding from a place of clarity and compassion, rather than fear, insecurity, or greed."

While mindfulness may not give us higher salaries or even career fulfilment it can go a long way towards improving team dynamics, enhancing emotional intelligence, fostering an environment where creativity can blossom and reducing work related stress.

Let’s take a deeper look at a few of the benefits.

Emotional intelligence

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence or EQ comprises:

• the ability to understand your own emotions and how they impact others (self-awareness)

• the ability to control your emotions and impulses (self-regulation)

• internal drive to improve and achieve (motivation)

• giving consideration to the feelings of others (empathy)

• the ability to influence relationships (social skill)

EQ is one of the seven attributes in ACCA’s recently developed model showing the critical skills and qualities needed for success in a rapidly evolving and increasingly automated business environment. Introducing a mindfulness strategy can positively impact emotional intelligence leading to improved relationships, more empathy, healthier team dynamics, better conflict management and an overall happier work environment.

Increased creativity

Creativity, defined as the ability to use existing knowledge in a new or tricky situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes and generate new ideas, is another of the seven skill areas identified by ACCA as being essential to the evolving profession. With the advent of AI and new technologies, human creativity has never been more critical to the job function and mindfulness can be a useful tool to unlocking creative potential and innovative thinking.

Harvard Business Review points out that people are at their most creative when they're in a relaxed state. Relaxation allows people to look at problems differently, using divergent thinking to consider the widest range of potential solutions and hone in on the right one.

Stress reduction

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reported that over half of the 550 million working days lost annually in the US from absenteeism are stress-related, and that one in five of all last-minute no-shows are due to job stress. Additionally, stressful working conditions are also associated with increased tardiness and intentions by workers to quit their jobs, all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line. Recognising this as the serious problem it is, many major corporations such as Google, Target, Goldman Sachs and Adobe have launched formal mindfulness programmes in an effort to improve employee engagement and fight work-related stress. In fact recent studies have proven that mindfulness training for staff can increase job effectiveness while decreasing stress, anxiety and depression.

A case for mindfulness…

Mindfulness according to author David Gelles, makes us more focused, more effective, and happier, to name just a few benefits. So it's little wonder why today, in multinational corporations and small businesses alike, more and more people are meditating on the job.

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