What do internationally renowned companies like Nike, Heineken, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Google, Coca Cola, Starbucks or Deustche Bank have in common? Among other things, they have incorporated Mindfulness-based programs into their way of working with the aim of optimizing their productivity and having a positive impact on the well-being of their workers.
In addition, the most admired universities in the world, such as Harvard, Oxford Yale or Cambridge also offer an interesting repertoire of Mindfulness programs to improve the well-being and performance of their students and thus prepare them for their jump into the world of work.
Why is Mindfulness gaining so many followers in the corporate world?
A chaotic and distracting environment
As time goes by, it is becoming increasingly clear that companies and organizations in general move in a very volatile environment where uncertainty prevails, not knowing what will happen tomorrow. This constant ambiguity has a significant psychological impact on workers (regardless of their managerial position in the company), since they must always be aware of the latest changes, both in terms of strategic planning and in terms of their production processes, both in employees and in managers and leaders.
Thus, the need to become multi-taskers prevails : stop writing a document to attend a phone call, inform the supervisor of an incidence, continue writing while paying attention to the indications of a colleague, etc. This means that if you do not know how to manage your workflow, it will accumulate on your desk (in the form of columns of documents) and this will encourage the appearance of stress problems and all that this entails (difficulty in concentrating, lack of coordination, tiredness, etc.).
As a result, this unhealthy working dynamic leads to not finishing tasks and to executing them in a poor way, with errors.
In this context, much scientific research has shown that the use of Mindfulness programs in organizations significantly helps to better cope with pressure in the workplace, maintain an attention to detail, preserve the ability to be creative and adapt to challenges in real time and quickly, and strengthen cohesion between work teams.
Furthermore, in this way the formation of conscious leaders is promoted , capable of attracting attention to the parts of the work that really matter, and prone to confront problems while maintaining serenity and not letting themselves be carried away by arbitrary decisions.
Mindfulness, which can be translated into Spanish as atención plena , is a process by which we adapt to circumstances in order to focus our attention on the present moment, without making moral judgments that lead us to prejudge, and relating to reality while adopting the position of observers, without letting ourselves be carried away by impulses.
Full attention can be enhanced through training programs until it becomes a personal development tool that allows facing life’s problems, mitigating the effects of anxiety and stress and favoring the increase of productivity .
In other words, the habit of using Mindfulness leads us to reduce the frequency of the appearance of certain automatic mental processes based on the emotional imprint left by past experiences that, if not managed, can block us in the present.
Therefore, full attention has become **one of the most used resources in Western countries (despite being based on traditional meditation in certain regions of Asia) and with more interesting and practical results both at work and in personal life.
However, in Spain, the practice of Mindfulness is still a relatively small minority and has only been implemented in certain companies that value the health of their workers very much, or in those that want to adapt to the new times by making the working environment a much more comfortable place.
Mindfulness in the company: its advantages
According to a survey conducted by Adecco Training, whose results reflect data from 2016, only 5% of Spanish workers are in the habit of practicing Mindfulness, despite its advantages and the positive impact it has on job performance.
Among the most significant advantages reported is the increase in productivity, which is estimated at 20%. In addition, it is estimated that on average, each worker in a company loses about an hour and a half due to distractions, which translates into about eight hours lost per week. Approximately 20% of the working day is wasted .
So, whoever practices Mindfulness has much more chance of optimally using all the time dedicated to work, and not losing that 20%. For this reason, despite the fact that it is not a very widespread practice in this country at the moment, 8 out of 10 companies that know what Mindfulness is acknowledge that they need to implement training programs in full attention.
On the other hand, 80% of the organizations consulted plan to train their workers in Mindfulness during the next few years . This is natural, since among the workers who already practice it, 65% claim to have a greater sense of calm at work. This has also led to a 78% reduction in days off work due to anxiety or depression in the companies that are promoting Mindfulness initiatives.
One of the answers to the lack of job satisfaction
A report by the consulting firm Accenture shows that the job satisfaction index in Spain has fallen from 52% in 2013 to 44% in 2014; dissatisfaction is now the majority psychological state among workers. Of course, this factor poses a major challenge for companies’ management teams , which need to configure their working methods in a way that makes workers feel comfortable in order to retain talent.
On the other hand, phenomena such as work absenteeism promote organizational climates in which demotivation, stress and hopelessness are the norm, since there is a feeling of stagnation and inability to break away from a way of working that wears down mental health. This obviously does not fit in well with the shift that has taken place in recent decades in the company’s philosophy, according to which the professional sphere can be considered another component of working life, with values in line with those we follow in the private sphere.
It has also been seen that those who habitually subject themselves to contexts that generate stress find it very difficult to be creative or to be positively predisposed towards teamwork, given that in these situations the human brain is full of cortisol (the stress hormone) whose effects play against the confidence hormone, oxytocin.
In addition, the 2016 report of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has produced some worrying data: the economic cost of stress in companies is 136 billion euros per year, mainly due to the number of sick leaves it causes. This amount represents between 2.6 and 3.8% of the Community’s GDP, which means that from this perspective, harmful psychological disorders are the second most common occupational health problem on the European continent.
Investing in emotional health pays off
Investing in psychological health from the context of work is in itself a goal to which all large companies aspire, both to generate adequate spaces for professional performance and to be more competitive and retain talent. Studies carried out in several countries on different continents show that occupational health programmes lead to a reduction in direct costs associated with health care, as well as in the number of accidents at work and job rotation.
All data invites companies to consider the importance of welfare policies in the organizational environment, and the use of Mindfulness is an excellent way to enhance the psychological well-being of those who are part of the team.
This need has been taken very seriously by psychological assistance organizations such as the Barcelona-based psychology center PsicoTools, which has been offering the Mindfulness training service to companies for some time now. Initiatives like this make mental health experts change work dynamics leaving long lasting effects in organizations. At the end of the day, the pioneers of the use of Mindfulness at work in Spain have it easy: they only have to rely on the point of view of those who have been working on it for years in their psychology office.