30% of our lives are spent working.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Then consider the impact of your working life on the quality of your life as a whole. You owe it to yourself to make that 30% as positive as possible.
Work is a happier place to be if we feel that our work is purposeful, that others value our contribution and there is good camaraderie between co-workers.
Workplace culture can make or break our experience of working life and our chances of stress-related illness, so it is something that requires attention. Our own mind-set can also be adjusted to reduce the impact of stressful situations and increase our appreciation of good experiences.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is a practice of awareness of what is going on inside and around us, so that we can observe our own feelings and choose how to respond. This works for both good and bad situations:
- Getting caught up in the daily grind can mean forgetting to notice the little things which make life worth living. Mindfulness brings our attention back to the things that matter.
- When experiencing an unpleasant feeling or situation, mindfulness enables us to avoid knee-jerk reactions and negative self-talk. It helps us to take a step back, consider what is going on within ourselves and for anyone else involved, and then decide what is the best move.
How is this useful at work?
- Working relationships – considering the needs and of others, as well as having our own needs recognised can transform how we feel within a team.
- Leadership – driven by not just by targets but by what brings out the best in people i.e. clear roles and boundaries, being appreciated and treated with respect.
- Stress – When people take their workplace stress home, it affects their personal relationships, and then they come into work worrying about their home life. It is a downward spiral that is easily preventable, as mindfulness techniques can be applied at home and work to keep stress under control.
- Sick leave – accounts for 40% of all work-related illness. In 2014-15, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill (1) . Work is a contributing factor to mental health problems according to 62% of employees (2) . Therefore a simple daily practice to reduce stress makes a lot of sense.
- Loyalty – happy employees stay put and deliver more. It is worth taking care of how they feel.
- Hiring and firing – prevent wasted talent by making employees feel comfortable and motivated.
- Performance – a small amount of stress enhances performance but chronic unmanageable stress reduces vitality and effectiveness in all areas of life. Mindfulness studies have shown that when people are equipped with the environment and tools to maintain a positive mind-set, performance improves.
- Productivity – people who practise mindfulness are more creative, have better memory and concentration, and are more able to multitask.
- Profit – as a direct result of productivity, performance, low staff turnover, low sick leave, nurturing talent, positive leadership and coherent team dynamics, profit has been shown to increase in companies where mindfulness is part of the culture.
Thriving companies which have adopted mindfulness include Google, Toyota, Facebook, Intel and Goldman Sachs.
If your workplace is your home, as a freelancer, small business owner, parent or carer, these principles still apply. You may not have staff to consider but your state of mind, day to day relationships and productivity all need to be managed.
A daily practice of mindfulness is a simple and practical way to manage stress in your work and personal life.
(1) Statistics provided by the Health and Safety Executive
(2)Business in the Community national Mental Health survey 2016Back to blog