In this blog we asked Director of Lines of Sight Consultancy and Workplace Policy Lead for the Mindfulness Initiative, Andrew McNeill, to explain why he thinks mindfulness can offer practical help with leadership and team challenges as well as wellbeing.

What is mindfulness?

One description of mindfulness is the ability to bring your attention to something in a certain way.

I discovered mindfulness when I was under stress. A friend suggested a mindfulness retreat might help. I was extremely sceptical, but sufficiently stuck to park my cynicism. What I discovered was a tool kit that helped me to manage stressful situations competently. These tools helped me to become a better leader, improve my decision making and enable my teams to collaborate more effectively. Having experienced this transformation, I have tried to apply mindfulness wherever possible.

Mindfulness and the workplace

Most organisations have structures and processes that aspire to engender individual or shared attention: board meetings, reports and team meetings, but these may not always work. A tool kit, on the other hand, to help people apply their attention both personally and collectively is capable of improving an organisation’s effectiveness significantly.

If we look at the challenge of bringing mindfulness into the workplace as one of enhancing existing practices then we are simply reaching for low tech, pragmatic enhancements to the existing workplace systems, rather than getting the whole team to wear kaftans…

Many of us will be familiar with the impact of stress in the workplace, and mindfulness can help reduce this. The World Health Organisation has described stress as the health epidemic of the 21st century; in 2017 the UK’s Health and Safety Executive stated that half a million people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill and that nearly 57% of all UK sick days were caused by stress.

Benefits of mindfulness

There are over 4,000 studies into the various benefits of mindfulness. As well as helping those struggling, mindfulness can help people stay well and simply maximise their potential. It can benefit individuals, of course, but it could also benefit your organisation.

It is also timely. Many schools now have mindfulness programmes. What will future top employers need to offer to get the best applicants? I would suggest employers will need to take well-being seriously and mindfulness can be a significant part of that offer.

But it is not just Millennials who see mindfulness as being mainstream. Consider that Google has had a mindfulness programme for years, as have Jaguar, Land Rover, the Leeds Building society, Welcome Smith Kline and SAP. Mindfulness is no longer novel.

If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and the impact it can have on your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.