As the dust settles on mental health awareness week, many employees will be asking, “what’s next?”.
With employers expecting more and more from their staff, while also promoting work-life balance and healthy living – it can come across as a conflicting message; “Take your time, but hurry up and do it now!” This is an interesting dilemma for employers to ensure the activities of awareness week don’t simply become a box ticking exercise. Lost momentum and a return to ‘business as usual’ will, over time erode employee engagement, sense of value and productivity levels.
What’s clear from emerging studies is that employers that implement well-being programmes see positive results across a range of wellness and performance indicators. In addition, analysis of workplace health interventions over the last 4 years have shown that those employees who consistently participated in programmes designed to support physical and mental well-being, tended to be healthier and more productive.
So, what are the options available to employers? There are a number of interventions that can add value to a workplace, but one particular intervention that is growing in popularity is mindfulness. “Mindfulness is the art of learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment-by-moment with open-minded curiosity and acceptance, training us to respond skilfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad”.
So how does an employer go about engaging its people in mindfulness?
- Engage a reputable company specialising in workplace mindfulness
- Offer voluntary taster sessions to gauge the interest of your people
- Gather feedback and explore next steps
- Run a pilot training course for a group (or groups)
- Evaluate and agree next steps e.g. develop cultural integration approach, run additional courses or drop-in / refresher sessions.
Mindfulness promotes self-care, something many people find difficult to prioritise in our ‘always on’ society that over stimulates our threat and drive systems to the detriment of health, well-being and performance levels.
Employers that understand the value in providing their people with the insight and skills to self manage their well-being and performance will reap the benefits.
So rather than a message of “Take your time, but hurry up and do it now!”, it becomes “we value your contribution and want to invest in your future potential”.
Why not sample a mindfulness practice at your desk to rest and reinvigorate mind and body by following the steps below.
PRACTICE: Be Mindful At Your Desk – Desk Meditation
- Take a brief pause from your work activity
- Sit comfortably, in an upright posture
- Direct your awareness into the body and notice how the body feels
- Become aware of sensations or feelings in the body – ask silently “how am I?”, “what do I need right now?”
- Take a deep slow breath feeling the cool air entering your nostrils and slowly release the breath through gently pursed lips.
- Keep the in-breath and out-breath roughly the same length, perhaps to a count of 3 or 4 and feel any tension leave the body on the out-breath.
- Repeat…feeling your body becoming softer, heavier and more relaxed in your chair. Notice a greater sense of stillness…move on with your day mindfully.
Guest BLOG by: Gary Young is a trained Mindfulness Coach / Facilitator and the Founder of The Mindful Enterprise CIC, a social enterprise specialising in tailored mindfulness training for individuals and organisations. Maximillion can build one of Gary’s session’s into your event itinerary.
Reference source: Financial Times 17th January 2019 – Longitudinal analysis of workplace health interventions by Rand Europe for Vitality from 2014 to 2018.