The Health Section

Want to make your company stronger? Encourage mindfulness at work

When people spend a lot of time together at work, they rub off on each other. Distractions, misunderstandings, stress and deadlines can converge to create unhappy and unproductive employees. One solution that’s proving to be cost-effective and cost-saving is encouraging mindfulness at work.

Companies with a mindful workplace culture encourage their employees to be present on their own and with each other.

Mindfulness is paying attention or noting whatever is happening in the moment with a calm and open mind. It’s more than paying attention though – being mindful is being present. Companies with a mindful workplace culture encourage their employees to be present on their own and with each other.

When people practice mindfulness at work they are better able to respond in the moment rather than react. Instead of multitasking, they commit to doing one task at a time, making them more effective. They can improve the quality of their interactions, communication and relationships, which builds trust. Mindfulness fosters a resilient workforce where employees get the job done without getting burned out in the process. This helps attract and retain talented people.

Here are some guidelines for building a mindful workplace culture for your business through formal programs and promoting the importance of being present:

Set a clear vision for organization health. Your priorities should encourage health and wellness in your workplace. Your goal is to create a work environment where people are happy, engaged, resilient and effective.

Support the idea at all levels of the organization. At Aetna, having a chairman who practices mindfulness and yoga certainly helps employees embrace both formal programs and the ideas behind them. It’s also important to have managers and supervisors empower individuals throughout the company to participate in formal programs and practice mindfulness skills at work. Leaders can try inserting “mindful moments” into organizational, staff or one-to-one meetings to set an example.

Encourage employees to share personal experiences. More than 13,000 Aetna employees have participated in a mindfulness-based wellness program since 2011. Employees who use these programs consistently mention word-of-mouth recommendations from co-workers as a major reason for their participation.

Measure, measure, measure. Personal testimonials from co-workers will help engage employees, but it is also important to quantify results from any formal programs. Employers should establish clear goals initially and then measure before, during and after to see how a formal program is progressing.

Celebrate success. It is important to highlight employee success stories broadly to show the impact of company-sponsored programs at a personal level. Any company-wide results, such as improved productivity, can also demonstrate the benefit of the program to the entire organization.

To learn more about mindfulness, visit aetnamindfulness.com.