5 Surprising Reasons Why You Need Mindfulness at Work

Research provides compelling reasons for workplace mindfulness.

Posted Nov 02, 2020

People seem to either love their work-life, merely tolerate it, or they flat out hate it. When we love our work, we feel "in the flow," and the more we have this optimal experience, the better we feel about ourselves and our life. That translates into expressing more happiness. But even in this wonderful state of fulfillment, we must manage some degree of stress.

If, however, your job and the challenges it brings feel more like a nightmare than a joy, then stress can be a compounding problem that brings mental anguish, health problems, and interpersonal relationship issues.

Let's look at what I call "5 Reasons Why You Need Mindfulness at Work." These can transform negativity, even help you if you're feeling blasé or disengaged from your work. 

Reason 1: Mindfulness Enhances Communication and Relationships

According to a Gallup Management Journal study, "Employees who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, while those who have at least three "vital friends" at work are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives." Better friends means better communication at work. It's a win-win. 

Reason 2: Mindfulness Helps Create Order

Mindfulness practice can provide us with both the overview and neutral perspective necessary to view the messiness of work with acceptance and humor. This gives us the opportunity to make our work part of the very core of our spiritual lives. Ironically, when we release the need to micromanage and constantly control, an amazing thing often happens—order tends to emerge from seeming chaos.

Reason 3: Mindfulness Overcomes Fixed Mindsets and Improves Creativity

Fixed mindsets can cause conflict, fatigue, and burnout. If you're stuck in a fixed mindset, you are unable to be adaptable and creative. One example of an unwillingness to see things differently is typified by the worn phrase, “we've always done things this way.” 

Applying a mindful quality of openness and flexibility to problem-solving—"meditating on it” and “letting it go” instead of forcing an answer—shifts the context within which you view the challenge.

Reason 4: Mindfulness Widens External Attention

How managers and employees focus their attention in corporate structures has become a growing field of research in business graduate schools, and the effects of mindfulness on how individuals perform their work tasks is seen as a key function. The term used for mindfulness applied to dynamic task environments (where decisions occur rapidly and are interconnected) is a "wide external breadth of attention." Within companies, this wide external attention form of mindfulness helps managers to improvise in the face of unexpected challenges, and to make interdependent decisions in real-time.

Reason 5: Mindfulness Reduces Negativity and Stress

An article on mindfulness in work environments, published in the Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, concluded that mindfulness, if used by employees and managers, “can interrupt their self-defeating and irrational thoughts and {they can} become more focused on their job responsibilities. They will become better able to cope and manage the bombardment of information, accept change in a more realistic and healthy manner, and realize greater fulfillment in both their professional and personal lives.”

Cultivating and Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Workplace

To get all the benefits of mindfulness mentioned above requires more than simply a breathing practice, although that's a start. Learning how to use mindfulness as a management change tool is important. It can change mindsets, improve relationships, and bring a fresher attentional awareness to ordinary problems. The book Simply Mindful devotes a chapter to the five reasons mentioned here in detail, in addition to providing various tools and exercises designed to hone in on the benefits of each.

Bringing happiness to your career and job is vital because it keeps you inspired as it inspires others to do their best.