Updated: Jun 30
At Workplace Peace Institute, our approach to corporate culture development is designed to infuse peace and dignity in the workplace, so organizations become catalysts for the actualization of human potential.
Remember the scene in the television series West Wing when Josh Lyman, performed by Bradley Whitford, rises for another day of high-octane multitasking as White House Deputy Chief of Staff? He walks into the kitchen and throws out yesterday’s coffee filter only to discovery he has no coffee to make a fresh pot. Surely, he comprehends his current state of exhaustion and anticipates another grueling day ahead. He reaches in the trash to rescue yesterday’s coffee and proceeds to make a pot of coffee. Surely, that is quite a state to find yourself in while processing the day ahead in your mind fully aware you will need a bit of caffeine even if it is yesterday’s.
As leaders, we seldom have time to pause and reflect on what is happening on projects, processes, and in the lives of the people we lead each day. We react and decide to move product and/or service delivery forward. Reacting may always be a component of leadership, but we must also recognize that it is not the only competency necessary to be a success leader. And really, who wants to live in a state of always reacting?
According to a 2022 CNBC article, productivity has been on a decline since 2008. Interestingly, today it remains even more prevalent as we continue to evolve the workplace post COVID. In a recent SHRM article, Chief Economist at EY-Parthenon, Gregory Daco, shares, "People have been shifting jobs, moving to different sectors, in some cases quitting, in some cases taking early retirement.” But today, workers are choosing work/life balance over the stress that accompanies the demands to produce more and/or serve more customers/clients. Leaders are also making decisions to create space for a healthy work life too.
However, multitasking seems to never retire even when we finally make it to bed. Our minds are replaying what we did and did not get done and whether decisions made were indeed the best. In our minds, we reengage with everyone we’ve encountered especially for unresolved issues. We may continue to check emails or text team members, colleagues, friends, and family members until we decide to place the cell phone down on the nightstand.
When morning arrives, research shows that 71 percent of us reach for our phones to check text and emails within the first 10 minutes of waking, and we continue to do this every 12 minutes for the rest of the day. This chronic connection to technology leads to constant interruption, and this can be catastrophic to our ability to concentrate and be productive in the workplace. An article from The Guardian notes, “The impact of interruptions on individual productivity can also be catastrophic. In 2002, it was reported that, on average, we experience an interruption every eight minutes or about seven or eight per hour. In an eight-hour day, that is about 60 interruptions. The average interruption takes about five minutes, so that is about five hours out of eight. And if it takes around 15 minutes to resume the interrupted activity at a good level of concentration, this means that we are never concentrating very well.” And, in 2002, we weren’t reaching for our smartphones every 12 minutes. Which leads us to why mindfulness in the workplace matters.
Why Mindfulness in the Workplace Matters
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, to be fully aware of where we are, to have full awareness of what we are doing, and to have well-regulated emotional reactions to our surroundings. Practicing mindfulness allows us time to collect our mind and body and to be aware and present, which is particularly essential for full engagement in the workplace.
Listen to the Podcast: Why the Best Leaders Are Mindful Leaders with Outi Hilgert, MD
Mindfulness enhances decision making abilities, allowing us to focus and gain fresh insights. Another significant benefit of mindfulness in the workplace is that it supports us in discerning the best way forward when meeting the new challenges employers are facing with regard to employee retention and productivity.
“During times of stress, it can be difficult to stay centered and be the leader that you mean to be. The science of mindfulness informs us that mindful leaders cultivate psychologically safe environments and create high performing, cohesive teams,” according to Robyn Short, CEO of Workplace Peace Institute.
Read: Cultivate Mindfulness in the Workplace to learn additional benefits in mindfulness in the workplace.
As new paradigm leaders, we must be aware of our role in sustaining the status quo and ways we may prevent our employees from bringing their best selves to their responsibilities in the organization. To be catalysts for change, new leadership skills and leadership competencies are necessary. Traditional approaches to leadership have not, historically, created workplace cultures that prioritize the good of the group. We need new paradigm leaders who embody mindfulness, who lead with trust and integrity, and who are highly proficient in creating inclusive workplaces where all people experience deep connection to one another.
Become a Mindful Leader in the Workplace
Mindfulness is a critical leadership skill. To create a workplace that embodies mindfulness, leaders must model this practice. Meditation is one of the most effective practices for cultivating mindfulness, and it takes time and discipline. Although research shows that just 10 minutes of meditation per day is enough to reap the benefits of meditation, 30 minutes per day will bring even greater results.
Mindfulness practices can help leaders in …
Developing a calm and focused mind
Cultivating intentionality while working in service to the team and organization
Listening and speaking with intention and clarity
De-escalating conflict in the workplace
Making hard decisions in a human way
Generating fresh ideas and approaches for managing people and processes
Creating a community where employees thrive and deliver extraordinary results
Cultivating mindfulness doesn’t happen overnight. We must schedule time to be fully present in contemplation. Mindfulness matters. Become a mindful leader today. Enroll in the online, self-paced The Mindful Leader course and learn firsthand just precisely why mindfulness in the workplace is so important.
Workplace Peace Institute is an organization systems design and research firm that is singularly focused on creating workplace cultures where people thrive. Workplace Peace Institute supports small to mid-sized businesses in optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability by infusing human security and dignity as foundational attributes of their business model. Our Leadership Academy supports leaders in honoring basic human needs and dignity needs in the workplace, so they can actualize human potential in the workplace. The online Leadership Academy optimizes competencies in human behavior, communication skills, conflict resolution, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging to create highly engaged workplaces where basic human needs and dignity are consistently honored. All our courses are offered online and can be customized for in-person workshops and seminars.