It was about a year ago when a good friend of mine and I got talking about the concept of work-life balance. The idea struck me as one that is often discussed but rarely practiced. I realised that with my busy schedule full of meetings and international travel, I was always catching-up with myself. To be able to continue bringing my best self to work every day and to keep up with my current pace of work, I knew I needed to look into incorporating my work-life balance into my daily routine.
This is when I decided to begin my journey with yoga and meditation. After months of regular practice I noticed an improvement in my energy levels, an increased mobility and my mind quiet and free of clutter of busy thoughts. All of this thanks to small changes to my daily routine.
Incorporating more work-life balance doesn’t require a major change and here I would like to encourage everyone to take the small step towards it and watch how it unfolds. Don’t be intimidated by the concept itself and trust me, it is something you can embark upon very successfully.
So here, I’d like to propose an idea of incorporating more mindful-culture into the workforce as a way to support the employees trying to find more work-life balance in their lives.
What do I mean by mindfulness culture?
Workplace mindfulness is the level of which employees are mindful in their work. The high level of mindfulness can be characterised by the ability to put aside the past and the future and be fully present in the here and now. Mindfulness means being centered and grounded. Observing what happens within you before you react to external stimulus. It is the ability to experience life events through thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they happen in a non-judgmental manner.
Workplace culture on the other hand is a set of values that the company stands by and the way that employees work and behave.
Mindfulness culture is the type of corporate culture that sets mindful approach to work as one of the main company values.
How does it look in practice?
The change usually happens from the top down, which means that it is up to the leaders to incorporate more mindfulness into their lives. This will naturally encourage employees to follow the steps.
Here is a list of things that mindful leaders do and encourage others to practice:
1. Take a few moments each day to reflect over your “to-do” list. Set your priorities for each day in an intentional way by asking yourself which tasks or meetings are necessary and what can be rescheduled or delegated.
2. Avoid multitasking and focus at one task at the time.
3. Take mindfulness breaks during your working day, especially if faced with stressful situations. You can use tools such as Headspace or Calm apps to guide you through 3 min breathing exercises, mindful walks or other stress-relieving practices. It certainly worked for me!
4. Include a short meditation into your morning routine. Sitting down for a few minutes each day to simply watch your breath can make a significant difference to your leadership. In fact, a study conducted by the Information School of Washington found that regular meditation practice increases the ability to concentrate and improves memory. Additionally, it leads to reduction in the experienced levels of stress as regular practitioner gain the peace of mind.
5. Check yourself emotionally before you enter the meeting or a conference call. Take 3 deep breaths into your belly, scan your body for any signs of physical tension and notice any sensations or emotions you might be experiencing. You don’t have to change anything, just be mindful of what you’re bringing in to the meeting with yourself.
6. Always be listening. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said: “Every person you meet in this world has something to teach you”. One of the mistakes leaders can make is assuming that their experience and knowledge means that they always know the right answer. Allow yourself to listen even if you believe that you already have the answer. You never know what you might learn and from whom.
7. Bring meditation or yoga classes into your office! There are plenty of corporate wellness providers out there offering different packages tailored for the type, size of the business and goals that you want to achieve. Incorporating on-site classes will directly benefit your EVP and indirectly - your productivity and performance.
A couple of stats
I could write much more about what mindfulness, yoga and meditation can do for your business and how you can set the mindfulness culture in motion. Instead, I’d like to finish off with a couple of statistics.
Research by PepTalk showed that:
- 70% of employees wish they were more active
- 80% wish they ate healthier
- 40% wish they took better care of their mental health.
If nothing else, embracing mindfulness is a way to give your employees what they are already asking for. The fact that it could benefit your business and create a healthy and supportive work culture is just an added bonus.