Does Mindfulness at work really work?

The modern workplace is home to very demanding workloads and rife with distractions. Employees are often under extreme strain as their sense of well-being is stressed by a barrage of negative effects. Could Mindfulness at work help buffer employees from some of this constant stress and strain?

Very few controlled studies have been conducted about Mindfulness at work. Of these, even fewer have surveyed participants as they practised their new abilities in a demanding workplace. The fine-grained data set required to validate the findings of these studies simply did not exist.

To fill this gap, Raye et al examined the effectiveness of Mindfulness training in the workplace through randomized, active treatment-controlled trials of Mindfulness training in the workplace. The results have been published in their recent article in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. The training involved 60 employees of a Midwestern digital marketing firm. The study defined ‘Mindfulness at the workplace’ as specific skills working together: Concentration, Equanimity and Sensory Clarity. The participants were given a half-day session based on Unified Mindfulness lead by a trainer with over 18 years of experience. This study was the first to study the impact of Mindfulness on the participants’ attentional focus during the workday.

After the session, participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups – one that practised Mindfulness session learnt at the session for six weeks and the other that didn’t.   Researchers sent surveys measuring employee well-being to participating employees’ smartphones throughout the workday for three consecutive days before and after the 6-week period. Notably, this was the first study to research the effects of Mindfulness training on attentional focus during the workday.

The participants practicing Mindfulness experienced greater job satisfaction, lesser work-life discord, increased job satisfaction and an improved ability to focus compared to the other group. The findings suggest that a half-day training combined with six weeks of practise results in increased job satisfaction, greater positivity at work and increased focus at work. Even a half-day training alone has significant beneficial effects for the participants’ perceptions of their productivity.

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