An ancient Buddhist practice could improve your office’s operations, new research suggests.
Creating a corporate culture grounded in mindfulness not only improves employees’ focus but also helps them better cope with stress and co-workers, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Management.
The researchers defined mindfulness as present-centered attention and awareness. They said it emerged from Buddhist philosophy and has been cultivated for generations through meditation practices.
In recent years, more and more organizations, such as Google and Aetna, have been training their employees on mindfulness.
“When you are mindful, you can have a greater consciousness in the present,” Christopher Lyddy, one of the study’s lead authors and a doctoral candidate at Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management, said in a statement. “That’s vital for any executive or manager who, at any given moment, may be barraged with various problems that call for decisions under stress.”
For the study, the researchers analyzed 4,000 scientific papers on various aspects of mindfulness. They used the data to create a guide on mindfulness’s impact on how people think, feel, act, relate and perform at work. [See Related Story: Quiz: Are You Too Stressed Out at Work? ]
They found that mindfulness appears to have a positive impact on human functioning overall. Specifically, they said it improves attention, cognition, emotions, behavior and physiology.
In addition, the researchers discovered that mindfulness improves three qualities of attention: stability, control and efficiency. The study found that those who finished mindfulness training remained attentive longer on both visual and listening tasks.
Mindfulness can also have a positive impact on how professionals interact with each other, the researchers said. They found that mindfulness improves relationships by increasing empathy and compassion, and suggested that mindfulness training could result in better workplace processes that rely on effective leadership and teamwork.
“Historically, companies have been reticent to offer mindfulness training because it was seen as something fluffy, esoteric and spiritual,” Lyddy said. “But that’s changing.”
Darren Good, who earned his doctorate at the Weatherhead School and is now an assistant professor at Pepperdine University, was the study’s other co-lead author. The research team included experts in management and mindfulness, as well as psychologists and neuroscientists.