Health and Safety
Pin It

Mindfulness at work can make a huge difference to your bottom line. Here’s why. 

By Dr. Geoff Soloway


Thanks to the tireless efforts of numerous mental health leaders, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Bell Let’s Talk and even Princes William and Harry, the stigma around mental health has been reducing. And not a minute too soon:

  • One in four adults suffer from some sort of mental illness (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Millennials are the most stressed-out generation in history (Psychology Today)
  • One million Canadians miss work every day due to stress-related illness, costing the economy $50 billion a year in absenteeism and presenteeism (The Conference Board of Canada)

These numbers are staggering and expected to rise as more of us are working longer, harder and faster with less time to recharge our batteries, thanks to constant connectivity.

So what happens when you cross reduced stigma with an increasingly stressed-out workforce? Demand for help goes up.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, this increasing demand cannot be met by in-person resources alone; organizations will need to turn to online tools to support employees and keep them healthy, engaged and safe in their jobs.

Mindfulness training, both in-person and online, is a mental health tool that organizations around the world are turning to for this very reason. In fact, in the United States, 22 per cent of companies already offer mindfulness training at work and an additional 21 per cent will be adding it over the next year.

Why mindfulness? Research shows employees trained in this mental exercise better manage their stress, have greater mental and physical resilience and perform optimally at their jobs. On a practical level, this means mindful employees stay focused and present in meetings, actively listen to colleagues and clients, are better able to navigate (and rebound from) conflict and have an overall increased level of engagement in their day-to-day activities.

Along with the growing popularity of mindfulness – this ancient wisdom tradition is now practiced by business, healthcare, the military, academia, professional sports and governments around the world – has come a plethora of training options.

So how can you choose what’s right for your organization? Start by taking a look at your employees and see where they are on the continuum. Chances are that you have a small to medium sized group of employees who take care of their physical and mental health and the rest – not so much. Organizations that employ a lot of men know they practice less self-care than women and if or when they do eventually go to the doctor, they are sicker than their female counterparts.

If the above resembles your workforce, here are some recommendations for getting started:

Look for introductory, online training that’s accessible, self-directed, confidential and measurable.

Steer clear of using the word “meditation” as it can be a barrier for many. In fact, a 2015 research study funded by the Movember Foundation determined the best way to engage men in mindfulness training is to call it something else (i.e., safety training, performance training, leadership training, etc.), deliver it at work, make the training available online and connect it to work, sports and leadership.

Choose mindfulness training that is evidence-based so you’ll have greater buy-in at the top; the results will be there and the naysayers around the water cooler will be more open to giving it a try.

If bringing mindfulness training to the organization is greeted with reluctance, start with a pilot session. The results and testimonials will speak for themselves.

Once the training is underway, share the positive outcomes with employees to increase awareness, utilization and completion. And for those who want to take their new mindfulness practice further, give them more! Whether it’s additional online training, a one-day retreat or weekly classes, this group will become the organization’s mindfulness champions, ultimately helping to create a more mindful culture.

The extensive research on the many benefits of mindfulness means it’s here to stay. It’s now seen as a core literacy that will be taught in school just like math and English and is expected to become a core competency required by employers. If your organization is looking for ways to support employee mental health, increase resilience and improve performance, all while retaining and attracting top talent, consider adding mindfulness training to your wellness program. n

Dr. Geoff Soloway is co-founder and chief training officer at MindWell-U.





Pin It