Research papers

How Mindfulness Skills Help in the Workplace

Studies at Harvard and elsewhere show that people completing mindfulness courses also develop skills that are especially valuable in a working environment. Just eight weeks of training brings a significant increase in brain grey matter concentration in regions of the brain associated with sustained attention, emotional regulation and perspective taking. These are vital capacities in the workplace:

Sustained Attention
Mindfulness training reduces the functional impairments associated with high-stress challenges that demand high levels of cognitive control, self-awareness, situational awareness and emotional regulation. People completing courses are better able to remain calm and focused in the face of multiple demands. They can communicate more clearly, direct thoughts more appropriately and focus more consistently.

Emotional Regulation & Perspective Taking
The enhanced capacity for regulating emotions and taking a balanced perspective makes for more effective teams. Working relationships are improved and so are relationships with clients and other stakeholders. A study carried out in the US Marine Corps found that those marines who trained in mindfulness experienced improved mood and working memory. Under pressure, they were more capable of complex thought and problem solving, and they had better control of their emotions.

Reduced Stress Levels and Lower Absenteeism
Mindfulness training has been shown to help with stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours and has a positive effect on physical problems like hypertension, heart disease and chronic pain. This accounts for some of its impact on absenteeism. Among the participants who took part in a mindfulness programme carried out at Transport for London, days off sick due to stress, anxiety and depression fell by 70% and absences for all health conditions fell by 50%.

Rational Decision Making
People who have trained in mindfulness have been shown to make more rational decisions. At times of economic decision-making, meditators activate a different network of brain areas to non-meditators and that enables them to uncouple negative emotional reactions from their behaviour.

Training in Corporate Social Responsibility
Creating a successful and sustainable business is about more than financial results. Meditation has been found to be a highly effective means of training managers in corporate social responsibility. Mindfulness training significantly raises managers’ levels of care and concern, and that changes their behaviour. They listen more attentively; show greater emotional alertness and empathise more readily.