Mental engagement, the ability to focus on a task, accomplishing it efficiently and effectively, is an important key to career success. Creating a work environment that encourages mental engagement is an important key to a company’s ability to retain talent and build the bottom line. Research on mental engagement or mindfulness consistently reveals that not only can mindfulness be learned, but it also has a profound effect both our professional and personal lives. In their paper, Mindfulness at Work: A New Approach to Improving Individual and Organizational Performance, Patrick K. Hyland, R. Andrew Lee, and Maura J. Mills share documentation for the following:
Employee engagement is linked to
• Greater employee satisfaction
• Lower turnover intention
• Increased organizational citizenship behaviors
Mindfulness is linked to
• Increased employee engagement
• Increased performance
• Increases in mood, positive affect, and satisfaction
• Decreased emotional exhaustion
• Decreased turnover intent
• Decreased symptoms of burnout
So what can both the employee and the employer do to increase mental engagement/mindfulness in the workplace?
• Place a higher value on mental health
• Follow the example of Aetna, Google, Adobe, General Mills, and Target and utilize mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or similar programs to help employees develop increased mindfulness. After attending just one program session, many employees experienced a significant reduction in stress and gained more than an hour of productivity per week – which is a big plus to both the general environment and the bottom line.
• Take specific steps to increase employee engagement. For example, show greater empathy for employees, seek their feedback, recognize their strengths, offer opportunities for growth, and take the time to show appreciation.
• Prevent too much multi-tasking on the one hand, and on the other hand, help employees to develop active mindfulness when a task requires little mental alertness.
• Train your mind to pay attention to changes in your internal and external worlds as they happen at the moment. This can be as simple as paying attention to the sound of your footsteps as you walk to your office or paying attention to the motions you go through when washing your hands. Stay in the present. Consider the temperature, texture, and everything else that you would normally ignore because you are too busy thinking about something else.
• According to Ellen Langer, an early mindfulness researcher, says that “mindfulness is the essence of engagement, helping employees focus on the present, on new perspectives, and new ways of being productive. It helps improve engagement with the task at hand.”
• Consider the perspective of Jason Fitzgerald. He’s talking about running, but the same principles apply to your work tasks.
“Not all races will have challenging terrain, but if you’re on a winding, hilly course then this is something that needs your attention. Always run the tangents, or direct lines in between turns, to ensure you’re not racing longer than the distance of the race … maintain the same effort on the uphills, which will be slightly slower, and focus on quick turnover and staying in control on the downhills.
This is an effective racing strategy, and it also keeps the brain alert and present. The mind games of racing often include using the mile markers (or half-mile, maybe even laps) as benchmarks during the race; don’t worry about making it all the way to the end, but rather, just get your body through to the next mile and worry about the next as it comes.”
Whether you’re taking simple steps to mindfulness or running a marathon; whether you’re the employee or the employer; learning to focus on the present will improve your mental engagement and productivity. It will help build a successful career/company.
Springborn Staffing puts mindfulness to work every day as we focus on matching the best talent to each open position in Bangor and Portland, Maine. Contact us today – we find jobs for talent and talent for jobs.