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The Mindfulness Hype?

Mindfulness-21 400x265Have you noticed a steady increase in the amount of news, research and articles on mindfulness? 

From reviews of changes occurring in our genes after a short period of mindfulness to the benefits of this practice in relieving stress and pain, to what this all might mean to health and well-being at work – there is a lot out there.

So why might this be, and what might that mean to us in the world of HR, L&D and Recruitment?

If we start with a definition of mindfulness as zoning in to our environment, calming the busyness of our brains and noticing our breathing, our posture, our surroundings, our thinking and so on – this gives us some clues.

In an age where the standard response to the question “how are you?” is simply. “busy,” we are clearly in need of something to help us slow down.  All of this busyness leads to mass auto-pilot behaviour, less creativity and innovation and usually poorer performance.  And so slowing down, focusing more on are we doing the right things than simply doing lots of things, can make a big difference.

Coaching and Nancy Kline’s Time to Think highlighted the need to slow down and listen, and has lead to some great progress.  Now mindfulness shows us a self-directed addition to the toolbox for personal effectiveness and well-being.  Of course mindfulness is not a new concept, but it is receiving new understanding and popularity.

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So what does this mean for us in the world of HR, L&D and Recruitment?  I suggest there are three key points for us to be thinking about…

Firstly this can help us in the mission for behavioural change.  We know that training courses alone achieve very little of the behavioural change we want.  Mindfulness encourages greater self-awareness and a chance to slow down and consider different behaviour.  Combine this with action learning sets and manager support and we have a far greater opportunity for positive change.  When so much is being spent on training, this gives us a chance to see greater return on expectation and ROI.

For well-being, mindfulness is a great starting point for stress relief and health – which can lead onto other benefits like a more mindful diet, mindful exercise and overall better awareness of the habits that drive our health.  This is a great contributor to the bottom line in reduced sick days, higher performance and through the sense that our employer cares about us, higher employee engagement.

With higher employee engagement and evidence for the organisation’s care for its people, your employer brand will be stronger.  Therefore your opportunity to attract and retain talent increases.  As talk of the upturn in confidence and the economy is balanced with fears about a further downturn, what is consistent is the constant need to keep hold of, develop and attract new talent.  Mindfulness could be a starting point for all of these things – and if we practice it ourselves, we may just find more opportunities and benefits.

Caring about people’s well-being and showing them how they can be healthier and happier sounds like a pretty sensible thing to do simply for the goodness of it.  Add to that the clear business benefits and now we can see why there is increasing noise about this mindfulness stuff.

Is it hype?  Or is it simply a bit of good news getting the air time it deserves?