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Beating stress through mindfulness and meditation

Simon Delve, CEO - Samten

Workplace wellbeing has long been a priority for many HR professionals, managers and businesses, however, it’s only in more recent times that the emphasis has extended beyond physical health and safety to the mental and emotional wellness of employees.

The most recent guidelines published by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on 2nd March 2022 revealed that mindfulness, meditation and yoga were most effective overall in reducing job stress and mental health symptoms and having a positive effect on employee mental wellbeing, with further evidence proving that these interventions were effective when delivered either in a group or online.

Whilst not mutually exclusive, meditation and mindfulness often go hand-in-hand when aiming for a balanced, relaxed and content lifestyle. Despite over a third of businesses increasing their spend on employee wellness, there is still more work to be done to raise awareness of the benefits of mindfulness within the working world.

Here are some tips for how businesses can help employees prioritise their mental health in 2022:

The dangers of workplace stress
According to a study by CIPHR, one in five people in the UK feel stressed more days a month than not. Whether it’s caused by personal or work-related issues, it’s clear that millions of people across the country require more support and guidance when it comes to managing stress, including increased accessibility to more effective solutions.

If an employee is suffering from bad mental health including stress or anxiety, this can directly impact their day-to-day activities, causing them to become easily distracted and less focused, reducing productivity levels as a result. This negative impact on productivity can lead to more extreme workplace anxiety as standards begin to gradually slip. Without the necessary tools in place to support mindfulness, a vicious cycle can begin where employees become stressed, their work suffers, and then they become more anxious about the declining quality of their work.

The relationship between wellbeing & job satisfaction
Understanding how mindfulness can reduce stress and increase job satisfaction is key to helping make it a priority in the workplace. Many businesses have started to address the relationship between mental wellbeing and stress through implementing education, management tools and support systems that help employees who may be struggling. In fact, according to a report carried out by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 40% of employers had recently expanded their benefits to cover mental health support including services that provide remote support for mental and physical health, such as Telemedicine. Despite the evidence of a clear move towards supporting employees outside of the workplace more, there is still over half of employers who have yet to make this change.

As a study on employee retention carried out by the Harvard Business Review highlights, job satisfaction is related to a range of internal factors, including achievement. When an employee is in the best position to achieve, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their job, allowing companies to retain talent as a result. The recent employer focus on mental and physical health wellbeing tools not only creates a more focused and healthier workforce, but it can also help create an environment better suited to helping employees achieve their goals.

Next steps
According to a report carried out by meditation, mindfulness and sleep app Samten, 73% of HR professionals believe that meditation and mindfulness could help improve focus and productivity in the workplace.

With this in mind, being able to provide your employees with the time and resources required to take care of their wellbeing is key. Whether you introduce a weekly group meditation session (in person or virtually), a digital ‘mindfulness coach’ or allow your staff to take a certain number of ‘wellbeing days’ each year, they can take the time to meditate, focus on mindfulness and deal with any stress they may have.

As stated by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) most recent guidelines, all employees should have access to mindfulness, yoga or meditation on an ongoing basis – delivered in a group or online (or a combination of both) as part of an ‘individual-level approach’ to reducing work stressors.

By creating a business environment that promotes openness when discussing wellbeing and mental health, you can empower your employees to practice mindfulness and meditation so that it becomes a part of their daily work routine, and eventually second nature.

With the future of working likely to remain ‘flexible’ for the foreseeable, employers should look to take more steps in ensuring their employees are content, with providing the means to be mindful being a key component in that.

*The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines regarding mental wellbeing at work aims to promote a supportive and inclusive work environment, including training and support for managers and helping people who have or are at risk of poor mental health.

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