Could Mindfulness Reduce Employee Absenteeism In the Workplace?

November 2, 2015

By Anne Foy. Guest Contributor

Whilst mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular, it tends to be a very personal experience which individuals find their own way to, and learn about at their own pace. However that could all be set to change. In research that could lead more employers to offer their employees dedicated mindfulness training, it has been revealed that mindfulness can help to reduce the levels of employee absenteeism in the workplace [1], saving the nation’s corporations millions of dollars. Absenteeism and the number of sick days being taken annually in the United States is a huge problem for the economy, with research suggesting that sick days (both valid and less so) cost an incredible $576 billion every year.[2]

Whilst mindfulness training isn’t amongst the most popular benefits offered by American employers right now (with that privilege being reserved for companies that offer both a high level of health care coverage, and assistance with retirement saving and planning [3]), enlightened firms are beginning to realise that by offering mindfulness training to their employees, and encouraging mindful practice both in and out of the workplace, they can support and enhance the wellbeing of their employees whilst simultaneouslyreducing their own expenditure on sick days and absenteeism. It can also help to reduce their health care and health insurance expenditure, as mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress related illness as well as helping to minimise and control any mental health problems too.

The Benefits of Mindfulness in The Workplace

Mindfulness can be incredibly beneficial in the workplace. Cultivating moment to moment feeling and self-awareness may seem like something that should be individual, but it can actually improve both the atmosphere and the levels of productivity in the workplace. [4] Mindfulness is a wonderful tool for building self-confidence as well as self-awareness, which is massively useful for team leaders and managers who are looking to share their vision with their teams and inspire them to get on board with new projects or new techniques. Research has also found, perhaps surprisingly, that mindfulness training can be just as efficient when delivered in an online environment as it can when it is delivered in an offline, face to face setting. This makes it much faster, easier, and more efficient for all employees to benefit from this training whilst causing the minimum amount of disruption to the workplace environment. Mindfulness is a wonderful workplace tool, particularly in workplaces that are fast paced and high pressured environments. The stress of working within these high pressure  workplaces can often lead to absenteeism. 65% of American employees have claimed that stress has caused them problems in the workplace, and cite this as one of the main reasons that they may choose to take time off work. [5] Practicing mindfulness can make you feel less stressed, more resilient, full of positive energy and better able to cope with the pressures of anything that your day throws at you, which is why mindfulness has so many positive applications in the workplace.

It is clear, then, that there are a myriad of positive ways in which mindfulness can be applied in the workplace that will be beneficial both to employers and their employees. Whilst wellbeing programmes (such as mindfulness training or utilising the Mind Spa system) should never be used in lieu of working to reduce stressors in the workplace, they can certainly be beneficial in helping to reduce stress, and better handle and manage those forces within a workplace that cannot be controlled. Now is an important time for the Mindfulness movement, with mindfulness becoming more wide stream and more widely accepted. That makes it the ideal time for the premises of mindfulness to be adopted by the corporate world, in order to reach and support as many people as possible.

References                                 

[1] “Mindfulness training reduces workplace stress and absenteeism”, Workplace Savings and Benefits, http://www.wsandb.co.uk/wsb/news/2432353/mindfulness-training-reduces-workplace-stress-and-absenteeism  

[2] “U.S. Workforce Illness Costs $576B Annually From Sick Days To Workers Compensation”, Forbeshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2012/09/12/u-s-workforce-illness-costs-576b-annually-from-sick-days-to-workers-compensation/

[3] “An overview of employee benefit offerings in the U.S”, Society for Human Resource Managementhttps://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Documents/14-0301%20Beneftis_Report_TEXT_FNL.pdf

[4] “Three benefits to mindfulness at work”, Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_benefits_to_mindfulness_at_work

[5] “Workplace stress”, The American Institute of Stresshttp://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/

 

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