Updated: Feb 28
Wait a minute. So the National Institutes of Health are calling chronic stress the global epidemic of the 21st century — and data from the American Institute of Stress clearly show that the primary source of stress for Americans is the workplace (whether at the office, working remotely, or after-hours on our mobile devices).
We all know what chronic stress and anxiety feels like. We know what it is to be under pressure — to have too many things on our plate — to feel like we're not getting enough done — to be constantly behind schedule — to know that we're not performing at our best.
And, of course these feelings become a negative spiral — the more we are anxious and distracted, the less interested and engaged we are in our work — and as we lose interest, our attention to quality, safety, productivity — even workplace civility goes out the window.
A Fundamental Shift
I mean, this sounds horrible, but it's not far off the typical modern work experience. And the trend lines for overload, anxiety, distraction, toxicity, conflict, exhaustion and burnout are going straight up.
I don't think letting people bring their dogs to work, or a new ping pong table in the employee lounge are going to solve this set of problems. These are pervasive mental challenges that require a fundamental shift in consciousness and a strong emotional toolset to overcome.
A Big No-Brainer
None of this has ever been in the Corporate Learner's Handbook (for obvious and very good reasons) — But science has opened the door now, with three decades of research into how the mind can change the brain. The cutting edge of that research has been studying the neural training process commonly referred to as "mindfulness".
Sure, this is new stuff — but it's an absolute no-brainer that we should be investing to help our people figure it out. Why wouldn't we do everything we can to help them develop a positive mindset, and rewire their neural circuits for engagement, concentration and performance?
And a Huge Win-Win
People want to work. We're designed to work. We've evolved to take joy in creativity, collaboration and accomplishment. And as employers, those are precisely the attributes we want at the foundation of our company culture.
So, bringing mindfulness training into the organization is at once the most strategic human capital project imaginable — and a huge win-win for the organization and its people. As human capital professionals, we should all be learning about this paradigm shift and the transformational potential it promises for leaders and the workforce.
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