We are not Robots! Refocusing on Human capital through Mindfulness

No this is not another article about AI. I find that sometimes we forget that our organisation’s main component parts are people, this might sound strange but bear with me. Mindfulness can help us meet our goals and objectives this year by re-tuning this focus back to human capital.

New year, new goals and objectives. How many start the year on the front foot, ready to go and energized to deliver change yet by the time February hits you’re already feeling burnt out and unable to sustain the pace? Sickness levels rising and the energy and enthusiasm you had at the start of the year lost? Sound familiar?

There is another way, Mindfulness. Here is the definition of Mindfulness from John Kabat ‘Paying attention in the present moment non-judgementally. So what does non-judgement mean? Just because you are non-judgemental does not mean you resign from it, it means you are able to take a step back and act logically, reasonably rather than emotionally reacting to things that go on.

There is a mis-conception I believe around Mindfulness which is that it is some kind of relaxation technique been brought in to ‘chill out’ staff, or I’ve sometimes heard it being talked about as the ‘fluffy’ stuff. The reality is actually it’s the hard stuff, I will explain.

I want to take you back to the science. Is it fair to say that your business/organisation is made up of people? Anyone got robots? (if you have, then great and another blog!) anyway so one of our most basic needs as humans is safety. A lot of the time and in particular stressful work environments where the focus is always to deliver more and more our brains are tricked into thinking they are in actual danger.

Our brains have not changed much since caveman times and the same structures that create the fight or flight response when a tiger is attacking us are the structures that respond to ever-increasing work demands. When we get ready for fight and flight, the logical and creative parts of our brain shut down and get us very basically ready to fight or run away, releasing cortisol and sending blood to our arms and legs, increasing our heart rate and sweating (nice!) all things that aren’t particularly useful for that board meeting.

As we go full steam ahead on goals and outcomes for the year ahead if we aren’t careful this can push us into this fight or flight mode. There really is another way and it’s a way that not only looks after the well-being of your staff but also helps them be more productive and creative.

Mindfulness helps to grow the regions of the brain responsible for learning and memory, emotional regulation and problem solving. It also creates resilience as we shrink down the fight or flight centre, the amygdala, helping it be less reactive to stressful situations. This is where the phrase you may have heard ‘slow down to speed up’ comes from. By taking the time to be present and slowing down and helping create pathways for mindful focus in our brains we are then better able to speed up in terms of actually meeting the goals we set in a calmer and more logical fashion rather than a stressed or rushed approach.

In one blue chip workplace that I partnered with to incorporate Mindfulness, it was clearly linked back to customer outcomes. There was a correlation between the reduction in staff absence and building mindfulness habits. The teams who went through the Mindfulness programme worked on the front-line answering customer calls and as a result of the Mindfulness training, the extra time in work resulted in 10,000 more customer calls answered!

What could you do to incorporate Mindfulness into your work life? I’ve heard of organisations setting reminders in diaries, creating spaces for meditation practice or doing a mindful minute at the start of a meeting. What will you do?

If I can help you with building some mindfulness habits that create results for not only the Well-being of your organisation but to help you ‘slow down to speed up’ and approach the year with productivity and creativity you can reach me here:

Gemma Sandwell TEDx speaker and accredited Mindfulness Coach.


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