Mindfulness at work: A little bit goes a long way

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Workplace wellness is expanding beyond annual blood pressure checks to include the benefits of meditation, yoga and other exercises designed to manage stress and center the mind. But do such practices, known as mindfulness, really work? New research from Wharton management professor Lindsey Cameron finds that including just a few minutes of mindfulness in each day makes employees more helpful and productive.

Her paper, titled "Helping Others by Being in the Present Moment: Mindfulness and Prosocial Behavior at Work," was co-authored with Andrew C. Hafenbrack of the University of Washington, Gretchen M. Spreitzer of the University of Michigan, Chen Zhang of Tsinghua University, Laura J. Noval of Imperial College London, and Samah Shaffakat of Liverpool John Moores University. The paper was published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

"The key takeaways are that mindfulness works, and that you don't have to invest in an intensive eight-week intervention to be able to get the benefits from that because we all know that workplace life is deeply relational," says Cameron. "We spend more time at work than we actually do with our family, and sometimes there can be frictions. People are working in teams, so mindfulness can act like a buffer to improve relational coordination and functioning."

More information: Andrew C. Hafenbrack et al. Helping People by Being in the Present: Mindfulness Increases Prosocial Behavior, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.08.005

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