Written by:

Updated on:

April 14, 2024

In today’s fast-paced world, the modern workplace is often associated with stress, deadlines, and a relentless pursuit of productivity. Amidst these constant demands and pressures, it’s no surprise that stress levels often run on high. Many employees in a wide variety of industries feel overwhelmed, burnt out, and disengaged, leading to negative impacts on the well-being of both the individual and the company.

Given the constant race and high stress of many workplaces, mindfulness is becoming increasingly important for employee and organizational well-being. Practicing mindfulness at work has a range of benefits, which we’ll explore in this comprehensive guide to using mindfulness in the workplace. 

If you’re seeking greater presence, balance, and well-being within the context of the work that you’re involved in, continue reading to find out how mindfulness can support you.

mindfulness at work, A Comprehensive Guide to Practicing Mindfulness at Work

What is Mindfulness in the Workplace?

Mindfulness can be defined as non-judgmental, moment-to-moment awareness. It’s about being aware of what we’re doing or feeling while we’re doing or feeling it. It entails a quality of heartfulness, asking that we cultivate caring, compassionate awareness towards each moment.

Mindfulness in the workplace entails applying this same principle of non-judgmental, moment-to-moment awareness to our professional activities and interactions. It asks that we be fully present with each unfolding moment at the workplace, whether we’re in a meeting, engaged in a difficult conversation, responding to emails, or feeling overwhelmed.

Scientific research is increasingly supporting the efficacy of workplace mindfulness. For example, the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace include stress reduction, enhanced job satisfaction, improved performance, and better relationships. These benefits (and the others we’ll explore later on in this article) support the well-being of not just employees but also the company as a whole. Organizations are, after all, only as strong, healthy, and resilient as the individuals within them.

Cases for Mindfulness in the Workplace

Stress in the workplace is pervasive and has a big impact on individual and organizational functioning. In fact, 63% of US employees report feeling ready to quit their job to avoid work-related stress. It’s estimated that the cost to the global economy of stress, anxiety, and depression is $1 trillion in lost productivity. Each day, one million workers don’t make it to work due to the stress they experience there.

All of this is just part of the reason that bringing mindfulness to the workplace is so important - and there are numerous case studies that show it has an impact. Consider the following organizational examples:

  • Dr. Lena Adams Kim, Senior Communications Consultant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, established the Mindful EPA as a way to help colleagues cope with pandemic-related stress and the administrative constraints that prevented them from addressing climate change to the fullest. In the beginning, a tool called Mindful Snacks was introduced - 15-minute online mindfulness sessions held twice weekly for any EPA employees who wanted to attend. 99% of participants reported feeling more at ease after the session and said that attending the session had a positive impact on their work.
  • In 2016, HSBC UK partnered with Kalapa Leadership Academy to create and deliver a mindfulness at work training program. Part of their charter is to “provide resources and a hub for sharing experiences and knowledge of mindfulness techniques to all HSBC colleagues from any background in an inclusive manner.” In 4 months, they measured a 75% ROI and there was a reported increase of employee well-being and performance.
  • In 2016, L’Oreal implemented a mindfulness program for its employees. Self-reported results from the program’s pilot participants included: 100% reporting improved clarity; 96% reporting increased patience; 95% reporting it had a positive impact on their work. Jade Ku Sonlin, Assistant Vice President of People Development and Learning at L’Oreal, also credits the program for sustained productivity and morale amongst employees during COVID.
mindfulness at work, A Comprehensive Guide to Practicing Mindfulness at Work

Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness does more than reduce stress, even though reducing stress is a worthwhile pursuit in its own right. Still, there are numerous other benefits of mindfulness in the workplace. In recent decades, these have been well-studied and documented. This is some of what the research suggests:

Reduced Stress

As mentioned, mindfulness can help reduce employee stress levels. One particular study, which included participants who worked for a Canadian government agency, suggests that the reduction in workplace stress was related to task appraisal. Specifically, mindfulness helped employees to see work tasks less as a threat. Other ways that mindfulness reduces stress is by increasing our awareness of our thoughts, reducing activity in the amygdala, and modifying our attitude towards stress.

Increased Work Performance

Research has also found that mindfulness can help us avoid distraction in the workplace, maintain concentration, and increase productivity. It can also help us to use our available energy resources to be more effective in creative work. This is part of the reason why mindfulness ultimately has a positive effect on individual work performance.

Enhanced Job Satisfaction

For employees, there is also evidence to suggest that trait mindfulness increases job satisfaction. One explanation for this is that it enhances work-family balance, which not only increases job satisfaction but also reduces turnover intention. So while this is certainly a benefit on an individual level, it is also a good sign for the organization. More satisfied employees will be more likely to stay with the company for a longer period of time.

Improved Work Relationships

Workplace mindfulness also has a positive impact on the relationships that form between employees. There are many reasons for this. For example, high levels of mindfulness lead to improved communication, less emotional reactivity, and reduced conflict. With practice, mindfulness helps us to listen more effectively and compassionately and also convey ourselves with greater clarity and kindness. These skills are invaluable for relationships - whether in the workplace or beyond.

Enhanced Decision-Making

Another benefit of practicing mindfulness at work is that it can improve employee decision-making. Part of this is due to the fact that stressful situations (which are common in the workplace) can impair our ability to weigh information and make wise decisions. Another way mindfulness improves our decisions is by reducing biased thinking, including sunk-cost decision-making biases. This is the tendency of individuals to keep investing time, money, and effort into a project or decision simply because they’ve already invested resources into it - regardless of the potential for future gains or losses.

Practicing Mindfulness at Work

While practicing mindfulness at work may feel daunting to those with little experience of it, there are many simple, accessible ways to get started. First of all, it’s important to demystify it. Mindfulness is not inherently spiritual or religious; it’s simply about being aware of what we’re doing and feeling. 

Whether you’re looking to practice mindfulness at work on your own or bring it to your team, consider these mindfulness at work tips for getting started:

Start Small

Mindfulness can be introduced and practiced in very small, simple ways. For example, five minutes of mindful breathing before a meeting may help to reduce stress, strong emotions, and reactivity. Additionally, in the midst of difficult workplace conversations, individuals and/or teams can take two minutes to bring mindfulness to their senses, helping to diffuse heated energy in the room.

Offer Mindfulness Training or Workshops

Mindfulness can also be brought to the workplace with the support of trained mindfulness teachers and experts. These professionals can lead workshops, retreats, and training sessions to educate employees on what mindfulness is and how to practice it. Sessions can be custom designed for your organization, helping to address the unique needs of your employees and organization as a whole.

Create Mindful Spaces

If you’re a leader within an organization, it can be helpful to create mindful spaces for your employees to take a mindful pause within. This could be a quiet room for meditation and reflection, a green space for nature or walking meditation, or even a comfortable corner dedicated to rest and relaxation. Providing these spaces encourages employees to take regular breaks and prioritize presence throughout the day.

Take Mindful Breaks

One easy way to enhance mindfulness at work is to make it a priority to take mindful breaks. This could be something like five minutes in-between tasks or ten minutes at lunch time. Mindful breaks are a great way to reset our energy, reduce stress, and return to our work with focus and clarity. Leaders and managers can support mindful breaks by encouraging employees to take pause throughout the day. Mini group meditation sessions are a great example of this, which could be led by a trained mindfulness meditation teacher (either in-house or out-sourced).

Lead by Example

If you’re looking to cultivate more mindfulness at work, whether as an individual employee,  team manager, or CEO, a great way to do that is to lead by example. What mindful qualities do you want to see more of at work? How can you develop those qualities for yourself so that they ripple out to inspire others? Qualities you can focus on cultivating and bringing to the workplace include curiosity, compassion, openness, and patience. Practice being the change you want to see. 

mindfulness at work, A Comprehensive Guide to Practicing Mindfulness at Work

Challenges and Considerations

It’s often said that mindfulness is simple but not easy. At its core, it is really just about cultivating presence and awareness, but there can be many barriers to doing so - whether on an individual or organizational level. Consider some of these potential challenges to introducing mindfulness in the workplace - as well as ways to work with these challenges:

Resistance from Employees

Some employees may be skeptical of mindfulness, viewing these practices as unrelated to work, too time consuming, or as being spiritual or religious.

The solution? Encourage open communication to address concerns and misconceptions. Highlight the benefits of mindfulness and invite employees to try in very small ways to start. Allow interest to grow organically.

Resistance from Upper Management

If you’re an employee looking to bring mindfulness to your organization, you may find that senior leaders perceive mindfulness as being unrelated to organizational goals. 

The solution? Engage in dialogue to demonstrate the potential benefits of mindfulness on both individual and organizational levels. Highlight research findings and case studies to showcase the value of these practices.

Lack of Training and Support

Without proper guidance and support, it may be hard to maintain a regular, effective mindfulness practice at the workplace. You may also have little idea of how to get started.

The solution? Seek out support from trained mindfulness teachers who can help employees develop and sustain their mindfulness practice. You can also find many helpful online resources for bringing mindfulness to organizations.

Organizational Culture

Workplace cultures that prioritize productivity over well-being may not be quick to embrace mindfulness initiatives (even though mindfulness can indeed support an organization’s goals).

The solution? Work on building your inner strength to make your own well-being a priority. Work on setting personal boundaries and taking time for self-care. Continue to advocate for mindfulness practices within your team or department, leading by example and openly discussing the importance of these practices with your colleagues. 

Tools and Resources

Whether you’re looking to practice mindfulness at the workplace on your own or you want to bring these practices to a wider team or organization as a whole, these tools and resources can support your initiatives.


Mindfulness can reduce stress and enhance well-being on an individual level, but we have to remember that what happens on an individual level impacts an organization at large. After all, an organization’s health and well-being is derived from the health of its individual parts. 

Practicing mindfulness at work is therefore of benefit to both a company and all the people within it. It can enhance work relationships, reduce stress, improve employee performance, increase job satisfaction, and improve decision-making. It’s a win-win for all involved.

Mindfulness is the simple practice of being present. By starting small, we can introduce mindfulness in ways that are both accessible and sustainable. Consider the ways in which mindfulness can meet the needs of you as an employee or the employees within your organization at large. May the power of these practices benefit us all - individually and collectively.

About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]