Mindfulness at work is just a ‘band aid’ for employee stress

12 Dec 2019 By Siobhan Palmer

Practices adopted by businesses don’t help staff resolve workplace problems, research reveals

Corporate mindfulness – an approach to wellbeing that is said to improve staff performance and focus – has been dubbed nothing more than a ‘band aid’ or ‘quick fix’ in a paper from Durham University Business School. 

Research conducted by Dr Mai Chi Vu for her PhD suggests mindfulness practices adopted by organisations don’t help employees resolve workplace issues, and are just a pressure-releasing technique to deal with stress that was actually caused by the company in the first place. 

Researchers interviewed 24 Buddhist executives in Vietnam, and compared corporate applications of mindfulness with the traditional Buddhist principles they take inspiration from. 

The study found that while Buddhist ‘right mindfulness’ is a tool used to help individuals develop themselves and problem-solve, applying such practices in workplaces is “misguided”, as no two people experience stress in the same way.

Professor Roger Gill, who supervised the study, says “corporate mindfulness has overshadowed the Buddhism-based nature of mindfulness, presenting mindfulness techniques as nothing more than a stress-release practice that is, or can be, easily misused or exploited”.

The researchers suggest that for corporate mindfulness to be effective, it needs to be implemented with compassion and in a targeted fashion, rather than across the board as a quick fix. 

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