Happiness isn't just a nice extra. Study after study has shown that contented employees are productive employees. So how do you ensure your team members are in their best possible mood?
You can try buying your people perks, but that approach is costly and often falls flat. Another alternative is focusing on the latest in motivation science or wellness-boosting initiatives. All of which probably can't hurt, but a pair of new studies suggests that there's something even simpler that managers can do themselves to boost the well-being of their teams--just become more mindful.
There have been plenty of studies on the benefits of cultivating mindfulness for individuals, but this new research published in the journal Mindfulness, take a slightly different tack, looking at the effects of mindfulness training not on the person herself, but on the people she leads.
More Mindful Leaders Have Happier Employees
To get at the link between a supervisor's level of mindfulness and the employees' well-being, the researchers first looked at 96 managers, gauging both their own ability to be present in the moment and their team's level of job performance, emotional exhaustion, and work-life balance. As UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center writeup of the results reports, more mindfulness among leaders led only to good things among their direct reports.
"The more mindful the leader, the lower the employee's emotional exhaustion. More leader mindfulness was also associated with better work-life balance for the employee and better overall job performance ratings of the employee," says an article highlighting the findings.
Of course, just being mindful isn't enough if you're a lousy leader otherwise. The team's second study looked more closely at the issue and discovered--to absolutely no one's shock--that this effect was only visible when the basics of good management were in place. "Mindfulness alone isn't enough; employees don't receive the same benefits unless these basic psychological needs are also being met," is Greater Good's unsurprising summation.
Becoming More Mindful
If you're convinced by this relative commonsense finding, how should you proceed? There are plenty of formal training options that can teach leaders to be more mindful through simple tools like meditation (if you opt to go this route, know you'll be in great company), but there are also simple interventions you can start doing yourself today.
Here, for example, are three quick and simple ways to work more mindfulness into your day--or try just 20 minutes of yoga during a break. It will not only help keep you centered but also, research shows, boost your mental function and help fight the afternoon blahs.