Workplace Mindfulness Leads to Positive Outcomes

female employees at whiteboard
Topic(s): burnout, job satisfaction, wellness
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2013)
Article: Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction
Authors: U.R. Hulsheger, H.J.E.M. Alberts, A. Feinholdt, J.W.B. Lang

Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

One of the newest psychological concepts that organizations are learning about is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state in which you pay attention to the present without making judgments, negative or positive, about the feelings or thoughts you have. Employees may be skeptical about this concept, and very few studies have investigated mindfulness in the workplace. However, a team of researchers (Hulsheger, Alberts, Feinholdt, & Lang, 2013) recently set out to determine the benefits of mindfulness at work.

RESEARCHING THE EFFECTS OF MINDFULNESS 

The researchers studied workers in service industries, because these fields tend to demand that employees fake their emotions at work, which is also called surface acting. For example, an employee might be really angry with a rude customer, but in a customer service role she must surface act, hiding her true feelings and pretending to be happy.

Through two studies, the researchers found that people vary both in how mindful they are at any given time (state mindfulness), as well as how mindful they are overall (trait mindfulness). The level of mindfulness also predicted job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion, with higher levels of mindfulness resulting in greater job satisfaction and less emotional exhaustion. In addition, mindfulness training reduced the need to fake positive emotions, causing job satisfaction to increase and emotional exhaustion to decrease.

ORGANIZATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

These results imply that mindfulness training can be beneficial to organizations, especially in service industries. People can be taught to be mindful, improving job satisfaction and reducing emotional exhaustion.

Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J. E. M., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. B. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 310–325.