Skip to main content
Blog Post

A mindful step toward workplace productivity in Asia

Health and Benefits|Integrated Wellbeing|Talent
N/A

July 23, 2019

Mindfulness is a powerful wellbeing tool because it affects individuals’ everyday lives — especially in terms of sleep and productivity.

Sleep or work? This is a dilemma that many employees face every day, but especially in Asia. In fact, the BBC recently reported that South Korea and Japan topped a list of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries with the longest working hours last year. Seperately, in Hong Kong, some employees found themselves working up to 75 hours a week, according to government figures reported by the South China Morning Post. It's a similar story in Singapore.  These trends are the fallout of the region's lack of laws that cap weekly working hours. Often, this results in insufficient sleep — which can have many negative consequences on an employee's wellbeing.

In a 2017 Willis Towers Watson survey, more than a third of respondents reported struggling to get a good night's sleep because of job worries, early starts and late night work. The same study also found that 65% of respondents see tiredness from the job as a growing workplace problem over the past five years — a rising concern for employers seeking to engage and retain employees in an increasingly competitive labor market.

11%
of companies offer healthy sleep programs, with close to a third planning to offer it in the future.
more than 33%
of employees report struggling to get a good night's sleep because of job worries, early starts and late night work.

A lack of sleep has many ripple effects upon an employee's physical and emotional wellbeing. Long term, a chronic lack of sleep can even result in serious health issues, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. So, what can employers do about this?

Many employers have responded by making wellbeing a core part of their benefits strategy. One of the more common wellbeing initiatives we see on the ground involves mindfulness, simply because it's practical to implement and impacts everyday lives. 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people manage their thoughts, feelings and mental health. Rooted in Eastern ideologies such as Buddhism and Hinduism, mindfulness is also the practice of focusing one's awareness on the present moment, without judgment — simply accepting one's situation and mental state.

Many renowned and forward-thinking companies such as Google, Zappos, Nike, Huffington Post, Procter & Gamble recognise the importance of mindfulness.

Various clinical studies have suggested that mindfulness can help improve physical and emotional wellbeing. A German research team tested a mindfulness app on a group of employees and found that a two-week span of usage improved work engagement, job satisfaction and emotional intelligence. A Netherlands-based research team found that small amounts of mindfulness meditation improved sleep quality and sleep duration. Closer to home, a team from Nanyang Technological University found that even just watching a 6-minute mindfulness video after night training improved sleep quality among athletes.

Many renowned and forward-thinking companies such as Google, Zappos, Nike, Huffington Post, Procter & Gamble recognise the importance of mindfulness and have introduced aspects of it in their workforce to help. Google has even gone so far as to create their own mindfulness program called "Search Inside Yourself". However, not all companies may have the inclination or resources to create their own mindfulness programs.

There are methods of helping your employees rest and recharge such as the use of nap pods and integrating sleep friendly policies in the workplace. Willis Towers Watson research has also found that 11% of companies offer healthy sleep programs, with close to a third planning to offer it in the future. These types of enhanced employee benefits can play a role in helping keep talent healthy and engaged.

Tips to increase mindfulness at work

Employers can now achieve an emotionally balanced workforce by incorporating creative ways to integrate mindfulness strategies at the workplace. 

Here are five quick tips that employers can implement to increase mindfulness at work:

  1. Equip your employees with practical skills on how to cope with stressors through relaxation or meditation workshops.
  2. Implement policies to encourage your employees to take a nap break in between work, and create an environment that supports napping, and further enables employees to access self-care such as nap pods or rooms with massage chairs.
  3. Promote greater awareness of mindfulness, such as the display of educational materials with mindfulness reminders. Make it visible within the office and in areas that have high human traffic, such as the lobby, pantry, canteen or washrooms.
  4. Cultivate a habit of mindfulness. For example, before a long meeting, allocate 10 to 15 minutes before the start or end to practice mindfulness. These can be facilitated through short meditation videos, quick breathing exercises or helping employees to feel consciously present by observing a moment of silence.
  5. Introduce a mobile friendly and app-based solution that can support employees with very light-hearted mindfulness exercises on the go.

With 60% of Asia-Pacific employers seeking to introduce initiatives to reduce or combat stress and mental health, it is important to understand that a chronic lack of sleep has become more of a pertinent health issue that not just contributes to a global burden of non-communicable diseases, but also is highly impairing workforce productivity.

Having a holistic and integrated approach to health and wellbeing not just supports a healthier, happier and more productive workforce, employers who are committed are seen to be socially responsible too.

Related solutions

Contact Us
Related content tags, list of links Blog Post Health and Benefits Integrated Wellbeing Talent