Seventy percent of employees reported that their most substantial contributor to stress was their job (Azagba & Sharaf, 2011). Fifty-one percent of employees indicate that job stress decreases productivity (Azagba & Sharaf, 2011).
The Human Resources (HR) department can aid in stress relief without overhauling their policies and budgets. By focusing on one aspect of talent management, managing individuals through a stress reduction resource.
Talent management “is the goal-oriented integrated process of planning, recruiting, developing, managing, and compensating employees (Riggio, 2013).” It is the HR manager who must ensure that the organization facilitates growth and support for the employee. Mindfulness as a stress reduction tool is an excellent tool for HR managers to have.
Mindfulness is the nonjudgmental process of bringing awareness to one’s moment-to-moment experiences, their thoughts, breathing, body, and environment (Rosenzweig et al., 2003). There are many stress reduction interventions programs, many require a lot of time and are not have empirical evidence of their intervention reducing work stress. In contrast, mindfulness has a large, robust body of research utilized in various populations around the world.
Mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, psychological distress, and negative emotions. A metanalysis looked at mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) and its negative relationship to psychological distress (PsyD), the sample included 1,139 participants,19 controlled and uncontrolled interventions (Virgili, 2015).
By reviewing this meta-analysis of multiple applications of MBIs, we can get a sense of the effectiveness, common mediators, moderators, along with the size of the effect of the intervention.
Among the wide array of mindfulness benefits, we are going to look at psychological distress. “Psychological distress is the general term that is used to describe unpleasant feelings or emotions that impact your level of functioning (Gregoire & Lachance, 2014).”
By investigating the general frequency of stress and the adverse effects of psychological distress we can surmise that this disrupts work life. In this metanalysis, MBIs had a medium to large effect on reducing psychological distress in working adults.
Additionally, the effect size for pre-test and post-test groups was moderately large g= .68, 95% CI [.58, .78] (Virgili, 2015). Across interventions that measured PsyD at session and end of the MBIs found a significantly lower score of PsyD. Across interventions with a control group also found significantly lower PsyD (g=, 95% CI [.58, .78]). Thus, the HR department can mitigate the effect of job stress without large-scale organizational change.
MBIs can be implemented with the help of a specialist and be sustained with free online resources, for example, mindfulness.com. Implementation could be as simple as a five-week intervention with 15 minutes of daily audio mindfulness practices (Gregoire & Lachance, 2014).
According to research a shorter intervention such as the proposed five-week intervention will have the same impact as a longer intervention (Virgili, 2015). Mindfulness interventions range from 8 weeks to 5 weeks, in my research I looked specifically at the individual implementation of mindfulness as to reduce the time and scheduling required for large group sessions.
As with any tool, HR might use their strengths and limitations associated. A possible limitation is in the implementation of MBIs. For example, if employees are forced to participate in mindfulness exercises, they are less likely to have the benefit of reduced psychological distress (Virgili, 2015).
Another limitation is the duration, mindfulness skills for stress reduction take time to build if employees are expecting immediate results after on exercise then they may abandon this resource (Virgili, 2015). Therefore, in a group setting apprehension a moderator as well as when employees want immediate gratification. Consequently, the level of application, individual or team level can moderate the effectiveness of the intervention.
Decreasing employee stress is one of the many outcomes of this type of intervention (Grover et al., 2016). There are many other tested outcomes of MBIs interventions in various organizations. Another result includes the company saving money regarding work days lost.
A study by Azagba & Sharaf (2011), found that those who were in moderate to high-stress jobs have significantly more doctor visits than those with low job stress. Unexpected increases in doctor visits lead to unpredictable absenteeism, which can cost the organization time and money. Additionally, those who were in the high-stress job section missed work due to health reasons more than those with moderate job stress. Likely, those who get paid more usually have more responsibility.
Their obligations will have to be unexpectedly picked up by co-workers who can delay productivity and organizational effectiveness (Azagba & Sharaf, 2011). Lastly, by reducing employee stress, it may be easier for HR to address other needs essential needs of the employee, such as job development and advancement.
There is a lot of time and responsibility put into talent management, but a daily 15-minute stress reduction resource may prepare employees for these other HR activities.
Azagba, A., Sharaf, F. S. (2011), Psychosocial working conditions and the utilization of healthcare services. BMC Public Health. Retrieved from: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-11-642
Gregoire, S., Lachance, L. (2015). Evaluation of a brief mindfulness-based intervention to reduce psychological distress in the workplace. Mindfulness, 6, 836-847.
Grover, L. S., Teo, S., Pick, D., Roche, M. (2016). Mindfulness as a personal resource to reduce work stress in the job demands-resources model. Stress and Health.
Riggio, R. E. (2013). Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Pearson, 6
Rosenzweig, S., Reibel, D. K., Greeson, J. M., Brainard, G. C., Hojat, M. (2003). Mindfulness-based stress reduction lowers psychological distress in medical students. Teach Learn Med, 15, 88-92
Virgili, M. (2015). Mindfulness-based interventions reduce psychological distress in working adults: a meta-analysis of interventions studies. Mindfulness, 6, 326-337