How many times have you gone onto ‘autopilot’ at work, undertaking a task while your thoughts drift elsewhere? You may feel inundated with multiple tasks, unable to focus on a primary project or feel unmotivated at work. Whatever the workplace situation, it pays to be mindful and stay in the present.

What is mindfulness?

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology defines mindfulness as “a state of consciousness in which attention is focused on present-moment phenomena occurring both externally and internally” (Report on “Paying Attention to Mindfulness and Its Effects on Task Performance in the Workplace”). Being able to focus on the task at hand through mindful techniques can be beneficial to a retailer’s bottom line. Programming the mind to remain calm when deadlines are imminent or things feel hectic can make the difference between a stressed or calm and productive workforce.

The psychology of mindfulness in leadership

Being open and present in leadership, and receptive to each given situation, can enhance leadership potential. Using mindful tools in retail business leadership can give a competitive edge and have the knock-on effect of happier, more centred employees. So how can it work for you?

Jacqueline Carter and Rasmus Hougaard, coauthors of “The Mind of the Leader”, write about the key challenges facing leaders today. Jacqueline described how three soft skills at work are key:

Mindfulness: Being aware of the present moment and not overreacting to a stressful situation is key. Taking that valuable pause, a deep inhale and exhale, offers a moment to consider appropriate action, if any is needed. You don’t have to try to empty your mind of thoughts or float on a cloud all day. Instead, these short pauses, focused on balanced breathing, can make all the difference to a production outcome.

Compassion: Pressurising workers is an outdated method of getting things done. The retail workplace can be a highly stressed environment, with strict deadlines and heavy responsibility. In modern leadership, it’s important to express compassion, whilst ensuring that the team bond together to meet the challenges ahead.

Selflessness: Don’t let your ego get in the way of work success. The best leaders consider others opinions and appear relatable, even when they are calling the shots.

Developing your own, daily meditation practice, beginning a meeting with a mindfulness minute, or allocating a peaceful, stress-free zone at work can all prove effective.

Workplace stress is on the rise

In a recent survey by the Korn Ferry Institute entitled “Workplace Stress Continues to Mount” over 2000 professionals stated that they are more stressed than five years ago, with two-thirds saying it’s costing them sleep. If we are to ensure a more productive retail workplace in the future, it certainly pays to be mindful.