A Literature Review on Mindfulness at Work Places: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Outcomes

A Literature Review on Mindfulness at Work Places: Conceptualization, Measurement, and Outcomes

Mehlika Saraç (Bursa Uludag University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0058-3.ch004
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Although there are remarkable researches from different fields, little research has focused on how mindfulness relates to work-related outcomes. Since it is a new concept in an organizational context, there is a need for more studies to clarify the conceptualization and measurement of mindfulness and enhance the understanding of its relationships with related work-outcomes. This present study provides a detailed review of published studies that have defined and measure mindfulness in the work context and examined the relationship between mindfulness and possible work-related outcomes such as performance and wellbeing. As well as work-related outcomes, mediator and moderator variables were taken into consideration to enhance understanding of how mindfulness affects each outcome.
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For centuries, many cultures mentioned the benefits of mindfulness – a psychological state in which one focuses attention on events occurring in the present moment (Brown and Ryan, 2003; Dane, 2011). While mindfulness is often associated with traditions that are more philosophical than scientific, remarkable researches from different fields (Dane and Brummel, 2013) such as: clinical and counseling psychology (Shapiro et al., 2008), social and personality psychology (Niemiec et al., 2010, Teper et al., 2013), education and business (Burke, 2010, Dane and Brummel, 2013), validate the critical role of mindfulness in shaping human behavior. Particular psychologists and medical practitioners have raised interest in this phenomena by using mindfulness meditation. Since the concept of mindfulness has become highly popular, Amazon.com has over 2,000 books on mindfulness, and PsycINFO includes over 2,000 articles, papers, and dissertations about mindfulness (Glomb et al., 2012)

However, mindfulness also states the valuable meaning for organizations. Weick and Sutcliffe (2006) indicated that “all things are preceded by mind… and the mind indicates the complex of man’s faculties involved in perceiving, remembering, considering, evaluating and deciding ..organizing and organizational learning are dependent on qualities of mind and the way those qualities interrelate”. (p.515). From this perspective to focus on the mind may also help to understand behaviors in organizations. In recent years, organizations seem to understand the importance of mindfulness at workplaces that many organizations and corporations have started conducting mindfulness programs to their workforce. Companies including Aetna, General Mills, Google (Kelly and some universities such as Harvard business school, Stern School of Business at New York University, The U.S. Army have established mindfulness-based training programs to improve employee well-being and performance. (Hyland et al., 2015) Although this growing interest, academic researches investigating the potential benefits of mindfulness at work are still required. This

may be due to the difficulty of the conceptualization and operationalization of mindfulness that it is defined in different ways and there is a lack of consensus on the measurement of the construct.

While mindfulness has received relatively little investigation from a workplace perspective, it is suggested that it can carry unique variance beyond some work-related variables. For example, Dane and Brummel, (2013) considered that mindfulness and engagement are two very similar concepts. Dimensions of work engagement (vigor, dedication, and absorption) are highly related concepts with mental resources to tasks and events unfolding in the present moment. Since work engagement and its dimensions have been connected many positive work-related attitudes and behaviors such as job performance, satisfaction, turnover (Christian et al., 2011; Halbesleben, 2010; Salanova et al., 2005), it is reasonable to expect the similar relationship between mindfulness and work-related outcomes. Dane and Brummel, (2013) study findings support for a positive relationship between workplace mindfulness and job performance that remains significant even when accounting for the influence of three dimensions of work engagement on performance. Studies also indicated that mindfulness might have buffered individuals against mental-illness such as depression, anxiety, feelings of impulsiveness, and obsessive thought at work; however, these mental illnesses may cause lost work days, turnover, and absenteeism in the organizations (Auten and Fritz,2008). Thus understanding the role of mind and mindfulness in predicting possible work-related outcomes is crucial.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Employee Attitudes: An attitude is a psychological state of mind. In the workplace, employees can have either a positive or negative attitude about specific work tasks, products or services, co-workers or management, or the company as a whole.

SEM (Structural Equation Modeling): Structural equation modeling (sem) is a form of causal modeling that includes a diverse set of mathematical models, computer algorithms, and statistical methods that fit networks of constructs to data.

Mindfulness Intervention: Regular mindfulness practice is believed to help further psychological insight and emotional healing, over time. Mindfulness-based interventions, generally aimed at relieving symptoms of stress, mental health concerns, and physical pain can be used to address and treat a range of symptoms and concerns.

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