We are human beings not human doings

No-one's ever taught us how to thrive in today's always-on world. Step forward mindfulness

The Dalai Lama said 'We are human beings not human doings'.

The world is getting faster, emails fill up our inboxes daily, and it is hard to switch off. Who has ever taught us to thrive in this busy world? Who can show us where the off button is so that we can stop, breathe, restart and realise that we have a choice in how we respond?

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Some might say that these qualities are lifesaving tools and necessary for all human beings. Especially as the world of work is not slowing down anytime soon.

When it comes to managing a hectic work life, mindfulness coaching is the way forward for businesses to ensure staff are equipped with the tools, techniques and way of being that positively affects how they perform.

A recent survey from the National Advertising Benevolent Society (which reported that it has seen a 67% increase in emotional and stress-related calls) proves that more attention to a healthy work/life balance is needed in the media industry.

Such findings show that wellbeing initiatives must be embraced across all sectors to ensure everyone has a healthy work/life balance. Mindfulness coaching, for example, gives businesses an opportunity to provide staff with an alternative approach to managing daily stresses and personal effectiveness.

In response to the demands of a service-driven culture we started working – across our two agencies Starcom and Mediavest|Spark – on integrating a healthy work/life balance into our busy media environment five years ago. We introduced the mindfulness programme in 2012 and the first six-week course, 'The Mindful Advantage', was offered in January 2013. Since then more than 150 people have attended the sessions.

Introducing mindfulness coaching at the agency was both bold and impactful. We started small and gradually introduced more people to the practice. Eventually Susan Peacock (of ‘LiveWorkWell’, our mindfulness partner) ran an open session for 45 minutes.

At the end of this 45-minute gathering 40 people signed up for the six-week course. There have been significant positive outcomes since. Feedback shows there has been a 19.1% increase in staff being able to manage work-related pressure appropriately, and a 17.8% rise in them being able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

All organisations should take note and realise that we are indeed human beings and not ‘human doings’. The ideal situation for me would be to witness all businesses inviting staff to become aware of personal resources, encouraging them to take ownership of their wellbeing, and helping deal with work-related stress more effectively.

Liz Nottingham is regional HR director at Starcom Mediavest Group and co-authored a chapter with Susan Peacock in Mindfulness in the Workplace