| 25.11.2019

Mindfulness can help combat burnouts – but can’t help to get rid of a bad boss

En mans händer i meditationsställning.
Mindfulness and yoga have become popular methods today for people to find tranquillity amidst the hectic tempo of everyday life. Now this meditation technique has entered Finnish working life.

In the USA, the application of mindfulness in the corporate world is more common, and it was there that Catarina Ahlvik discovered the phenomenon in 2012 whilst visiting Stanford University as a scholar. Ahlvik got to know Chade-Meng Tan, who developed a mindfulness programme for Google.

– It was like a glimpse from the future – I realised that this is where we are going, says Ahlvik, who defended her doctoral thesis at Hanken in August.

Meng helped Ahlvik design the study for her thesis. The mission was to develop 130 managers’ mindfulness skills at four large Finnish companies in eight weeks. The results were unanimous:

”We saw that both burnout and stress decreased, and the managers became better at mentally distancing themselves from work during their leisure time. On top of that, there were higher levels of involvement in their work”, says Ahlvik.

The introduction of mindfulness has, however, raised questions: how to ensure that the technique is applied for the well-being of employees and not as a free pass from structural problems? Mindfulness is limited to the individual; the structural responsibility still needs to be borne by the organisation.

“Mindfulness is about personal and emotional health. Even if employees work with developing themselves, there can still exist intolerable conditions that need solving at a corporate level. The two don’t exclude each other”, says Ahlvik.

This is shortened and translated version of an article from the Hanken Magazine No 3/2019. You can read the full article in Swedish here, and the whole magazine here.

Photo: iStock/fizkes