Building a Culture of Presence at Work
By Georgina Miranda, guest contributor
2021 continues to ask leaders to build practices that develop the ability to remain present and grow in resilience. In the middle of life's storms, presence can help us make better decisions in stressful environments and help us stay centered and responsive versus reactive. Operating from this place helps us to grow our resilience and not deplete our energy.
The future of work requires a commitment to the mental wellbeing of people. Regardless of the amazing products, services, or technology a company may be offering, its greatest resource is its people. Without the well-being of an organization's human capital, success is not sustainable. As a social entrepreneur, management consultant, and executive coach for over a decade, I continue to be surprised at how many organizations understand this in theory, but not in practice.
After a year of working through a global pandemic, stress levels, anxiety, and depression continue to rise around the world. Americans had already been experiencing high levels of burnout at work, but now research shows that nearly 76% of workers are burnt out in some capacity, while 1 in 10 is completely burnt out. While embedding wellbeing programs into the workplace is important, shifting a culture is more so.
As I have written before, we all need to learn the art of leading ourselves. It starts here. Yet an opportunity exists, now more than ever, for organizations to examine themselves in order to determine the internal shifts needed to build a culture of presence at work. This requires a shift in mindset and behavior from all levels to truly have an impact.
How to Start Building a Culture of Presence at Work:
- Invest in developing conscious leaders. Provide opportunities for leaders across all levels to develop mindfulness, compassion, and selflessness. This can be in the form of workshops, coaching, literature, town halls, wellbeing programs, and beyond. It's important to lead by example. We can't ask our people to do what we are not willing to do ourselves. As leaders develop in these capabilities, they have a higher level of awareness to better look after the wellbeing of their teams.
- Make presence a cultural value. Developing a practice of mindfulness helps us stay in the present moment and build resilience. It's a daily practice and not a one-time affair. For organizations that truly want to change, the change needs to start within at the core value level and with strong commitment and determination. Embedding presence as a cultural value sets the expectation for a new way of working across the organization at every level. It creates a new standard.
- Run mindful meetings. So often, we are in a meeting, but our mind is elsewhere or already onto the next meeting ahead. We can help everyone be more present at meetings by starting with a mindful moment. This can be a check-in with everyone around the room or Zoom sharing something we are grateful for that day, or taking a moment for mindful breathing as a team. For in-person meetings, discourage the use of phones or laptops at the meeting and dedicate one person to take notes, while for virtual meetings, encourage people to have their cameras on and also dedicate one person to take notes so the rest can focus. Remember to encourage individual participation and contributions throughout to keep everyone engaged and valued.
- Communicate presence. Be mindful of your company-wide communications and engagement. Encourage the prioritization of wellbeing while also expressing the goals and tasks at hand. Help people know they are valued by offering opportunities for one-on-one check-ins and feedback sessions while creating space for vulnerability. Remember, we are all in this together, it's our human condition that unites us all. As leaders, we have the responsibility to support our team and help them feel heard. Knowing their pain points and concerns helps develop meaningful and mindful solutions for the future and benefit of all.
- Provide mindfulness resources. As the world continues to shift to a more mindful one, a plethora of resources have become available. Companies are investing in mindfulness training/courses for their people, subscriptions to meditation apps, workshops to help embed and understand how these practices are applicable in the workplace, and more. With the high degree of burnout, stress, and anxiety employees are experiencing, it's critical to have clearly outlined resources to support the mental wellbeing of your people, which includes but is not limited to mindfulness. Studies continue to show that mindfulness helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression along with increasing focus and efficiency.
- Stay committed. This is not a trend or a quick fix. It's why it helps to embed this effort as an inherent organizational value. Identify how you will measure your progress and impact with your people. Keep open channels of communication in order to receive meaningful feedback to keep improving along the way.
Mindful leaders will be instrumental in shaping the future of work, where presence is more than valued, but the standard. I look forward to helping more companies in their journey to this state and transformation. I first truly felt the benefits of being present while mountaineering and having to make life-impacting decisions under the most extreme of circumstances. I was able to be responsive versus reactive and continue on despite the challenges due to a new level of resilience that had been unleashed in me. Presence was inner power. I know it will be a vital force in any organization during these trying times.
Georgina Miranda is dedicated to helping people, companies, and societies transform for their highest and best good across the globe. She is a social entrepreneur, mountaineer athlete, international speaker, writer, transformation coach, consultant, yogi, mindfulness and energy practitioner, activist, and founder and CEO of She Ventures. She is known for producing transformative experiences and for developing proficient, conscious leaders, entrepreneurs, and companies alike. Her client roster spans Fortune 500 companies globally. She also serves as the Explorer in Residence (EIR) at 4xi Consulting, impacting the Future of Work around the world. Follow Georgina on Instagram or connect with her on LinkedIn.