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  • Imogen Cox

How Achieving a Work-Wellbeing Balance is Parallel to Mindful Leadership

Team meeting from a birds eye view with two members shaking hands

Workforce wellbeing can be one of the key drivers towards organisational success. The concept of work-wellbeing relates to all aspects of one’s working and professional life, referring to health, happiness, and satisfaction of their work environment (1). Some appear to face the challenge of balancing work and personal wellbeing due to long working hours, increased work responsibility and, or poor resource management (2).

A strong workplace wellbeing strategy is likely built around the principles of mindful leadership. Mindful leadership emphasises the importance of being present, self-aware, compassionate, and authentic as a leader, with this contributing to effective leadership and a healthier organisation (3).

This blog will explore the importance of achieving work-wellbeing balance, its connection to mindful leadership and strategies to encourage it within organisations.

The Imperative of Work-Wellbeing Balance

The most effective organisations recognise that their most important resources are their employees (4). Employee wellbeing was identified as the third highest strategic issue by 400 global businesses in 2021 in comparison to fifth in 2018 (5).

This work-wellbeing balance encompasses the idea that individuals should not be overwhelmed by the demands of their professional life, but rather encourage a harmonious relationship between their work responsibilities and their personal wellbeing. It encourages a holistic approach that considers the key components, including an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. Additionally, it could also involve an individual’s financial wellbeing and overall job satisfaction.

Employees that are happy at work are more likely to be productive, engaged, and less inclined to burn out, ultimately benefiting the company's performance, culture, and retention of staff (6). Additionally, mindful leaders that prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce are ensuring that they are better equipped to manage challenges and are positioned for sustained growth and success in the competitive market.

The Link Between Mindful Leadership and Work-Wellbeing Balance

Mindful leadership is a management approach that is centred around the following key principles (7):

  • Presence: Mindful leaders are present in the moment which allows them to effectively engage in tasks, people, and situations.

  • Self-awareness: Mindful leaders are aware of and understand their own thoughts, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. They can recognise when they should take a step back to prioritise their own wellbeing to properly regulate their reactions, biases, and triggers.

  • Emotional Intelligence: Mindful leaders often have high emotional intelligence to manage their own emotions and empathise with others. They actively listen, understand various perspectives, are genuinely caring and compassionate.

  • Mindful Decision-Making: Mindful Leaders construct well-thought-out decisions, considering the long-term impact on themselves and others, that are consistent with their values and the organisation's mission, fostering trust and integrity within the workplace.

Both mindful leadership and work-wellbeing balance underline the need of being present, self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and authentic. Integrating mindful leadership practices not only encourages leaders to prioritise their own wellbeing but also their employees wellbeing. In turn, this creates a workplace environment that promotes and supports employees' overall wellbeing and work-life balance.

Furthermore, mindful leadership can improve leadership effectiveness by creating an environment where employees feel valued and heard, which in turn contributes to improved employee engagement and productivity, thus boosting organisational performance (7).

Prioritising Work-Wellbeing Balance

Investing in employee wellbeing and encouraging mindful leadership is a strategic decision that can yield positive rewards for organisations. For example, in 2022, Adobe was awarded the 7th best workplace for employee wellbeing. Adobe promotes mindfulness through meditation classes and has a focus on employee health and wellbeing, including well-deserved days off, wellness reimbursements, and mental health resources (8). Alongside this, Adobe achieved an outstanding financial performance in 2022 with $7.84 billion in revenue, demonstrating that investing in employee wellbeing does not come at the expense of financial success; rather, it complements it (9). By prioritising wellbeing, it can lead to a greater return of investment (ROI) of wellbeing initiatives. Adobe has been able to create a happier, healthier, and more engaged workforce, enhancing innovation and boosting organisational performance.

Strategies for Integration

For leaders looking to promote a work-wellbeing balance and integrate mindful leadership practices, one approach could be through offering flexible work arrangements. This may include adjusting work hours or offering remote working options, empowering employees to manage their own schedule and work-life balance. Additionally, organisations can explore the implementation of wellness and mental health support programs, to support learning opportunities for personal and professional growth among employees. Furthermore, fostering open, and honest communication can be achieved through various means, including one-on-one meetings, designated feedback sessions, and monthly check-ins. Ultimately, a leader should consider leading by example, demonstrating their own work-life balance. By doing so, they create an environment where employees are encouraged to thrive, evolve, and find their own paths to success (10).

An organisation that has implemented similar strategies is Patagonia. They have a strong focus on employee wellbeing providing on-site childcare, yoga classes and even opportunities for employees to take regular surf breaks (11).

Overcoming Challenges

Despite the benefits of work-wellbeing balance and mindful leadership, the implementation of these practices may be challenging. Common problems faced are the budget constraints and the justification of these costs. For example, organisations with restricted budgets may struggle to get the resources for wellbeing programs. Leaders may face criticism from shareholders who doubt the financial sustainability of wellbeing programmes, particularly when other areas of the organisation may be receiving budget cuts or redundancies of employees. Solutions to combat these challenges could be to strategically allocate budget for employee wellbeing resources and programs, demonstrate the ROI of wellbeing initiatives through data and metrics which can lead to long-term cost savings.

While implementing and providing educational courses is important, another significant challenge that organisations face is the limited employee engagement and involvement in them. Additionally, there is no ‘one size fits all’, employees have diverse wellbeing and health concerns, coupled with unique schedules and limited time to engage in wellness programs. To overcome this challenge, organisations may conduct surveys to gather employee feedback, allowing a better understanding of their specific needs. Customised wellbeing programs, tailored to the employees could then be considered; as well as flexible scheduling for wellbeing activities and programs which may be incentivised for participation to further enhance employee engagement (12).

In conclusion, achieving a work-wellbeing balance can be fundamental for organisational growth and success but also a better future for employees. Mindful leadership encompasses the key principles of presence, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, mindful decision making, as well as empathy and compassion; all of which influence the harmony of one's work and professional well-being. Adobe exemplifies how investments in employee well-being and mindful leadership bring about significant benefits. Practical strategies, such as flexible work arrangements and open communication, empower employees to manage their work-life balance. Challenges, including budget constraints and engagement issues, can be addressed through strategic resource allocation and personalised wellbeing programs.

Organisations that invest in employee wellbeing cultivate a workforce that is not only more engaged and productive, but also more resilient and capable of overcoming challenges, contributing to long-term success.


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