Researchers from Singapore Management University (SMU), the Hanken School of Economics, Finland; and two American universities have carried out a study titled ‘Overworked and Under-Resourced: A Mindfulness Intervention for Middle Manager Well-Being’.
The study set out to prove and did indeed find that Mindfulness training can help middle managers cope with the stress and emotional exhaustion commonly associated with their jobs.
The researchers carried out a randomised intervention study with 130 middle managers across four large organisations in Finland. Participants were randomly assigned to either an adapted eight-week programme in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – a widely used technique – or to a waitlisted control group.
Compared to the waitlisted group, middle managers who completed the mindfulness training programme reported substantial reductions in their levels of stress and emotional exhaustion, which are precursors to burnout, the researchers found.
Participants also reported increased levels of psychological detachment and being able to maintain a distance from challenging or upsetting work events.
“Work detachment has been found to be an important facilitator of recovery, and recovery from work is important in avoiding chronic stress and burnout,” says Associate Professor Jochen Reb of SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business and director of the Mindfulness Initiative @ SMU, who co-authored the research. More in-depth studies, however, are required to confirm this.
The researchers now intend to expand their study to other countries, and are also interested in exploring the impact of mindfulness interventions tailored to the workplace, such as Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training, on other qualities that are important in the workplace, such as decision making and leadership, says Professor Reb.