Mindfulness minimises monotony

What impact does mindfulness have on those working more manual jobs, often characterised by monotony? Ellen Buchan reports on research conducted by the University of Essex Business School

Research conducted on people with ‘monotonous’ jobs in Mexico found that employees who were mindful found their jobs less boring and were less likely to quit than their co-workers. Mindful employees were more likely to produce more quality in their work, but interestingly the quantity of the work they produced went down. The employees’ attitude to work was also different: those with higher levels of mindfulness displayed greater levels of job satisfaction.

The findings suggest that employers should be investing in mindfulness initiatives for workers who do monotonous jobs. However, the researchers advised that employers should not wholly rely on mindfulness programmes to create employee satisfaction, instead focusing on issues that have been linked to monotonous jobs such as poor pay and design. They suggested that the mindfulness training should be carried out in a way which was respectful to the participants’ lives and founded on ethical intentions.

The research was based on a study of 174 blue-collar workers at a Mexican manufacturing plant that makes discount coupons for US retailers and where employees received no additional incentives for performing their tasks well. Researchers measured the workers’ mindfulness and boredom levels, as well as their attitude to work. After four months, they collected data about the quality and quantity of the work these employees had produced.

The study, which was entitled, It’s so boring – or is it? Examining the role of mindfulness forwork performance and attitudes in monotonous jobs was published in theJournal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology. It was co-authored by Andreas Wihler of theUniversity of Exeter Business School; Ute Regina Hülsheger of Maastricht University; Jochen Reb of Singapore Management University and Jochen Menges of the University of Zurich and Cambridge Judge Business School.

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