Living Mindfully with Aruna Manathunge:
Mindfulness Enters the Hospital - Part 2:
A first in Sri Lanka
A pioneering one-day workshop on 'Mindfulness' was conducted by a
leading private hospital for their management staff earlier this month.
This was the first time a Sri Lankan hospital conducted a program on
Mindfulness for the staff. Such recognition of the practical value of
Mindfulness by a premier Sri Lanka hospital is important due to many
Better care for the patients due to Mindfulness
Firstly, as mentioned in last week's article, the brownout and the
burnout among doctors and nurses due to stress is growing each year at
an alarming rate. We pointed out that 46% of doctors had reported
burnout according to a 2015 survey done by Medscape. Such high rates
could erode the ability of these very important healthcare workers to
place the needs and wellbeing of the patients at the forefront. With
burnout comes the increased risk of medical error and a decrease in the
quality of patient care.
such, the initiative taken by the hospital provided the healthcare staff
with proven methodology of Mindfulness that could overcome the effects
of burnout. This in turn will lead to better patient care at the
The importance of employee retention
Secondly, Mindfulness helps to retain employees. Finding good
employees and retaining them is critical for any successful
organization. This is equally true for a hospital or any other
organization. Employee retention is measured by 'Employee Turnover'.
Employee Turnover refers to the number or percentage of workers who
leave an organisation and are replaced by new employees. When the
percentage is high, the retention of workers is low.
Retaining good employees is critical because the real cost of
employee turnover is quite high. According to some studies (Society for
Human Resource Management), the direct cost of employee replacement can
be 6-9 times of the annual salary or even much higher at 1.5 - 2 times
the annual salary of the employee.
The indirect costs of turnover are more subtle. These are lost
productivity (a new person will take at least 1-2 years to reach the
productivity level of an existing person), Lost engagement among other
employees (who see high turnover and disengage and loose interest) and
cultural impact (Whenever someone leaves, others take time to ask
There is an even a more important issue connected to healthcare
settings. These are the customer service errors as new employees take
longer and are less adept at solving problems. In case of the nursing
staff, this could lead to serious issues. In addition the senior staff
will get tired of having to constantly train and shoulder the
responsibilities of new recruits.
Mindfulness drives Employee Retention
Mindfulness can help to retain employees in unexpected ways. The
regular practice of Mindfulness reduces the brownout and burnout among
the staff. As a result, their tolerability to work increase
dramatically. Studies have found that Mindfulness among the senior staff
in turn develops motivation among the junior staff.
The practice of Mindfulness at the corporate level of a hospital
leads to changing of the culture of the organisation as the senior staff
and the junior staff starts to mutually contribute towards the physical,
emotional and financial well-being of each other.
Team work and tolerability among the staff improves. This was noticed
even during the one-day Mindfulness workshop conducted at the hospital.
The benefits of teamwork and tolerability achieved after an eight weeks
training in Mindfulness are clearly higher according to global results
achieved in hospitals in the USA and UK.
Studies have also found that when work related problems come up,
those become easier to resolve among the hospital workers who practiced
Such easiness of problem solving occurred both at the individual and
at the team level. This leads to far better work engagement among the
staff due to their improved job performance. The staff improves in
vigor, dedication and absorption of new systems better due to
All this helps to drive motivation and retention among the staff.
Some of the leading hospitals in the world have started to build
Mindfulness into their core operations.
Aruna Manathunge has practised Mindfulness for over 42 years. During
the past 7 years he has closely followed the development of Mind Science
in the Western world. He has had a long career as the Country Head of
Sri Lanka and the Head of the Indian Sub-Continent of an American
Pharmaceutical Multinational company. Presently Aruna conducts coaching
in Mindfulness to schools and Companies. Aruna can be contacted at