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Sunday, 22 November 2015





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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 reasons.

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.

As 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 hospital.

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 'why'?).

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 Mindfulness.

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 Mindfulness.

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 [email protected]


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