Using Mindfulness to Enhance Your HR Function – Introduction

March 6, 2017

There’s been much talk about mindfulness.  Many of you will recognize it as part of a yoga or meditation practice.  Don’t worry.  I’m not going to suggest that you meditate or strike a pose in the office.  I am going to ask you to do something even more terrifying.  Turn off the distractions. Email, mobile phone, social media, TV news – all off.  Take five or ten minutes and relax.  Maybe you will sit outside (weather permitting).  Maybe you will listen to relaxing music or nature sounds.  Maybe you simply will sit with your eyes closed.

Now that you’re relaxed and your mind is clear, answer these questions: When was the last time you paid attention – real attention – to your HR function?  Have you updated recruiting methods?  Have you revised applications?  Have you trained managers to manage their teams?  Do you know what’s in the handbook?  Do you even know where the employee handbook is?  Are you using an evaluation format that you inherited from someone who ran HR in the ‘70s?  Are you wondering why you’ve not been getting the applicants you would like?  Are you worried about whether you have the right people to lead your company into the future?

Too often HR is the last item on your “To Do” list because it’s not a profit center.  But the foundation of every one of your profit centers is your people.  If you don’t have a strong HR function, the rest of your company suffers.

Those of you who practice mindfulness through yoga or meditation are probably wondering how any analysis of HR relates to mindfulness.  Years ago, I read an article about Jerry Brown visiting a monastery.  He was so excited to be there, he couldn’t help asking many questions.  One of the monks finally told him, “Do what it is you are doing.”  In other words, don’t multi-task.  Give your entire attention to the matter at hand.  (In Gov. Brown’s case, it was scrubbing the floor.)  Over the next several months, I’m going to ask you to relax then tackle your HR components one at a time, and I’m going to ask you to do it without multi-tasking.  Give your undivided attention to strengthen the foundation of your business.  The goal is to gain insight into your HR function and improve it to improve your business.  We’ll start with recruiting.

Jean Novak is co-chair of the Employer-Employee Relations Practice Group and member of the Business Services and Public and Non-Profit Practice Groups. She can be reached at 412-281-5423 or at