Mindfulness over madness: Karen Malody FCSI on employee wellbeing

smiling woman standing and putting pepper on stock pot
Karen Malody
Karen Malody

Founder and Owner

In a frantic post-pandemic world we need more than ever to focus on positive human relationships, says the owner of Culinary Options

As a former psychiatric social worker, and now as a foodservice consultant, two topics are always at the forefront of my mind: thought diversity and mindfulness. The two are inextricably connected in this chaotic, post-Covid world, where the psychological impact of all that loneliness, social alienation, and depression is yet to be fully measured.

I have been thrilled to see employee wellbeing begin to emerge more and more in client meetings and increasingly be listed as a corporate brand pillar. Providing experiences – not just food – has risen to the top of conversations as we all pondered not just how to entice people back to work, but how to provide amenities and environments that created delight and contentment while there.

Human skills

Imagine, then, my delight when I opened the recently released Mintel 2024 Global Consumer Trends Report.

The first trend was “Being human”, the report explaining that, “In a world increasingly dominated by algorithms, we will need human skills and emotion to make the most of this technological revolution.”

The second trend mentioned was equally compelling: “Relationship renaissance”. A second idea so relevant to our times. The authors explain that “consumers who find comfort through screens at the cost of meaningful, real-life relationships, will seek new forms of intimacy for the sake of their physical and mental health.” This emphasized once again that the need for comfort and emotional reprieve is most powerfully present in authentic interactions and relationships with others.

A third trend then jumped off the page: “Positive perspectives”. Yes, please. In a world fraught with conflict, anger, financial, social, and philosophical uncertainty, it can be a challenge to eke out a bit of positivity. And each of us can expend thoughtful energy towards others through mindful interactions. As business leaders, consultants, colleagues, and employers, such mindfulness is incumbent upon us.

Imagine the future, now

So, what is mindfulness? It is the state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. It is the ability to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings moment to moment in a non-judgmental way. Behavioral scientists are already writing articles on the post-Covid phenomenon of preoccupation, scatter-brainedness due to stress, and worry about the future rather than being in the now. This epidemic distractedness is removing people from authentic and fulfilling transactions in their daily lives.

Prospection is the driver of mindfulness. Prospection identifies the concrete outcomes desired in the future, which helps us decide what course to take in the here-and-now. By imagining the future in vivid detail, we can shift choices that impact delayed outcomes over immediate ones. This is good because what we do in the now forms future outcomes. What may seem contradictory really isn’t: clear focus on desired future outcomes can bring focus and commitment to present actions in a manner that will result in the outcome you envision. And this is best stimulated by diversity of thought. The inclusion of diverse options when approaching situations and problems.

By building in diversity of options, we can positively create an environment of nurture, positivity, and quietly powerful leadership. It will help us:

  • Identify and declare concrete outcomes
  • Relate consciously to others
  • Embrace change
  • Say please and thank you

Karen Malody FCSI is the owner of Culinary Options foodservice consultancy

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