Movement, Mindfulness, and Motivation: How to Increase Employee Productivity

Last updated: May 15, 2023

Building a more engaged, high-results staff could require a shift in traditional ideas about where, when, and how the workday should unfold. To help your team achieve improved outcomes and have less stress doing it, focus on three almost effortless improvements to the modern workplace: Movement, mindfulness, and motivation are how you can increase employee productivity and enhance your team’s everyday experience at work.

Why Productivity Problems Need Holistic Solutions

We all want a workplace that’s humming with lucrative activity and happy, fulfilled co-workers. Even though there is clear evidence that an employee’s happy outlook directly correlates to output, we too often think more about the money and the busy-busy activity than we do the engaged employee. This lopsided thinking has done productivity no favors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity in Florida grew by only 0.6 percent in 2019, even with Floridians working longer hours and taking fewer vacation days.


In a competitive global market, this just won’t do. Successful organizations integrate holistic elements of personal, physical, and professional well-being into the workplace to recruit and retain top talent, maintain employee engagement, and boost both productivity and profit.


How can you make holistic upgrades to your productivity paradigm? Keep it simple and keep it focused on just three elements proven to positively affect employee’s day-to-day and long-term workplace experience: movement, mindfulness, and motivation.

two coworkers outside the office laughing with each other


It is no news to you that long stretches of uninterrupted slouching at your laptop can cause significant health effects, none of them good: cardiovascular conditions, obesity, diabetes, and depression. Hardly an experience that nurtures a happy, highly productive employee.


To combat the toll on health and emotions, many organizations now offer standing desks, fitness incentives on their health care plans, and access to workout equipment. A state-of-the-art gym with free all-day spin classes would be a phenomenal perk, but adding movement to your employees’ work life does not have to break your company’s budget. It can be quite inexpensive to tweak your culture so that movement is the norm, physical fitness is encouraged, and the desk is not the only location for getting work done.   


  • Take hourly walk breaks.  Rising from your desk chair more often during the day (even for just a five-minute walk) results in greater happiness, less fatigue, fewer food cravings, and no 3 o’clock slump. Take it a step further and gamify your walk culture by creating an ongoing step-tracker challenge for your team.
  • Commute smarter. You can personally add digits to your step count every day when you park in the back 40, but this can also become a perk for your employees. Those who opt for the least desirable, distant parking spaces can be encouraged to leave work, say, 30 minutes earlier than everyone else. Similarly, offer perks for those who bike to work, which saves employees money, improves their health, and makes them more likely to keep working for you.
  • Set a BHAG. If you’ve never set a big hairy audacious goal, creating a fitness challenge for your co-workers could make all of you BHAG fans. Choose a goal that frightens your team just a little: Group-climb a mountain? A marathon training group? A mile swim for charity? Soccer league? The health benefits and camaraderie of training for and participating in a major fitness event can do wonders for employee engagement and productivity.
  • Make passive improvements. Subtle shifts in your day-to-day office life can be incredibly effective in promoting movement. For instance, drop by a colleague’s desk instead of texting. Swap your chair for a stability ball. Create a pace space for anyone making a phone call. Plan weekly walking meetings. Institute movement breaks instead of coffee breaks (or better still, get both by strolling to a coffee station in another building).

a woman meditating in the office


Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, turning off criticism to observe and be present. It can be a formal practice, or it can be simply an internalized habit of managing your interaction with the world and the stress of your workplace. It seems a little counterintuitive that decompressing and clearing your thoughts could improve your productivity, but research suggests that just 15 minutes of meditation can lead to better business decisions.


What’s more, mindfulness encourages focus, empathy, and creativity, which lends itself to a more satisfied workforce. To formalize the practice as part of your company culture, management could show its commitment to mindfulness by modeling the behavior and also by offering training sessions for the team. Happily, anyone can “do” mindfulness right now, even in the middle of a busy office, by adding be-present elements throughout the day.


  • Minimize distractions. Turn off notifications, tuck away your cell during meetings, use only one screen at a time, slide that movable partition closer to your desk when the office gets hectic, and focus on the task at hand, not your entire to-do list.
  • Try a meditation app. Taking a mindfulness minibreak several times a day with a guided meditation session can help you quiet the chaos in under two minutes.
  • Focus on your breathingFeel better and more productive at work by training yourself to breathe with intention.
  • Practice acceptance. Making peace with a stressful project or difficult client can help you gain control of your own negative emotions and open yourself up to positive solutions. Regret, revenge, and dwelling do the opposite.

a man working in his office at his standing desk


No matter how intrinsically motivated a team member might be, your organization can create conditions to elevate motivation and, in turn, drive productivity. In other words, the annual review and cost-of-living raise won’t cut it. Motivating staff takes some creativity, continual encouragement, and ongoing positive reinforcement


  • Redesign the office. A stylish, well-designed workspace that allows employees the flexibility and freedom to choose to work quietly or in collaboration can inject a lot of enthusiasm into the workday.
  • Think about the seating arrangement. Just as in middle school, high performers and low performers influence each other’s behavior. If you don’t want top talent tainted by toxic officemates, assign desks with care.
  • Reward achievements. Compensation does not have to be a quarterly bonus (although that never hurts). Swag, PTO, flextime, outings, and free food can be powerful recognition for a job well done.
  • Offer high-level training: Career development programs are active, relevant measures that allow employees to feel valued and encouraged, thus motivated. USF offers exceptional on-campus, online, and on-site courses for project management, business analysis, human resources, and many more subjects through the Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education.


USF Professional Training is a Win for Your Whole Team

Offering development courses to your employees is powerful motivation for individual team members, but it also benefits your bottom line, customers, management, and staff as a whole. When you add professional training with USF to your employment package, you boost your team’s collective knowledge and expertise, attract career-focused job candidates, and build enthusiasm for and loyalty to your organization.


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