Thought Leader: Dr. Chris Lyddy

Dr. Chris Lyddy is a pioneer in studying the integration and impacts of mindfulness at work. An assistant professor of management at the Providence College School of Business, his seminal paper “Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review,” published with a large team of top experts, was recently awarded the prestigious 2021 Scholarly Impact Award from the Journal of Management. Drawing from over 4,000 scientific papers, this article established how mindfulness may benefit how individuals feel and function at work. Such findings have supported mainstream efforts to help realize organizational goals by promoting mindfulness, or what he and his colleague have termed “contemplative management.”

Dr. Chris Lyddy on the Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace.

Yet Dr. Lyddy’s more recent research has revealed an increasingly nuanced – and at times surprising – picture about integrating mindfulness into work. This research, conducted with Dr. Darren Good of Pepperdine University, has been published in Frontiers in Psychology and summarized in a London School of Economics Business Review post. The review of available research showed that integrating mindfulness in the workplace had clear benefits. However, all of their interviewees said being mindful while doing lots of work was often challenging, and sometimes impossible. Dr. Lyddy presaged the implications of this experience in a short 2018 interview, suggesting there was “a tiny bit of evidence” that mindfulness might also have downsides. “But that’s very new and I think there’s a lot more research to be done… That’s a topic for future inquiry,” he concluded with a smile.

And, indeed, Lyddy and his colleagues went on to publish a robust study confirming this suspicion titled “The Costs of Mindfulness At Work” in the Journal of Applied Psychology. This research documented – for the first time – that being mindful at work can have real costs. In particular, when a job involves acting inauthentically (or what organizational psychologists call “surface acting”), being more mindful can actually impair performance. Their findings show that being more aware of “being fake” on the job can lead individuals to act less intentionally and less effectively.

To share their findings with a broad audience, Dr. Lyddy’s team published a summary of their work for managers in Harvard Business Review. In the article, they offer four strategies to help organizations successfully implement mindfulness programs at work while limiting these negative side effects.

Dr. Lyddy’s ongoing research considers the role of mindfulness and meditation in learning and communication processes, customer service, and well-being and effectiveness during COVID-19.

Hear Dr. Lyddy discuss the benefits and situational costs of mindfulness, as well as additional research he hopes to conduct, in this podcast:

Want to learn more? Follow Dr. Chris Lyddy on Twitter!