Mindfulness is effective in creating the space to step back from the crazy busyness of the day. In that space creativity, connectivity and collaboration grows.
However, as teachers our enthusiasm about the benefits of mindfulness can create a blind spot that interferes with clearly identifying an organisation’s needs. There is a danger that the solutions we offer may not be relevant to the challenges the organisation is facing. An overzealous selling of the benefits of mindfulness without a clear understanding of an organisation’s intent will not serve the client’s best interest.
There can be an over-reliance on clients asking the question ‘What can mindfulness do for us?’ Mindfulness is often perceived as a pleasant ‘add on’ to a corporate well-being programme. And yes, while it is helpful to provide staff with access to apps, webinars or live group sessions, workplace mindfulness training should be far more than just a ‘nice to have’. When implemented with a clear intent and there is an understanding of the benefits and limitations of workplace mindfulness training, it can become the cornerstone of an organisational development plan.
Understanding the Motivation
What is the organisation’s motivation for introducing mindfulness? Too often, discussions focus on solutions, rather than understanding the organisation’s needs. Solutions mindfulness offers, may not address the organisation’s needs, or challenges that the business is facing. It is essential that the organisation is clear about the challenges they are experiencing and understand how mindfulness can address them ( or maybe not) before embarking on a workplace mindfulness training.
Inviting staff to an introductory live mindfulness session is a useful tool to educate staff on what mindfulness is, what’s involved in building a mindful culture and the benefits of integrating mindful habits into the workday. Braining storming with staff from diverse backgrounds provides a platform to clearly identify the purpose of a workplace mindfulness programme and increases the potential for buy-in.
Employ focus groups to explore whether mindfulness is right for the organisation? Ask questions and unpeel the onion. Such questions might include the following:
- What team and individual competencies does the business want to build?
- What would a successful workplace mindfulness programme look like?
- How can success be measured? Explore matrices relevant to the project’s intent.
- What barriers might prevent the successful implementation of a workplace mindfulness programme?
Exploring how the organisation perceives the success of mindfulness training manages expectations around the project’s deliverables. Too often, mindfulness is sold as a ‘silver bullet’, which of course, it is not.
While mindfulness has many benefits, they will only be realised when an organisational approach is adopted. An organisational approach will require a long-term commitment and detailed planning. Mindfulness is not something to be learned and then put aside. For impact it requires continuous engagement. Mindfulness is a way of being, so too is a mindful culture. A mindful culture is where mindful behaviours and habits are collectively promoted.
When an organisation is intent on delivering an impactful workplace mindfulness training programme that is sustainable and scalable, it requires both individual and collective commitment.
With any investment, organisations seek value on return. It is important for an organisation to take time to understand its intention around introducing mindfulness training and use tools to measure the impact. Such tools include pre and post evaluation questionnaires, focus groups, monitoring teams that incorporate mindful habits versus teams that don’t. Such approaches enables the collection of measurable data on the impact of workplace mindfulness training.
By adopting this approach clear expectations are set in the early stages of the project and supports the organisation in clearly defining what success looks like.
It is a bit like preparing to paint a wall. The urge may be to splash the wall with a wonderful colour or to whitewash over existing imperfections; however, if the prep work has not been done, the paint will soon crack and peel.
It is important for organisations to resist the urge to be lulled into the hype about mindfulness, mindfulness will not provide the solution to address every challenge. However, when the preparation work is done, it can be a powerful lever in building cultures where employees can thrive. See my recent blog for further information on how to adopt an organisational approach to workplace mindfulness training.
Susan Keane as has worked in the business environment for 25 years and she brings to her role as a mindfulness trainer a profound understanding of the business environment. This experience has equipped her in a unique manner to facilitate sustainable and impactful workplace mindfulness programmes. She is currently chairperson the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland (MTAI) Workplace Mindfulness Group. Click here to schedule a call.