Mindfulness is a very popular term these days and the idea of teaching mindfulness in the workplace is something that is becoming increasingly considered worthwhile.
1. Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace
The concept of mindfulness itself is very ancient, but it has found many applications in our age and culture as a way to relieve stress, improve focus and improve interpersonal relations.
Thus, introducing mindfulness in the workplace can have many positive outcomes in terms of productivity, better cooperation and communication between staff, and skills development for employees.
Generally, you will have happier staff!
So, you have decided that your company could benefit from introducing mindfulness to their employees. Then you might ask:
- How would you go about promoting mindfulness in your workplace?
- What techniques can you employ, what steps can you take and what considerations do you need to make to implement mindfulness in your workplace?
Below we have listed some tips and advice on what to do and how to proceed.
2. Considerations before You Introduce Mindfulness in the Workplace
What Is Your Company’s Culture?
Before you start introducing mindfulness in your workplace, think about your company’s culture. Is there already an environment that is conducive to accepting mindfulness? Or are you likely to meet resistance?
There are, for example, some myths and misconceptions that surround the idea of mindfulness.
For example, that mindfulness is about religion, or that it is only about meditation, or that its goal is emptying your mind from thoughts.
In fact, mindfulness is a human practice that is not necessarily linked to religion (even if its roots lie in Buddhism), nor it is just about meditation, which is just one of the ways in which it is possible to train for mindfulness.
Finally, mindfulness it is not about emptying your mind but, if anything, it is about focusing on the present moment, thus being engaged with the task at hand.
By understanding what the disposition towards mindfulness is in your company, you will be able to ask the right questions, talk to the right people and approach the subject in a way that is most appropriate for your company.
Talk to Staff in Your Company
Try to find out what people would like to use mindfulness for and how they think they would make the best of it. You can do so by interviewing people, running surveys or holding focus groups.
Clarify Your Goals for Using Mindfulness in the Workplace
In introducing mindfulness in the workplace, what would you like to achieve exactly?
Would you like staff to simply have the opportunity to employ mindfulness techniques during their lunch breaks? Would you like to change the company’s culture using mindfulness, or would you like to run an extensive training program?
If your goals are clear, then you will be better equipped to devise a mindfulness plan for your company.
Think about the Logistics
In promoting mindfulness in the workplace, you may want to consider what opportunities there are, as well as any obstacles that may need to be overcome.
For example, think about the budget available or the time that staff can use for training during working hours. You will need to take these things into consideration to assess what type of mindfulness training approach to adopt.
3. What Training Approach Should You Choose to Promote Mindfulness in the Workplace?
There are many ways in which you could promote mindfulness in the workplace. Let’s look at some of them.
Hiring a Mindfulness Practitioner
You can hire a mindfulness practitioner to hold teacher-led mindfulness sessions for staff. These sessions can extend between 4 and 10 weeks with staff attending 2 hours per week.
The advantage of this approach is that it helps people develop mindfulness habits in a consistent and regularly supported way. However, this approach can be expensive.
Arrange a One- or Two-days Training Session on Mindfulness
An alternative to hiring a mindfulness practitioner is to provide a one-day training session on mindfulness for staff, to give them an introduction on the topic.
You can hire a professional trainer for this, or ask your in-house trainer to deliver it. If you are a trainer yourself (either freelance or working in the HR department), you can design such training or you can purchase an off-the-shelf course.
For example, you could use our Introduction to Mindfulness training material package. This includes 67 PowerPoint slides, several mindfulness activities, a lesson plan, handouts, a participants’ workbook, and the trainer’s notes. All these files provide enough material for a full-day introductory course to mindfulness and they are fully customizable.
After the training session, you can then create a plan to implement mindfulness in the workplace and encourage staff to incorporate mindfulness habits and attitudes in their daily working life.
Purchase a Mindfulness App or an E-learning Course
Another possibility is to purchase a mindfulness app or an e-learning course that staff can do individually at their own pace.
The app and the e-learning modules can also be used in conjunction with the more traditional classroom-based mindfulness training session, in order to reinforce the ideas that staff has learned during the classroom session.
Implement Changes on a Daily Basis to Promote Mindfulness
You can simply implement some small and gradual changes by following our tips below. These steps can be taken in conjunction with supported training, to make sure that the theory is applied in practice and that what staff has learned during the training session sticks.
4. Practical Actions to Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace
Give Staff Time to Listen and Reflect
Often, in the workplace, we think that the faster we act or react, the more efficient we are. People who make fast decisions are seen as better leaders and better employees in general. However, this is not always the case as sometimes staff can feel under pressure to make a decision.
A mindfulness approach promotes focusing on the task at hand. This means listening carefully to the question, for example, rather than trying to pre-empt the other person.
Sometimes we start to think of an answer before the other person has even finished asking a question, so we can answer more quickly.
Being mindful means thinking about the impact of your words before you speak. So, within reason, people should be allowed time to think before they speak.
Another way to give people time to reflect is by allowing time in between meetings, rather than expecting staff to rush between one meeting and the next.
Encourage Staff to Carry out One Task Only at a Time
Multitasking is often seen as a sign of efficiency. In fact, it is the opposite because, if we try to multitask, we are more likely to make mistakes and we do not really save any time.
Mindfulness is about focusing on one task at a time and entering a state of flow which means that we can work on something efficiently, without feeling stressed.
A useful way to stick to one task at a time is to keep a diary with a list of tasks to be done at different times of the day.
It will not always be possible to keep to the schedule because unexpected tasks often crop up, but it is important to keep focusing on one task at a time.
Think of Your Action from Another Person’s Point of View
Mindfulness fosters compassion. So, encourage staff to think of something from another person’s point of view.
If we rush to answer an email just after having read it, for example, when we are anxious or upset about something, we might project our anxieties on the other person. So, we might assume that the other person’s intentions are more hostile than they actually are.
The key is to take your time to refocus, relax and re-read the message with a more detached attitude.
Do not Micromanage Staff
Give employees time to reflect and come up with their own ideas. If needed, you can gently guide them afterward.
Allow Time for Breaks
It is important to make sure that staff has their breaks. For example, they need to take time away from their workstations at lunchtime, so that they can recharge. Recharging is necessary to maintain focus and productivity.
Teach People How to Practise Mindfulness
This can be done either with mindfulness training sessions or by introducing staff to easy-to-do mindfulness activities.
For example, you can encourage staff to notice the little things around them. They can spend a minute or two, for example, focusing on the sounds around them, or their breathing, or on eating mindfully (i.e. by paying close attention to the taste, smell and texture of the food they are eating rather than trying to eat at their desks while answering emails).
Another quick and easy mindfulness practice is to focus on your own posture, by becoming aware of the way you are sitting or standing and how your body feels. Feel if there are any points where you feel tight or tense, and notice the feel of the ground below the feet.
These quick mindfulness activities are good for regaining focus and for calming the mind down.
Lead with Compassion
This means leading by example, by embracing the principles of focus and compassion and fostering a leadership style that uses empathy and emotional connection.
Encourage Staff to Focus on Positivity
One of the ideas of mindfulness is focusing on positivity. A good idea is to practice gratitude. It is easy to feel down and focus on what we do not have or what did not go well.
Instead, sometimes we tend to overlook the positive things that are in our lives. If we take a moment every day to be grateful for the good things we have or that happened to us, it will help us feel more positive overall.
At the end of every working day, for example, staff could write a gratitude note about anything positive they have experienced.
Introduce a Quiet Space
Provide staff with a quiet area where they can go and refocus for a moment. This should be a place where they can reflect, make plans, or even just sit and meditate for a couple of minutes, if needed, without being interrupted.
Do not Force Employees to Be Mindful
This goes without saying but, of course, you cannot force anyone to be mindful if they do not want to. You can, however, encourage positive change.
Commit to Mindfulness
This means that mindfulness in the workplace should be fostered continuously and consistently. It should not just be considered during a one-off training session and then forgotten about.
Provide Staff with Individual Support and Give Them Time and Space to Practice
Mindfulness in the workplace cannot take hold if you do not allow employees any time or space to practice.
Encourage Mindful Communication
Because mindfulness is about focus, mindful communication means that you need to really listen when somebody talks.
If somebody walks into your office, for example, stop writing that email and concentrate on what the person has to say. Also, do not think about what you are going to reply while they are still talking. Just listen intently and watch that person’s body language too.
Similarly, when you are speaking, be aware of the effect of your words on the other person. Speak with intention and without rushing.
5. Mindfulness Training for Companies
If you are looking for mindfulness training workshops as a company:
- mindfulness training workshops
- mindfulness in the workplace presentations
- corporate mindfulness teacher training
then the training materials package below provides all presentations and materials needed for providing mindfulness training workshops and presentations in a corporate environment.
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds
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