7 Crucial Foundations To Build Mindfulness At Work Into Your Wellbeing Strategy

Where do you start when introducing mindfulness into your workplace? We share 7 critical foundations that will help you to hustle for some calm.

With converts ranging from Google, Transport for London, Honda, the National Health Service, Microsoft and Aetna the results speak for themselves. Whether you have an established wellbeing programme or are designing a strategy from scratch, mindfulness should be firmly on the agenda. Here’s how to get it there.

The 7 Foundations

  1. Do your homework: This is where you set the scene. Mindfulness has a huge evidence base and this is your opportunity to sell it to your organisation. Get to grips with the scientific research into mindfulness, neuroscience, wellbeing, stress reduction, resilience and employee engagement. Arm yourself with data before you begin. Our research paper ‘Bullet Proof 9 to 5 -ers’ is a deep dive into the impact of an 8 week mindfulness programme upon leadership resilience, stress and compassion (we’re happy to share it with you.)
  2. We are the champions: Initially it’s important that you gain buy in from the top of the organisation. A handful of mindfulness champions will provide social proof, help you to establish the programme and smooth your path when it comes to talking about mindfulness.
  3. Be clear about your expectations: Start with the end in mind. What are you trying to achieve? Where are the issues in the organisation and how can mindfulness help to address them? Are you using the programme to reduce stress? to build resilience? increase compassion or employee engagement? (or all of the above?). There are a number of really good reasons to use mindfulness, knowing what yours is will help you to clarify the type of mindfulness intervention that you use. Will you implement a mindfulness at work programme? a mindfulness based stress reduction course (MBSR), mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or another type of mindfulness intervention?
  4. Consider the time commitment: The standard time commitment for many mindfulness programmes is 45 minutes of practice per day. Mindfulness Leadership programmes typically reduce this considerably to around 20 minutes or less per day. This is one for reflection, everyone is time poor and the reality is that many employees (wherever they are in the hierarchy) feel time pressured. Mindfulness guru Professor Ellen Langer believes that reducing the length of mindfulness projects may well defeat the object of doing them in the first place. This is really about finding the right balance for your business.
  5. It’s not a ‘stick’ by stealth: One of the concerns we often hear from prospective course participants is the fear that this is just another attempt to squeeze more out of an already stretched workforce. Is it the stick rather than carrot in disguise? This is a fair question and one that needs to be addressed head one. Mindfulness is part of your wellbeing offer, not the answer to your wellbeing woes. It isn’t a panacea. It won’t make workloads decrease, bureaucracy disappear or colleagues less annoying. What it will do is change your response to those stressful factors. Reassuring your workforce that this isn’t just another box ticking exercise is critical.
  6. Be prepared to answer questions: A Q&A session will help to bust any mindfulness myths as well as allay any fears. Your mindfulness teacher should be happy to provide a session where potential participants are able to find out more, answer questions and discuss an outline of the programme that you have chosen.
  7. Offer a taster: Once you’ve got buy in from senior leaders, worked out exactly what you want to achieve from the programme and clarified a genuine commitment with your team, go for it with a taster session. This will really give interested participants an opportunity to find out more first hand as well as discover if mindfulness is for them.

Originally published at positivechangeguru.com on December 21, 2016.