Mindfulness training has the potential to have a significant impact on the wellbeing and performance of your people and of your organisation as a whole, and businesses large and small and from all different industries are seeing a significant return on investment after implementing mindfulness programmes.
The overall success of a programme, however, will depend on a range of factors that should all be carefully considered before attempting to implement it.
Key questions to consider when planning a mindfulness implementation include the following:
Is the culture ready?
Chances are it’s more ready than you think! Thanks to the popular explosion of mindfulness and the ever-increasing scientific evidence of its significant benefits, it has become much more accepted and common in the business world.
What are you hoping to achieve?
What outcomes are you expecting and how does this link to your overall business and wellbeing strategy? Is lifting engagement and performance at work the main goal? Improving people’s ability to manage complexity and make decisions? Increasing concentration and attention span? Enhancing levels of personal resilience? Or some combination of the above?
How will you measure business impact?
It’s really important to be very clear from the outset how you will measure business benefits. These will be a major selling point as you gain support for future programmes.
Self-report measures of productivity and attention, feedback from team members on leadership improvements, and measurements of absenteeism, employee engagement, and retention are all examples of possible impact measurement methods.
How will you engage stakeholders?
The head of SAP’s mindfulness programme, Peter Bostelman, advocates that you should lead with the science of mindfulness. Present the scientific research, and build this into your business case.
What’s the best way to communicate?
The language you use to engage your audience makes a big difference. Terms that emphasise the many positive benefits, such as increased leadership, resilience, performance and emotional intelligence may be better received that terms such as stress reduction.
Once you’ve answered the above questions, your next step is to decide on how you will implement your mindfulness programme.
One of the most fundamental decisions to make is whether to simply share information for people to digest in their own time, or whether to employ hands on teacher-led training programmes.
Although it’s important to have information available, mindfulness is a practice and change will come from providing people with a chance to build up a range of techniques to use at work and at home.
Teacher-led programmes are the most common way to learn mindfulness and are by far the most effective method in delivering lasting benefits.
Virtual courses, digital programmes, and apps may be easier to implement, however the evidence to prove the effectiveness of these programmes in a work setting is currently limited
As with virtual courses, the evidence to support the efficacy of very short courses is simply not there. It takes weeks for people to form any new habits, a key consideration if you want to embed lasting change.
How do you choose a training programme and a teacher?
The explosion in the popularity of mindfulness has, not surprisingly, led to a parallel explosion in people offering their skills to provide training.
The UK Government working party has some good guidelines to consider when selecting a teacher. They should have:
- experience working in similar organisations.
- completed a rigorous teacher-training pathway over at least 12 months.
- a well established personal mindfulness practice of their own.
Where to start?
To really understand the impact mindfulness training can have in your organisation consider engaging an external provider and running a pilot with those that are curious and keen to learn and to apply the benefits at work. Then find the most useful way to prove the impact, by measuring the benefits both with quantitative data and personal stories. Then, armed with evidence and feedback, build a business case with ideas for a wider roll out plan.