When I did my first of three trainings in the world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program back in 1996, I never would have imagined I’d be leading a mindfulness strategy in a Fortune 50 company.
I also couldn’t have predicted that 20 years later, approximately 43% of companies would be offering a mindfulness program. I was simply an exercise physiologist curious about the well-being benefits of the body mind connection.
As a mindfulness-based practitioner, I feel concerned that mindfulness is being chased as the next new and shiny money making object. As a businesswoman, I helped create the market for mindfulness and feel a responsibility to help maintain its integrity.
As I present across the country, people often ask for suggestions on how to bring mindfulness to their organizations. I offer these recommendations with the intention to help you thoughtfully bring mindfulness to your company:
- Educate yourself on mindfulness and review the science. You’ll find that most of the research out there is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The American Mindfulness Research Association and Mindful.org are the most reliable resources on the topic.
- Develop a mindfulness meditation practice. You can’t sell something you don’t understand. And if you try, you’ll bring a watered down or inaccurate experience forward. I invite you to try Mindful Me, my own mobile friendly, online meditation program.
- Make room for a variety of intentions for why your leaders would want to bring mindfulness forward. Some wish to create a workplace culture of well-being. Others want to increase performance and reduce medical costs associated with stress-related illnesses. Still others may be motivated to increase engagement and retention. These are all fine reasons to offer a mindfulness program to your workforce.
- Identify key stakeholders and develop partnerships. Seek to understand their business objectives. Articulate how mindfulness can help each of them achieve their strategic priorities.
- Pilot a mindfulness program or tool with your employees, or a subset of them depending on the size of your organization. Explore a variety of options for engaging associates in mindfulness. It’s unlikely that a cookie cutter approach will work.
- Be sure the person delivering the mindfulness content has the appropriate credentials. Whether you’re bringing a teacher onsite or using an app, credentials matter. Look for someone who has completed professional in-person teacher/facilitator training in mindfulness. Here are a few of the top training institutions:
- Determine what you want to measure based on what’s important to your organization. It might be increased employee engagement or a health outcome, like reduced stress, better sleep, or improved pain management.
- Measure the impact of the program. Analyze the data and socialize the results. Be sure to capture qualitative data, too. Success stories about how mindfulness helps people during the workday are a powerful way to inspire further adoption.
I hope what I’ve shared empowers you to bring mindfulness to your organization in a way that holds integrity—in a manner that reflects what mindfulness truly is and how it benefits us both personally and professionally. I’d love to help you bring this life-changing message to others.