Mindfulness training has been shown to help reduce stress, increase productivity and generally improve the performance of an organization's workforce. In a book series geared toward highlighting takeaways for HR leaders, we're taking a closer look at "Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out" by David Gelles. Gelles makes the case that organizations that embrace mindfulness techniques can experience benefits including better levels of engagement and productivity. Here are five strategies HR leaders can use to successfully implement mindfulness training in the workplace.
1. Make a Commitment
Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that one of the biggest pitfalls to successful workplace wellness training is one-time events. For example, if you conduct assessments that let employees know they're overweight, but fail to follow that up with stress reduction, access to a nutritionist or workplace-sponsored exercise programs, you're likely to have limited impact. Similarly, bringing in an expert to talk about mindfulness or introduce techniques only one time is unlikely to have a lasting impact on your team. Instead, consider taking a more committed approach to mindfulness.
2. Focus on Your Culture
A culture of health looks at every element of how the organization does business. Do you have a wellness program? Is your culture supportive of work-life balance? Do you cater events with healthy food, have an on-site gym or provide benefits like discounted gym memberships? Is your leadership team modeling the right behavior? According to Gelles, one business leader he spoke with noted that "the DNA of a company comes from the founder's personality. If I'm less anxious, everybody's less anxious."
3. Provide Individual Support
People will respond to mindfulness training differently. To support every employee individually, consider the following options:
- Use apps or tools that help workers personalize their wellness approach
- Provide courses or training that allow for some interaction with the instructor
- Pay for an expert to be available when employees have questions about getting started or further developing their practice
4. Dedicate the Time and Space Needed
When an individual begins a mindfulness practice, the first thing they need to do is make space for it in their schedule. From a business perspective, how are you accommodating your desire for individuals to practice mindfulness? Gelles says it's important to create a dedicated space for mindfulness practice. He suggests sponsoring regular programs such as an on-site yoga class or guided meditation. The more space and time is made available to help your team practice mindfulness, the more likely they are to engage in it.
5. Show Support
Often, teams may be reluctant to fully embrace mindfulness training and practices unless support is shown from the top down. Whether it's your C-suite participating in events or department leaders talking to their teams about the importance of mindfulness, build a leadership culture that incorporates mindfulness into how they approach challenges and problems. As HBR notes, it's well documented that mindfulness benefits CEOs — from clearer decision-making to lower levels of stress. Encourage your leaders to attend mindfulness training, leverage on-site facilities and talk to their staff about the benefits of fully embracing a mindfulness approach.
In today's world, organizations need every advantage possible to help their teams stay stress-free, focused and producing at a high level. Mindfulness training in the workplace is one way HR leaders can set their employees up for success.
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