Best Practices for Setting up a Mindfulness Program in your Organization
- Grow mindfulness from grassroots. Find an Internal Champion to be the resource for employees approach for questions and concerns about their mindfulness practice. Mindfulness tends to grow best organically, from the bottom up, with internal buzz.
- Get buy-in from the top. Start training with the leaders of the organization to ensure that mindfulness practice is supported and encouraged from the top-down.
- Start with a clear intention. Determine the needs of the organization that mindfulness programming is meant to address. Is it about focus and productivity? mental health? leadership development? Seek out feedback from the active players and decision-makers face-to-face or with a quick survey.
- Connect the intention to the deeper values of the organization. What are the principles, priorities, and values of the organization and how will mindfulness fit within the corporate culture?
- Optimize the delivery method. It’s worth considering the following questions to get the learning context right: Should the workshops be held as a lunch-and-learn in or more formal workshop format? Should the meetings be held weekly or on a 1- to 2-day retreat? Should you mix leadership in with employees or keep these cultures separate? Ensure that employees have the tools to benefit from the intervention, including audio guides, slide decks, and written instructions for practice.
- Keep the groups intimate. When forming groups for mindfulness training try to stick to 10-25 people per group. It is important to have diversity within the group as different points of view, needs and interests will lead to a richer learning experience for all. Open dialogue and inquiry within the group are key ingredients for an optimal learning environment as they support participants’ sense of community and safety.
- Practice. Once members of the organization learn the basics of mindfulness support the practice by encouraging them to establish a consistent schedule. Employees should pick a consistent time of the day for meditation at work so it becomes a daily habit. Lunch hour is a great time because employees will feel free to be away from their desks and disconnected from the demands of their jobs for 20 minutes.
- Establish a dedicated quiet space in the office. Consider also creating a space that is warm and inviting and is a nice break from the fluorescent lights typical of an office environment. Add some comfortable seating such as yoga mats, cushions, and benches or a soft carpeted floor. Having some nice artwork or other accessories that inspire a connection to nature such as plants will also make the area more appealing.
- Measure the impact. Impact is broader than just ROI. Figure out what value the practice brings to the organization and find a way to measure the extent to which the training and ongoing practice contribute.Once the training is complete, distribute a questionnaire asking the employees to identify the pros and cons of the workshops and what they feel they need to continue their mindfulness practice on their own.
- Think long-term to get lasting value from mindfulness programs. Don’t neglect the power of follow-up and support. Ensure that your internal champion gets the proper training from your mindfulness trainer and continues to lead regular mind training sessions for all interested employees. A Booster sessions from your mindfulness trainer on a monthly or bi-monthly basis will help ensure success!