6 Ways HR Leaders Can Encourage Mindfulness in the Workforce


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Monday, August 29, 2022

Promoting mindfulness among your employees can lead to a wide range of benefits for the business. Here's what you can do to drive understanding and acceptance of this practice.

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6 Ways HR Leaders Can Encourage Mindfulness in the Workforce

Businesses today need a strategy to promote and protect not only the physical health of their employees, but their mental wellbeing as well.

Recent years have brought an increased focus on mental wellness in general life and in the workplace. This is reflected by the rising popularity of meditation and mindfulness techniques, with research showing:

  • 76% of people meditate for health reasons
  • Four out of ten Americans meditate weekly
  • Mindfulness meditation improves memory
  • Dedicated meditation app Calm has generated nearly $2 million in annual revenue

If you're looking for new and productive ways to enable good mental health in your workplace, mindfulness could be the answer.

What are the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace?

According to Professor Mark Williams, former Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, mindfulness is about connecting with "what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment".

"It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives." - Professor Mark Williams

This heightened sense of awareness and connection - not only with ourselves but with the things and people around us - can lead to a range of benefits in the workplace, including:

  • Lower levels of stress and reduced risk of burnout
  • Increased focus as employees are better equipped to deal with distractions
  • More efficient and empathetic communication
  • Improved emotional intelligence, which contributes to stronger relationships and reduces the risk of conflict

If these would be valuable outcomes for your organization and its workforce, consider the steps you can take to improve understanding and acceptance of mindfulness throughout the business.

1. Think about company culture

One of the most important early steps is to consider company culture, with a focus on potential support that's available or obstacles you might face as you seek to educate people about mindfulness and its benefits.

Depending on the existing culture within your organization, you might face some resistance to the concept of mindfulness, possibly from senior leaders or employees who don't fully understand what it is and how advantageous it can be.

If this is the case, you might have to do some work on raising awareness and getting people on board with the idea for it to be truly effective.

2. Make a long-term commitment

Your efforts to promote mindfulness in the workplace won't bear fruit if they're not maintained and followed through over a long period of time.

Simply bringing in an expert to give a one-off, high-level talk about the subject, for instance, is unlikely to have any significant impact on how people think and behave over the long term. Information and education need to be supported by ongoing, practical provisions that turn mindfulness from a vague idea into a familiar aspect of how people work.

3. Provide structured training

If you want employees and the business as a whole to take mindfulness seriously, make it the focus of a structured, consistent training regime.

This is an approach that delivered results at Intel. Lindsay Benjamin, the tech company's corporate mindfulness lead, designed a ten-week program made up of 90-minute sessions delivered every Friday, featuring a weekly topic, meditation, timed writing and group activities.

"Employees are so busy and if that meeting is not on your calendar, whatever the fire drill of the day is will take over. You have to get them in the room to feel the stillness to create the neurological changes." - Lindsay Benjamin

4. Be prepared to invest

A certain level of company investment will be necessary for truly effective promotion and adoption of mindfulness in your workplace.

That could mean anything from paying for employee subscriptions to specialist meditation apps to bringing in external training or e-learning providers. This will underline your commitment to this project and also show employees that you're willing to invest in their development and wellbeing.

5. Be open to practical, everyday changes

Truly embracing mindfulness in your business will involve being open to making changes in your workplace and operational methods that help employees maintain positive habits.

If you want to encourage people to meditate at particular points in the day, for example, you'll need to have designated quiet spaces where they can do it without being disturbed or questioned.

You could also consider implementing mandatory breaks, to discourage the common practice of people working for long periods without stopping to gather their thoughts and decompress.

6. Offer ongoing support

It's not enough simply to provide employees with some general information or isolated training sessions about mindfulness and then expect them to continue their journey without additional help and backing.

There should be consistent support and encouragement for the practice, and this should come from the very top of the business.

If employees see that chief executives and other senior figures are fully on board with the mindfulness mission, they're much more likely to commit and benefit from it themselves.

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