Having piloted or rolled out mindfulness training courses, many teams or organizations face the challenge of how best to help their members maintain the positive effects through regular practice and by embedding mindfulness into their processes and behaviors. Here are a few tips at the individual, team and organizational level, which can help make the benefits sustainable and integrate mindfulness within an organization’s ‘DNA’:
At an Individual Level
Understanding Cause and Effect
People are typically becoming more interested in ‘cause and effect’ as it relates to their health and wellbeing. Understanding how the practice of mindfulness may help team members to experience daily challenges in a way that is more conducive to wellbeing can encourage a commitment to regular practice. The exploration of ‘cause and effect’ during training can be further built upon by making evidence-based research papers, books and podcasts (see box below) easily available to employees.34
Teaching Workplace-Specific Mindfulness Practices
Teaching workplace-specific mindfulness practices, such as conducting mindful meetings or emailing more mindfully (see the many tools in the RethinkCare app and especially those for Wellbeing Champions and Team Admins), demonstrates to team members how they may incorporate mindfulness within their working day. This approach supports the maintenance of work-related mindfulness practices (it’s okay to take breaks during the day!) long after the initial training has ceased, while also contributing to the development of a mindfulness-based culture within the team and workplace.
Support Regular Individual or Group Practice
Supporting and encouraging ongoing practice is key to the success of any group looking to create a safe and mindful environment. Offering a range of support options, such as the RethinkCare app, a quiet place to practice, regular drop-in Team sessions, and weekly or monthly encouraging emails sends the message that you are committed both to your plan and the wellbeing of your team members.
Encouraging Team Members to Embed Habits
Some creativity is required to match the tone of communications with your workplace culture. It’s important to at least not be irritating, but visual hints and cues can be very helpful. You may like to help the team remember to be mindful through their working day via visual prompts on walls or desks, such as 3-step step breathing space reminder cards or using the many RethinkCare posters, illustrations, and tips available.
Gaining Acceptance Through Promoting Insight
Holding a ‘question and answer’ session for all those who haven’t yet used the RethinkCare app or attended a mindfulness course provides an opportunity to encourage buy-in and explain how mindfulness can foster team collaboration and improve team performance and working relations.
Anchoring Insights With Practice
Encourage time for individual team members to practice at work. Establishing team mindfulness exercises, either through formal group sessions or by introducing short pauses into regular team meetings, can help employees both bond as a team and sustain/develop their practice.35
Train Team Members to Facilitate Mindfulness Training
Using RethinkCare’s Team Training Guides helps to ensure that mindfulness training can be delivered cost-effectively, at scale and to a consistent standard. It also provides an exciting development opportunity and career path for existing employees; they can follow RethinkCare’s “Facilitator Guide” while learning new skills to help drive the company forward.
At an Organizational Level
Build the Evidence-Base
Building evidence for mindfulness training based on an iterative, data-driven approach, can help ensure the ongoing support of the leadership team and promotes the integration of mindfulness within core organizational processes such as training, leadership development and performance appraisals.
Build a Community and Mindfulness Advocate
Introducing mindfulness advocates with responsibility for arranging activities such as workshops and practice sessions can help keep the mindfulness ‘thread’ running through the organization long term. Ideally, this team of advocates would form a governance structure with a common vision to ensure the continuity of the group and therefore an ongoing focus on mindfulness.
Creating a Mindful Work Environment
Designing workspaces and work processes that minimize unnecessary distractions and interruptions helps promote a sense of mindful attention, flow and productivity. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a costly or time-consuming exercise. For example, you may find it relatively simple to create both quiet and collaborative working zones, and establishing emailing routines or mindful meetings may be easily managed by mindfulness advocates.
Embed Mindfulness in Treatment and Prevention Pathways
Your workplace mindfulness plan can also extend to embedding mindfulness within treatment and prevention pathways. For example, you may like to make EAP clinicians and Occupational Health providers and case managers aware of the benefits of mindfulness training and ask them to refer staff to courses like RethinkCare as a preventative measure to catch team members before they hit a wall.
Incorporate Mindfulness Tools in “Back to Work” Discussions
Employees returning from a sabbatical, parental leave or sickness absence may be unfamiliar with the organization’s plan for bringing mindfulness into the workplace and indeed may know little about mindfulness itself. Incorporating information about the mindfulness implementation plan, including details related to overall intention and training opportunities for employees, will help the returning employee to feel included and to make a smooth transition back to the workplace. It may be necessary to offer training to members of the HR department and line managers to enable them to feel confident in their knowledge about mindfulness and the organization’s vision.
Build Mindful Awareness Into Planning and Decision-Making Processes
Mindfulness practices, such as non-judgmentally assessing different plausible scenarios and visualizing positive outcomes, can be incorporated into strategic planning and goal-setting processes to generate new ideas and identify assumptions that limit growth. Non-judgemental attention can also be incorporated into performance reviews, interviews and other decision-making processes to ensure actions are guided through clear intention and a mindful, curious attitude. This helps identify where biases lead to subjective decision-making and sub-optimal outcomes.
Establish the Ecosystem
This approach creates mindfulness touchpoints along the employee lifecycle by anchoring mindfulness practices in recruitment, onboarding of new employees, leadership and line manager training, coaching and mentoring, performance appraisals, back-to-work interviews, promotions, low performer processes, line manager standards and exit interviews. This will normally involve building an in-house trainer pool and public championing of mindfulness by senior people.36
No matter where you are on your team or company journey to create a culture of wellbeing, mindfulness and sustainable performance, this checklist can be revisited as a touchstone for enabling both individual team members as well as executive management. Creating a positive culture takes time, commitment and measurement – and it’s worth it!
About the Author: This excerpt was edited and reprinted with the permission of our friends at The Mindfulness Initiative. To learn more about their work, please visit www.themindfulnessinitiative.org. View original article.
34 Higgins, J., Reitz, M., and Williams, C. (2013). Is leadership changing? 360°. The Ashridge Journal, Winter, 37 – 38.
35 Reb, J., Narayanan, J. and Chaturvedi, S. 2012. Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012
36 Chaskalson, M. (2014). Mindfulness in eight weeks. London: Harper Thorsons.