Creating a Mindful Workplace
For the past three years, I have helped companies implement mindful work practices. Our process and lessons may be helpful to your business.
As of 2018, nearly 70% of Fortune 500 companies are offering some type of mindfulness programming. The businesses I have worked with include call centers, sales development teams, marketing and ad agencies, system programmers, industrial site workers, and caregivers.
What is clear to me is that creating a mindful workplace is relatively simple and highly effective in connecting people with themselves, each other, and their companies.
At one company, a supervisor received thank you notes from her team for the first time, after just one week of starting her one-on-one meetings with mindful questions and unplugged time. They thanked her for caring about them as human beings. She had always cared and had never been given the tools to practice engaging leadership.
Most business owners and managers tell me they are interested in creating positive work experiences, yet concerned about how much time it will take.
Working mindfully does not take additional time. While there is a commitment to communicate and make changes, rather than adding time to your day, we repurpose time. Workshops and introductory sessions were scheduled within meetings that were already on the calendar.
For more information on the research that has influenced my work, click HERE.
If you are interested in learning more about the steps that are working for us, see below.
Steps to Creating a Mindful Workplace
- Leadership Engagement
The most important step. Whether you are leading yourself, a team or a company, compassionate and visible leadership each day is the key to short and long-term success.
- Vision, Communications, and Engaging Others
Create and communicate your vision, and bring others along in their own way. Be authentic and begin with your story. How did you hear about mindfulness or resiliency practices? Why do you think it could apply to your team or company? Share an article or stories that have inspired you. Get the conversation started. People have been amazed at the level of energy these conversations stimulate. Some employees felt they were being noticed and listened to for the first time.
- Identify Natural Pauses in Your Work
The biggest challenge to trying something new is where to fit it in. Two minutes is all it takes to begin. Look at natural places in your work day, where you start and stop and begin there. Between emails, driving to an appointment, before a meeting begins, on the way to a bio break, after a phone call, etc; all are great places to start. Most people can see themselves trying something for 2 minutes.
- Select Tools for Practice
There are many tools available to support your practice as an individual, team, or company. Your health plan or Employee Assistance Program at work have videos on their webpage. You can Google 2 to 5-minute meditations, stretches, or deep breathing exercises and there are dozens of videos or audios to choose from. I partner with Radiant Beginnings for beautiful video content which is a Press Play curriculum with 1 to 5-minute modules.
There are also excellent apps to support your practice. Some are geared to individuals (Headspace, Omvana, Stop, Breathe, and Think) and others designed for employers who want to track activity and measure results (Whil).
- Appoint/Hire Ambassadors for Rollout
If you are an individual, find another person or two to check in with on daily or weekly basis; inspire each other to keep practicing.
For a team or a company, using wellness ambassadors is an excellent way to encourage and model new practices. Engage them from the beginning as part of your communication strategy. You can also hire professionals short term to help you with all of these steps. If you avoid a single turnover or reduce unplanned absences (which is likely in just a few weeks), you will have more than paid for the investment.
- Determine Metrics for Success – What Matters to You?
What are you tracking today? Employee satisfaction or engagement, turnover rates, unplanned absences, healthcare costs, work quality metrics? All of these are measurable, what matters is what’s important to you. Mindful work leads to improvement in each of these metrics and more.
Make sure your communication is consistent. Develop a schedule and plan for the month, each quarter, and the year. There are many tools available to support automation.
- Practice, Check-In, Celebrate Success
Develop ways to practice together based on your environment. Begin the day with deep breathing, then mid-morning stretches, or after-lunch games. You can also kick off your meetings with an unplugged activity. The possibilities are endless.
Check in with your teams to gain feedback on what is working and what isn’t and adjust your plan. You can use Survey Monkey or built-in tools through automated email software.
Celebrate your success together as you achieve milestones such as completing the first week, 10 activities in a row to start meetings, first employee breakthrough (improved work). In my last job, two people from separate teams went for a 15-minute walking meeting and happened to solve a system issue we had been working on for weeks via conference calls with a dozen people. Celebrate those moments!
- Measure and Communicate Improvement
This is important for motivation at all levels. Make sure to communicate when you achieve progress on the things you choose to measure in #6. This will keep both leadership and everyone else engaged and excited to continue.
Mindful pauses in the workday addresses rising workload stress levels and overuse of technology in the workplace. The World Health Organization calls stress the #1 Health Epidemic of the 21st Ccentury.
We have the tools to be better, together.