A calmer mind is a more productive one. Growing research continues to show how meditation can increase productivity, improve work relationships, and create stronger team dynamics. It can also help people become better leaders and make more skillful decisions.
I have seen more and more companies beginning to introduce meditation and mindfulness programs in the workplace, but the question is how can they ensure their success? Just like any new business initiative, if you invest money into a program, you hope for results that will positively impact the business. From interviews with leaders in this field who I met at Wisdom 2.0, finding ways to measure these outcomes becomes even more important in order to continue investing in them.
Here are three tips to help your company begin and maintain a meditation program from people who have launched them in their own businesses.
1. Begin small and get feedback.
You never launch something new without testing it out. The same rule applies to a meditation program, says Peter Bostelmann, founder and director of software company SAP's global mindfulness practice.
He suggests to begin with a single suitable meditation workshop, have employees try it for a while, and then get feedback. Model the responses like an employee survey that not only asks questions about what people liked and didn't, but also gauges value and encourages constructive feedback.
For example, the survey could address topics like whether they liked the workshop's format, the group size, time of day, and setting. "Once you have gathered the information, you can make adjustments and then launch a full-scale meditation program that can encourage regular participation and has a much greater chance of success," says Bostelmann.
When I offer programs like this, I begin on a volunteer basis. I send an email that says I am teaching a meditation session at lunch and see who is interested. If people respond to it, and share how it helped them during the workday, it can grow to a weekly session and then eventually a formal program.
2. Create the right space.
Try to set up comfortable and supporting spaces for meditation. This can help those who are insecure about meditating or do not want to share their practice with others.
"Creating space is similar to a well-equipped gym that is designed to encourage and support people to exercise," says Scott Shute, senior director of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn. "It's the same with meditation. You need a physical space that supports the practice."
You can schedule a large space for group meditations or devote a quiet room where people can practice alone. Beyond space, time can be a big factor in creating a practice. In addition to scheduling meditation sessions, create pockets of time for people to catch their breath and regroup.
"For instance, we schedule meetings to end at 25 or 55 past the hour. Then we actually have a bit of mental space and we're not just rushing from meeting to meeting," says Shute. "We can use that five minutes to get ready for our next meeting, maybe even take a minute to get centered."
Practices like these help my team be more present and not feel stressed during meetings because they know there is time to take care of personal matters afterwards.
Make it okay for your employees to take the time they need for their mental health just like you would for their physical health. "It will definitely pay off in terms of employee engagement and results," says Shute. Giving people opportunities to meditate can encourage them to create a regular practice, and demonstrates that the business wants them to succeed.
3. Incorporate meditation into your daily business.
If I only meditate when it suits me, and not make it a regular practice, it can be less effective. Our businesses can help with this by making meditation a part of the office culture so it's acceptable to take breaks to renew our energy.
One way is to bring in meditation teachers to lead weekly classes or workshops," suggests Tamara Levitt, Head of Mindfulness at Calm, the meditation app named Apple's App of the Year in 2017. "Another approach is to have your team start the day with a group meditation through a meditation app," says Levitt. "Even a 10-minute session can support people to be more mindful during conversations, less reactive to stress, and feel calmer through the day."
Introducing an office mindfulness and meditation practice can help your business have healthier and happier staff, as well as improve employee retention. As with any new business initiative, taking the proper steps can ensure its success. Yet, when you incorporate mindfulness into t your workplace, you may find that taking regular mental breaks makes everyone more productive in the end.