2013 was rather a momentous year for Mindfulness.

And that wasn’t bad for something that had already been around for over 2,500 years.

In February 2013, more than 40 of the world’s most influential people were crammed into a room at the Davos Economic Summit in Switzerland, to practice Mindfulness.

By the end of 2013, 50 UK MPs and Peers were taking part in weekly Mindfulness sessions, held in the august environs of the Houses of Parliament.

And I first wrote a piece in that year asking, ‘Are You Mindfull or Mindful?’ for a now defunct social media platform — And that of course, remains a question that for many is still out there to be answered.

In between all this however, a mind shift across the business world started to take root, as a number of organisations began to look at and take Mindfulness very seriously.

What Changed?

Research had begun to show not only the significant benefits of Mindfulness in the workplace, but also demonstrate that these were more far reaching than simply improving well being across the workplace.

Significant improvements were also being measured in productivity, relationships and employee engagement, whilst creativity and the capacity to deal with demanding workloads were also found to be net beneficiaries.

Great News

Which was great news for businesses across all sectors, given the number of people working excessive hours in the UK alone had risen by 15% since 2010.

Put another way, a total of 3.417 million people since 2010 were working really long hours, up by 453,000 over the previous 5 years — And those figures did not include the self-employed!

Perhaps then it’s not surprising that lost productivity resulting from stress related absences in the workplace has become and remains a very real and pressing problem not just for the UK economy but also the global economy as well.

In the UK current losses are running at £23 billion per annum alone. Whilst the number of working days lost each year as a direct consequence total some 105 million, costing UK employers around £1.24 billion annually.

And perhaps it’s not surprising that conflict in the workplace is on the rise too, with one study conducted across Europe, the U.S. and Brazil, suggesting that 85% of employees at all levels experience some degree of conflict in the workplace.

So, The 7 Whys

  • Improved productivity through improved cognitive flexibility, concentration and creativity
  • Enhanced client and employer/employee relations
  • Increased staff retention through employee job satisfaction and employee engagement
  • Employees with a greater capacity to be tolerant and exercise forbearance in the workplace
  • Greater resilience generally across the workforce, with employees better equipped to cope with demanding workloads and deadlines
  • Reductions in levels of measurable stress across the workforce; & concomitant
  • Cost savings through decreases in absenteeism for stress related illnesses

And The 7 Ways

  • Be clear about the Why: What’s the purpose for introducing Mindfulness into the organisation and which part of the business’s strategy will drive it — Is it just a well being initiative, or part of a wider culture shift that will prefigure a new leadership style and a different way of working — Also from the outset be very clear about the general benefits, and how in particular your organisation will benefit
  • Lead it from the Top: Don’t just have the endorsement of senior managers in the organisation, but ensure that they understand what’s going to happen and are prepared to own it, talk about it and take questions on it — Also make sure they play a physical part too
  • Run some Taster Sessions: Make it so all staff can see, feel, taste and touch it — Make it meaningful, tangible, real — Mindfulness isn’t for everyone and the most successful programmes introduced into the workplace are where employees opt-in — Chapter’s 5 & 6 of my book give more advice on this and it is imperative that a suitably experienced and skilled practioner is used to facilitate these sessions
  • Recruit internal Champions: Their role is to be visible during the introductory phase, promote the training and encourage colleagues to attend, and host and support regular Mindfulness sessions once the period of formal training has concluded
  • Accept there is no Quick Fix: Scheduling and delivery of the formal training needs to be flexible and as a general steer, an atypical programme will usually last 12 weeks and last around 90 minutes per session — These should also be augmented with encouragement to introduce some simple Mindfulness working practices into the daily working routine, such as these Top 6 Tips
  • Build a Critical Mass: Put simply you don’t need the buy-in from 100% of your organisation, or 80%, 60%, 40%, or even 20% — Check out this great YouTube clip by Simon Sinek which puts into perspective how you can maximise leverage and bring those glittering prices readily into reach; & remember
  • The Outcome Defines the Title: The 18th century German Philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friederich Hegel famously said this, and put quite simply for the purposes of this piece I’m saying that you need to set the outcomes your organisation wants and needs from introducing Mindfulness right from the get-go — before you start — and make sure these are Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic & Time-bound

I rather hope I’m preaching to the converted, but if not you can find out even more about why and how to make your case to introduce Mindfulness into your workplace here.

Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at [email protected] and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd