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Workplace Mindfulness Initiatives – why the words you use matter


You only have to look at yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s headlines across different media outlets to see the impact introductory headlines have on us as individuals; whether we choose to read further and, if so, what our attitude is on entering the main body of text – is our mindset open or closed to what we will read?

The same is true when the words ’mindfulness initiatives’ are raised in the workplace.  The reactions may vary from those who dismiss them out of hand as ‘hippy nonsense’ to those who already practise mindfulness daily and are keen to share their experience of the benefits they have discovered.  Probably the most famous example of this happened at the company whose services many of us use daily, Google.

One of their early employees, an engineer called Chade-Meng Tan had tried to launch meditation courses for employees.  The take up was low in the fast-paced and intense working environment the company was known for.  It wasn’t until 2007 when he and Stanford University neuroscientist and author, Daniel Goldman developed the “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY) programme, that attentions were caught and SIY became so popular amongst employees that it was regularly oversubscribed and the most popular of the mindfulness courses Google offers its workforce.

Meng’s aim was to reach those who dismissed mindfulness as not for them, or to put it another way, those who were not prepared to read past the headline.  The successful hook of the SIY programme seemed to be that attendance would provide an individualised route to emotional intelligence (EQ) with benefits including an increase in mental focus, boosted resilience and help to understand their co-workers’ motivations.

So by adapting the course title and content to put an emphasis on EQ and personal effectiveness, it was seen as relevant in an organisational context.  Employees realised they could stand out in their high IQ environment by increasing their EQ .  Feedback suggests that the benefits to the individual are also felt by their families, their colleagues and the company.

The message we’d like to spread is that workplace mindfulness initiatives have much to offer both employees and organisations; they can develop awareness, focus and productivity, increase personal resilience, and improve individual wellbeing.  However, the approach taken, course title and description need careful consideration to fit well with your organisation’s business goals and culture.  In a workplace context, the self-help connotations of the word mindfulness on its own, may not be immediately appealing.

At In Equilibrium our mindfulness trainers are all experienced practitioners and skilled instructors which is vital to ensure they can help delegates overcome any challenges which may occur during training.  We offer bite-size sessions, a one-day course and a 16-hour training programme and are happy to tailor training to your organisational context.

View our training courses in this area here
View our Mindfulness resources page here 

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