4 Reasons Workplace Mindfulness Programs Fail


     Mindfulness at work continues to be a hot topic. As some of the largest and most successful companies in the world like Google, Salesforce, Nike, and Intel begin providing mindfulness programs to their employees, countless companies are now following suit, hoping to reap the benefits.

Why mindfulness? Scientific studies have shown that a regular mindfulness practice can be a valuable tool for the workplace, helping companies:

  • Reduce healthcare costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Cultivate cooperative teams
  • Improve employee retention

These results are the direct output of the positive change employees experience. With consistent mindfulness meditation shown to alleviate stress, build resilience, boost creativity, and even reduce the effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and depression. 


How Can You Capitalize on the Benefits of Mindfulness for Your Employees?

Investing in mindfulness is a no-brainer, but how do you encourage buy-in and engagement? HR teams often struggle with getting wellness perks to stick, so it should be no surprise that mindfulness offerings may draw an even more reluctant response.

Here are 4 main reasons mindfulness programs tend to fizzle out, along with solutions to ensure your program sticks: 


1. Limited Awareness of Mindfulness

Many people have a loose or limited view of what mindfulness is, and isn't. That’s ok! Some people already practice various mindful habits without realizing it. Simply put, Mindfulness is the purposeful habit of paying attention without judgement. That’s it.


Solution: Define Mindfulness Often  

Providing clear definitions of mindfulness while demonstrating how mindfulness is simple, adaptable, and secular is a great start. Sharing how it can be used for personal and professional development may also help encourage go-getters to spend a few minutes on it.


2. Knowing the Science of Mindfulness

Knowing what mindfulness is is the first step, but understanding why mindfulness works comes next. Many employees are simply not aware of the numerous scientific studies in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and business that have clearly demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness practice, both in individuals and in a variety of high-stress, demanding workplaces.


Solution: Share the Science

When introducing or building your workplace mindfulness program, make sure to share the science from reputable business publications such as a recent article from the Harvard Business Review or Mindful.org.


3. Mindfulness Isn't Part of the Work Routine 

If your company isn’t making it easy or appealing to engage in a regular practice at work, fewer people will take time to do it. While some employees may find themselves too focused on their day-to-day responsibilities to consider spending the time, others may fear that judgement or ridicule will result from taking time away from work to center themselves. How can we expect our team to take time for wellness if they don't feel safe doing so?


Solution: Make Space for Mindfulness

A big first step is to have internal leaders endorse or participate in programs, leading by example to give your team the approval they need to spend time on it too. You could also try a mindfulness challenge to help your company set goals and stay accountable. Like any wellness challenge, participants in mindfulness challenges are more likely to continue habits practice long after the challenge ends.


4. Individual Practice Doesn’t Scale

Humans are inherently tribal creatures. We feel safe in groups, and when our peers engage in an activity, we’re far more likely to get involved. Chances are a handful of employees at your company engage in ongoing, regular mindfulness practice on their own. Widening this circle can help make mindfulness a larger part of company culture.


Solution: Build Community

Holding an open mindfulness session for your colleagues at a certain time of day is a great way to invite new participants and build connection. Or, start smaller by kicking off regular team meetings with a short practice. You could even talk about mindfulness on Slack or other internal channels, sharing personal stories, and inviting others to participate in the discussion. Anything you can do to shift from individual practice to group activities will help enforce the valuable mindful culture you seek to create.


Building Your Mindfulness Community

Whatever you choose to do, remember that every new practitioner and every minute of reflection you encourage is a step in the right direction. Not everyone will engage in a mindfulness practice, but those who do will help make compassion, empathy, and inclusivity more prevalent within your workplace.

At Wisdom Labs, we've developed a suite of products that make it easy to build a scalable mindful community in your workplace. Get in touch with us today to learn more about Wise@Work Communities, our unique flagship offering for companies that goes far beyond traditional tools:

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Scott Murray

Scott Murray, Marketing Manager at Wisdom Labs

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