Back in 2015, researchers in studies on “Mindfulness in Organizations” had already recognized a widespread paradox: Organizations expect their employees to keep up the pace of their work but be creative at the same time. Creativity, they say, is the most important quality to overcome the challenges of the complex and quickly changing professional world of today. But instead of actively supporting and strengthening creativity among employees, it’s taken for granted. A foosball table and a reading corner are usually considered enough to do the job. However, in reality, these spaces are generally ignored and instead, people continue on autopilot, unquestioningly adhering to established methodsto keep from losing time. Room is made for creativity, in the best case, after work. So, the probability of reflecting on problems with creative approaches, exploring new possibilities and testing novel solutions is pretty low – unless maybe a design thinking coach makes a visit. But to really get creative, what employees need more than an coach is the space, practice and support to develop their creativity and give it free rein.
How can creativity in companies be supported?
Companies like Google, Goldman Sachs and Nike are seen as pioneers in this area and have dedicated themselves to enhancing company creativity with meditation and mindfulness. According to a US research team, meditation in a company has a range of positive effects. Regular meditation promotes resilience along with a positive approach to stress and negative emotions. Instead of impulsive, mindless decisions, meditation facilitates working more carefully and more strategically. According to researcher Danny Penman, meditation not only strikingly enhances the ability to think creatively, it also helps people organize and problem-solve more quickly. Meditation furthermore promotes turning off the autopilot and being more open to new concepts and ideas.
Innovation through meditation
To promote the culture of innovation within a company and in teams, studies recommend encouraging meditation and mindfulness for employees. Besides foosball and reading corners, companies do well to also offer spaces for meditation. The good news: It’s not only the company that benefits from meditation, but employees themselves, who experience self-efficacy and a noticeable increase in well-being.
5 Tips for Meditation and Mindfulness in Companies
1. Develop a culture of mindfulness
It’s not enough to add slots for meditation to the training calendar. To ensure that employees participate in the training and take it seriously, the values of meditation have to be connected to the goals of the company. For example, if a company goal is to work on digitalization, it’s important to be able to deal with change. Meditation can be an essential tool for preparing employees. That’s why it’s important for employees to understand these connections and to engage in the meditation.
2. Get management involved early
The advantages of meditation are mostly obvious. But everyday life intrudes, urgent appointments appear and customers can’t wait until tomorrow. Even with the best intentions, many quickly go back to autopilot. This is where management comes in. They should not only be convinced of meditation and practice it themselves, but should also inspire their employees to get their “daily dose of meditation”. To succeed in this l, it’s essential to straightforwardly integrate the training into everyday work.
3. Set up everyday meditation training
Promoting mindfulness only works when training can be integrated in everyday life. Brainstorm with management and employees on what possibilities you have, or bring in experienced outside coaches. For example, one idea could be to schedule the meditation session right after the lunch break or to plan a company-wide session in the afternoon and do combined sessions in the cafeteria. Test out different formats and times – there’s no right or wrong because every company is different.
4. Create moments of mindfulness
Mindfulness means, more than anything, being in the moment. One thing that can help is to have simple routines: reminder emails that are sent once a day with a reminder to “breathe”. Short check-ins at the beginning of a meeting, as in The Holacracy Method, can work wonders – in this case it’s all about getting rid of distractions so that you can completely engage in the meeting. Last but not least, quiet spaces, napping rooms or meditation rooms (that can’t be used for meetings!) are also an effective tool to promote moments of mindfulness. And it should also be mentioned that even naps have been shown to have positive effects on employee efficiency.
5. Give your employees support
Although researchers have been working tirelessly to demonstrate the advantages of meditation and mindfulness at work, they’re often not taken seriously. Maybe it just seems too esoteric. Or it could be the age-old fear of opening up to something different.. With such resistance, it’s all the more important that you bring your employees with you, get them excited about the topic and give them support. Offer them access to webinars and meditation apps, organize talks with expert speakers, provide one-on-one sessions with meditation coaches and encourage your employees again and again to take time for themselves.
More than ever companies rely on creative and thoughtful employees. Meditation and mindfulness can provide momentum and be a key step on the path to “new work”.
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