If it hasn’t already, the mindfulness training trend may be coming to your office soon.
Workplace mindfulness training programs can help workers manage stress and improve memory and focus. Training can be delivered in a number of ways including in-person and online, and according to a 2016 study by the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, 22 percent of companies have mindfulness training programs. Furthermore, 21 percent of them are considering adding one in 2017.
“Companies want to improve productivity and performance,” mindfulness company Whil Concepts Inc. Founder and CEO Joe Burton told ebn. “They also want to lower healthcare costs and absenteeism.”
Great as that sounds, leadership development expert David Brendel wrote in the Harvard Business Review that companies should proceed with caution as they consider mindfulness training for themselves. Having recommended mindfulness approaches to clients to enhance their leadership capacity, for instance, Brendel wrote that his enthusiasm for it was tempered with concern about its excesses. The runaway following around mindfulness is increasingly crowding out other models and strategies that are important to address the things mindfulness is reported to do.
“At times, it appears that we are witnessing the development of a ‘cult of mindfulness’ that, if not appropriately recognized and moderated, may result in an unfortunate backlash against it,” Brendel wrote.
Brendel wrote that avoidance risk is a possibility if mindfulness training isn’t handled properly, as is the risk of groupthink. Some people have used mindfulness strategies to avoid looking rationally at work challenges. In other cases, Brendel wrote that people made the training too regimented, too guided, or it was required, which induces stress and bad feelings rather than alleviating them. Instead, mindfulness practices need to be presented as one of many options people can choose to help them cope with stress, think effectively, make sound decisions and achieve fulfillment.
Burton said companies that are seriously thinking about mindfulness programming should keep in mind that the training should be nonspiritual, nonreligious as well as delivered by an expert with appropriate credentials who has spent time working inside corporations.
Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.