On 10th February I was privileged to be able to join a panel heralding the launch of the Mindful Workplace Community.
Established by the Mindfulness Initiative, the Charity that emerged from the work of the UK Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness, the MWC is a diverse collection of people dedicated to exploring, developing and facilitating sustainable, high-quality mindfulness training in all types of workplace.
Its aim is to connect professionals and organisations who champion, commission and deliver workplace mindfulness training.
The founder and Honorary President of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness Chris Ruane set the tone for the event. He shared his experience of the impact mindfulness has had in the UK Parliament and offered his ongoing support and that of the APPG, to those who are trying to embed mindfulness in their organisations.
The Mindfulness Initiative Director, Jamie Bristow, set the big picture and made the compelling case that mindfulness in society has a vital role as we face increasingly complex and immediate challenges.
The event was compared by the Mindful Workplace community lead, Andrew McNeill, who shared his own journey and challenges as he discovered mindfulness and decided he wanted to implement mindfulness in the UKs Civil Service.
His passion was contagious and his call that no-one should feel isolated as they tried to implement workplace mindfulness, was very well received.
I represent SAP, a global software company who have a well-established mindfulness programme (The SAP Global Mindfulness Practice) reaching across all continents, with 40+ in-house mindfulness trainers and 11,000 employees who have participated in the ‘Search Inside Yourself’ programme; comprising of Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and the supporting Neuroscience.
I was able to share a little of our journey and some of the extraordinary findings we have gained from some of the data we have gathered over a number of years. In particular I mentioned that we are fortunate enough to have a Chief Mindfulness Officer in Peter Bostelmann, who has been on this journey for eight years. He said about the launch of the MWC:
“The wellbeing of colleagues and their capacity to relate well is increasingly crucial to the success of organisations worldwide. There’s already so much progress and value to share in the world of workplace mindfulness and I look forward to the increased connectivity that the Mindful Workplace Community will facilitate.”
It was lovely to be alongside a very inspirational speaker Mari Lewis who leads Mindfulness at HSBC. Mari has driven the delivery of the HSBC programme and was able to describe the logical, methodical approach HSBC have taken to building their in-house champions. HSBC were also our kind hosts for the event at the heart of London’s Canary Wharf.
What the MWC has to offer
Jamie and Andrew explained that the MWC resources are already available, such as questionnaires and templates that members can use when evaluating or promoting their programmes. These will grow as members share their insights. Case studies are also available and a programme of in-person and on-line events has been planned for 2020 and beyond. Members were invited to guide the development of the programme and the content. This will be a shared endeavour, not a top down hierarchical effort.
The panel session was followed by a rich set of questions from the floor. Covering everything from the future role of the MWC to the value of economic evaluation and diversity. The questions would have gone on for longer if time hadn’t beaten us.
But the last question proved the value of the MWC starting to take form in front of our eyes. Paraphrasing, one member of the audience asked how can we evaluate culture change? Immediately one of the researchers who was in the audience raised their hand and offered their help in achieving that goal.
The atmosphere was a combination of excitement and commitment. Noteworthy and full of humour. I had the opportunity to talk to amazing people on the day – their passion, enthusiasm and dedication for helping others was awe inspiring.
One thing that struck me was the range of sectors represented in the room. In addition to many highly skilled mindfulness training suppliers, there were people representing transport, finance, law, care, media as well as of course, banking and technology sectors.
Next steps for success
I look forward to this global community going from strength to strength and encourage you to join - it’s so good to be connecting the entire Mindfulness ecosystem in the workplace setting. Mindfulness has positively changed my life and continues to, and I want others to have the same opportunity.
For this enterprise to fulfil its potential we – people in the workplace who want to embed mindfulness in our organisations – need to step forward and shape the MWC into what we think will be of value.
We need to share our insights, encourage discussion on the topics we think are relevant and demonstrate our commitment. I have no doubt the team behind the MWC can facilitate its success, but it will need all of us to take this opportunity.
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