You’ll see plenty of articles about selecting the meditation teacher, but what about when it comes to bringing an organization in to implement a workplace program? The workplace mindfulness field is growing— with many organizations now working as mindfulness consultants, partnering with businesses to bring mindfulness trainings and programming, and for good reason: studies show that bringing mindfulness into the workplace can help in a variety of ways including, improving employee stress, focus, and productivity, and decreasing employee health days and sickness. (Suggested Read: “How Does a Mindfulness Program Support Employee Well-Being?”) But with many mindfulness programs to choose from, how can you tell which is be best for your business?
Here are five tips for selecting a mindfulness partner that’s right for you:
1. Check the credibility.
With so many mindfulness programs how can you decide who is credible and what credible even means in this field? A good place to start is by looking at the head of the organization— what training and experience do they have with mindfulness or meditation? Mindfulness programming is a relatively new field, which means there aren’t really standards for what makes a great program, so what you’re really looking for is one that’s right for you and your business. (Suggested Read: “How to Decide on the Best Implementation Strategy for Your Workplace Mindfulness Initiative”.
2. Look up their clientele.
You are also looking for a program that will match your needs and work with your company culture. A good way to tell if the program will work in your business is to check out their past clientele and see if they have clients with business structures or cultures similar to yours.
3. Note the secularity of the organization.
You might also note whether it is a secular organization. Meditation has existed in many cultures and traditions throughout time, but the modern, Western movement was originally derived from Buddhist practices and ideals. That movement has evolved, and pulled some of the practices, such as mindfulness, out of this context to use for entirely secular purposes. This evolution was (and still is) complicated, and not all programs that teach mindfulness do so with an entirely secular lens. It is important to look carefully at the program you are selecting in terms of how much they do or do not bring Buddhist religion into their teaching, and whether that is appropriate for your organization.
*Note: Just because a program acknowledges the context, background, and evolution of modern mindfulness, does not mean that they teach to Buddhist (or other religious) ideals. Many good, secular programs acknowledge this background as a means of respecting where the ideas originated.
4. Check the time to promise ratio
Does the program advertise making your staff and your workplace more mindful in just 30 minutes? Do they promise you all the benefits of the scientific studies of mindfulness (which were looked at in standardized, 8-week long courses) in just one class? Take note of all that they promise versus the time they will be teaching. Mindfulness is a practice. It is a skill and habit that requires time cultivate. You may be able to teach a person how to do a meditation sit in 10 minutes, but you can’t build a habit and change a workplace culture in that time. Be wary of programs that promise more than their time would allow them to give.
5. Get face time with the teachers
Cheesy as it may sound, there are teachers that teach mindfulness, and there are teachers that live mindfulness, and you will be able to tell the difference. Good teachers have a sincerity that reveals their credibility right off the bat; they will make you feel comfortable and guide you through the practices in a way that is appropriate for the audience at hand. One of the best ways to tell whether you will like a program is to watch the teacher. If you had trouble judging any of the criteria listed above, watching the teacher (maybe through a lunch and learn session) or even talking with them, will help you to decide if their program is right for your company.