In September 2014, Mindfulness teachers and researchers met with members of the business community to explore the evidence base for mindfulness in the workplace. The 2014 Mindfulness at work conference event was a collaboration between Juliet Adams (founder of Mindfulnet.org) and Dr Jutta Tobias (Cranfield University School of Management).
Research into mindfulness has increased exponentially in the last five years, as has media interest. Most research has focussed on the impact of mindfulness training developed for an 'unhealthy' population as a form of therapy - for example for those suffering from stress or depression.
By June 2016 around 100 research studies specifically exploring the use of mindfulness in the workplace had been published. These studies demonstrate that mindfulness can be very effective in addressing a number of major challenges that businesses are facing; such as presenteeism, lack of focus and attention, and coping with ever more complex work demands. As a result many organisations are now offering their staff mindfulness training, and many executive education programmes now include mindfulness.
In response to increasing demands to teach mindfulness to a 'well' population, mindfulness teachers have been forced to reconsider how best to teach mindfulness in order to meet the demands of the modern workplace. Various mindfulness at work 'best practice' is starting to emerge but this is not always shared or disseminated. What is needed going forward is a mindfulness teaching model developed specifically for the workplace.
A key conference aim was to gather and share the latest evidence on how mindfulness could assist in the workplace in areas such as decision making, productivity, attention, and well-being. In the opening keynote of the conference, Dr Tobias and Dr David Denyer outlined the theory of 'Evidence based management'. They explained that evidence based decision making takes into account a number of different perspectives, which collectively form the 'evidence base'.
Applying this model to mindfulness at work, they explored the evidence for mindfulness at work through four lenses:
1: Scientifically evaluated research - randomised control trials and peer reviewed research papers
2: Practitioner experience - the experience and knowledge of mindfulness teachers and those working with mindfulness, including policy makers
3: Organisational perspectives - gathered from employees who attend mindfulness training and apply it to their work, and leaders looking at the impact of mindfulness on the organisation departmentally or as a whole.
4: Policy and stakeholders perspectives - gathered from forums such as the UK All Party Parlimentary Group (APPG) on Mindfulness and best practice guidelines.
The conference' key message was the importance of practitioners, researchers, and individual employees working together to share information that will in time form a robust evidence base for mindfulness at work.
If you would like to contribute to these pages please contact Juliet Adams by emailing Juliet@mindfulnet.org.