A Mindful Approach to Learning & Development

‘Overloaded, stressed employees hurt your bottom line’ calls out Harvard Business Review special issue on The Ideal Workplace. The pursuit of happiness may seem like a lofty goal at a time when merely surviving feels like a triumph. But that’s exactly when we should strive to make our workplaces healthier, happier, and more productive.

More than ever, there is this social awareness and desire to create goodness and share it with others. Another notable trend is to see corporate leaders & public servers talk more about becoming socially responsible by creating environments for social well-being (mental, emotional & physical). Neuroscience has created a bridge for us to understand how fostering mental stillness promotes happiness, which further promotes focus and productivity at work, personal & social lives.

As organization effectiveness and change enabling consultant, and a yoga teacher, I always feel aspired to instill mindfulness in my environment. I got so enthused listening to a panel discussion on Mindful Approach to Learning & Development: Addressing the Whole Person by a group of ‘people-enablers’ from companies like Zenga, Facebook, Twitter & Google, at the Wisdom 2.0 summit. This event was hosted in Silicon Valley last month, bringing together technology leaders, social workers, Zen masters & neuroscientists to talk about how to bring well-being in the technology-rich culture.

Here are some encouraging trends & thought leadership on inducing Mindfulness and measuring Awesomeness at work …

The CTO of Twitter often asks the interviewees, ‘How happy are you?’ Employing ‘happy’ people is important to Twitter. The company uses ‘Happiness Survey’ to measure workforce efficiency. ‘When engineers get out of their head and get into their body, they do the best coding’, shares the L&D head. Sensory experience helps. Mindfulness helps.

Facebook uses ‘Awesomeness Index’ to measure success by asking their people mainly two things – ‘how much pride do I have in what we are doing in our team?’ & ‘would I bring my very best friend here?’ To keep a good check on employee satisfaction, the company measures Fulfillment instead of Engagement. ‘Engineers are deliciously curious individuals. As we provide some fundamentals and scientific data about how brain operates and how mindfulness helps, our engineers make the most of the experience’ shares L&D head of Facebook.

Zenga designs workshops along the lines of mindfulness principles, to facilitate dialogue between engineers and creatives. They teach techniques to their engineers to have better enquiry skills and to teach their creative workforce to deepen understanding of how engineers operate.

Google looks for ‘composure’ in their candidates. It’s indirectly related to mindfulness. A sense of curiosity, passion around changing the world that adds towards the qualities of mindfulness person. In return Google provides a physical environment to reinforce these desired behaviors by providing ‘calming spaces’ and mindfulness classes.

What people need the most is happiness. Organizations can be a healthy container for people to grow into their best selves by preserving a creative and energized culture. There is benefit in staying deeply attuned to seeing organization as organism and figuring out what capabilities it needs in that moment. Hence, the role of Organization Effectiveness is shifting much.

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