Why Corporate Mindfulness Programs Fail
Most Mindfulness Meditation programs in corporations are doomed to fail. This may come as a surprise to you. However. they fail due to very specific reasons and the failure can be gauged on a scale from partial to complete failure. In this article, we will outline the reasons why these programs fail, how to avoid failure, and also provide useful information to HR managers that are given the task of starting a Mindfulness Meditation program in their company.
HR managers are typically entrusted with the task of finding and hiring a company or person to lead their employees in Mindfulness Meditation classes and programs. Unfortunately, most HR managers are not trained in how to evaluate Mindfulness Meditation teachers, companies, and programs. Still, they must do their best to not only evaluate who they think will be best to provide the class/program, but they must also make the decisions regarding the length of the classes, the number of classes, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
There are six mistakes that many organizations make when seeking to bring Mindfulness Meditation programs to their company. These include:
- Choosing the Wrong Mindfulness Meditation Instructor
- Choosing the Wrong Amount of Time for the Sessions
- Choosing the Wrong Number of Sessions
- Choosing The Wrong Time of Day
- Not Fully Understanding The Goal of a Mindfulness Meditation Program
- Making the Program Cost The Primary Determining factor
Choosing the Wrong Mindfulness Meditation Instructor
After deciding that you want to hire a company or instructor to lead the Mindfulness Meditation program for your organization, you will need to find an instructor. There are two choices. You will either hire a company or an instructor who specializes in Mindfulness Meditation for companies. The last part of the previous statement is very important.
There are literally thousands of Mindfulness Meditation instructors. A basic search in Google will yield a ton of results. However, instructors that lead classes in their community are very different from instructors that specialize in leading classes for corporations. The instructor that has primarily led classes locally is not trained in how to professionally lead employees. They are not familiar with the challenges that employees face or they have little to no experience leading employees on topics that are of great value to employees.
The mistake that many companies make is that when they start their search, they do not understand that there is a big difference between instructors who specialize in leading Mindfulness Meditation sessions for companies and instructors who lead sessions in their community. And even though most instructors have led a few classes for employees, they do not possess the experience and skills to lead corporate Mindfulness Meditation programs.
This mistake leads to HR managers making hiring decisions that are primarily financially based. In other words, they tend to hire the least expensive instructor. As a general guide, Mindfulness Meditation instructors that teach in their community may charge anywhere from as little as $50 to $100 per class. Instructors that specialize in Mindfulness Meditation programs for corporations typically charge approximately 3-4 times this amount.
Is paying the higher fee warranted? The instructor that has been leading people in their community in Mindfulness Meditation sessions is not familiar with the challenges that employees face. They do not possess the experience to lead sessions where they guide employees in overcoming the challenges that they face in the business world. Will they provide a very relaxing experience? The answer is “yes”. Will they provide meaningful meditations that address the challenges that employees face in the business world? The answer is probably not.
How to Choose a Mindfulness Meditation Instructor
- Make sure that your instructor has no less than two years of experience leading Mindfulness Meditation sessions in corporations. Check their references!
- Make sure that your instructor is certified. May companies claim that they provide certified teachers. But when checked, there may only be one certified teacher and the remainder of the instructors are not certified. It’s like hiring a “licensed contractor” who shows up for the first day and then sends his unlicensed apprentice contractors to complete the job.
- Request an outline of topics/themes that will be covered in the sessions.
- Sample one of the instructor’s sessions. It is essential that you attend at least one session with employees and then survey the employees after the session. Some companies do not want to spend the money to sample a session. However, without attending a live session, there is no way to know whether you have hired the right instructor.
Choosing the Wrong Amount of Time for the Sessions
Most Mindfulness Meditation programs consist of multiple 15, 30, 45 or 60-minute sessions. Thirty-minute sessions are the most popular with fifteen-minute sessions being the second most popular. Why do some HR managers choose fifteen-minute sessions while others choose thirty-minute sessions and why would one be the wrong choice? Let’s first understand why an HR manager might choose one over the other.
There are two prevailing reasons why HR managers choose fifteen-minute sessions. First, they are the least expensive session to choose from. Programs consisting of fifteen-minute sessions will cost less than programs consisting of 30, 45, and 60-minute sessions. Second, HR managers want to limit the amount of time that employees devote to activities outside of the work that employees are supposed to do.
A Mindfulness Meditation program consisting of fifteen-minute sessions can be very effective. However, it’s important for HR managers to understand the following. Employees have a tendency to show up late to the start of Meditation sessions. Also, it takes most people approximately 5-10 minutes to settle down before they can start to connect with the guidance of a meditation. When employees lose 5+ minutes of a 15-minute session, it’s difficult for employees to achieve any of the true benefits of Meditation.
Still, fifteen-minute sessions can be effective. If you decide to only offer once per month or once per week fifteen-minute sessions, employees will need additional support to fully benefit from these sessions. They should be encouraged to meditate in their private time and should utilize some form of recorded audio meditations to support their private practice. Keep in mind that 15-minute sessions must be done on a regular basis. Employees must get to the sessions on time, and they must have experience with Meditation so that they can fully utilize these shorter sessions.
How to Choose The Class Length and Number of Classes
One of the biggest mistakes HR managers make is setting the class length and number of classes. In at least 90% of the inquiries that we receive from corporations, HR managers tell us how many classes they want and how long they want the classes to be. How they determine this is still somewhat of a mystery. However, we do know that the cost of the classes is sometimes the determining factor.
There are issues with HR managers determining the class length and number of classes. The biggest of these issues is that HR managers do not understand how Mindfulness Meditation works. They do not understand that in order for a Mindfulness Meditation program to have maximum effectiveness, employees need to attend classes on a regular basis. The ideal schedule is a once-per-day class. The class length can be 15 or 30-minutes.
The mistake that many HR managers make is that they want to create a program that consists of once per week or once per month classes. This means that employees are potentially going either 6 or approximately 30 days between classes.
Choosing the Wrong Number of Sessions
How many sessions make for a successful Mindfulness Meditation Program? Many HR managers believe that sessions conducted once per month or once per week are sufficient. The truth is that they simply don’t know how many sessions are required for a successful program. The number of sessions they choose is ultimately based on the HR Manager’s budget or the amount of money that they are willing to spend. So how do you know how many sessions are required to make a successful program?
Let’s first look at what will most likely doom a program. If a program consists of once per month or twice per month sessions, the program will most likely fail. Why is this? To understand the reason, we need to understand how Mindfulness Meditation works and what the intentions are.
In order to fully benefit from Mindfulness Meditation, it must be practiced daily. It can be practiced for as little as five minutes per day and somewhere between 10-20 minutes per day is ideal. The amount of time is not the primary factor. Practicing daily is the key to success. When we practice daily, we acquire the benefits which include being calmer, removing stress and anxiety, sleeping better, being more present, being more focused, and so much more.
Acquiring the benefits through a daily meditation practice is similar to the benefits we achieve through other daily practices. For example, if you want to get your body into good shape, you could go to the gym once per week or once per month. However, you would achieve limited beneficial results. However, if you went to the gym daily, you stand a far greater opportunity to bring your body into excellent conditioning.
So what is the right number of sessions to choose to make a successful program?
The ideal number of sessions for a program is once per day. However, this is not possible for some companies due to financial limitations. Here are recommendations based on the successes we have seen in companies:
- Three sessions per week. These can be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday sessions, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday sessions, or any variation of these.
- Two sessions per week: It is important for these two sessions to be well-placed apart from each other. A Monday and Wednesday schedule will produce positive results.
- One session per week: If you choose this option, it is essential to offer some support mechanism. One way to supplement a once per week session is you reserve a time each day when employees are asked to “pause” and take time for a Mindfulness practice. As Meditation House provides access to a library of audio meditations, employees can utilize one of our meditations during the days when a Live session is not taking place.
Choosing The Wrong Time of Day
When HR managers are given the task to implement a Mindfulness Meditation program, they will need to decide which time of day would be best for the sessions. This is where most HR managers make a critical mistake. Many will somewhat arbitrarily choose a time of time. When this happens, and attendance for the sessions is low, they do not make the connection between the wrong time of day and attendance. They look for other reasons including lack of interest or the possibility that they chose the wrong instructor.
Some HR managers will designate a time during employees’ lunch breaks. We understand that a corporation’s time is valuable and some companies do not want to “sacrifice” time to dedicate to Mindfulness Meditation sessions. However, we have learned the following. If you tell an employee that you are offering Mindfulness Meditation sessions during their lunch break, and it is optional to attend, nine out of ten employees will not attend the sessions. Why? They see their lunch break as their “personal” time and they want or need to do other things during this time.
These are the mistakes to avoid when choosing a time of day for your Mindfulness Meditation Sessions:
- Do not choose a time either right before or during employees’ lunch break.
- Do not choose a time at the end of the work day. Employees want to end their work day and go home or do things outside of work. It is difficult for a person to meditate when they are focused on what they will be doing after work.
- Do not choose a time that is around or at times that are typically devoted to meetings.
- Try to avoid mid-afternoon times. Most people have mid-afternoon energy slumps and cannot be fully present for sessions conducted in the mid-afternoon.
So what are the best times of day for Mindfulness Meditation sessions?
- 8:30-9:30 am
- 10:30-11:30 am
- 1:00-2:00 pm
- 7:00-8:00 pm
In our experience, most employees like morning meditations. They find it very beneficial as it sets a “tone” for the day. There are a number of meditations that Meditation House offers where we set intentions (goals) for the day and week. This allows employees to see themselves preparing for the events of the day/week, seeing the tasks they need to do, seeing the obstacles to avoid, and then seeing themselves accomplishing those tasks. These are highly effective meditations.
Ultimately, the “best” time for a company to offer Mindfulness Meditation sessions can only be determined through analysis. We recommend sending out a survey to employees. The survey will allow employees to identify the best times (and days) for Mindfulness Meditation sessions. Once the survey results are analyzed, you will be able to make a logical choice for what should be the best time of day for your sessions.
Not Fully Understanding The Goal of a Mindfulness Meditation Program
For a Mindfulness Meditation program to be effective, there must be a clear understanding of the goal(s) of the program and the belief that the program can succeed. Without these, a program cannot be successful. If you have been tasked with bringing a Mindfulness Meditation program to your organization, you should understand the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation and how they can help your organization.
We have an excellent article entitled “What are the benefits of corporate mindfulness programs” that we recommend you read. However, let’s briefly review the goals of Mindfulness Meditation programs in companies:
- Reduce Stress: Reducing stress is the number one reason to implement a Mindfulness Meditation program in a company.
- Reduce and Eliminate Anxiety: Anxiety has been dramatically on the rise in companies, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Increase Productivity: Mindfulness Meditation programs increase productivity by changing the mindset of employees. A stress-free, well-rested, healthy, and happy employee is a good producer.
- Creating Happy Employees: Mindfulness Meditation programs make for happier employees, They feel more secure in their jobs, they feel that their work is appreciated, they look forward to their work, and they create better relationships with their fellow employees and managers.
Making the Program Cost The Primary Determining Factor
It could be argued that making the cost of the Mindfulness Meditation program the primary determining factor is the number one reason why these programs fail. If the person responsible for bringing a Mindfulness Meditation program to an organization is not well-versed in the issues that we have outlined above, then they will most likely use “cost” as their primary determining factor when hiring a person or company to lead their company.
As we mentioned previously, there is no shortage of Meditation teachers available to lead a program. However, there is a limited number of qualified and experienced instructors to lead these programs. And for every teacher that claims that they can do this work, one session can provide evidence that they do not possess the training to lead employees.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay for a Mindfulness Meditation Program?
The cost of a program will be determined based on the following factors:
- The length of time of the sessions (e.g. 15, 30, 45, 60 minutes).
- The frequency of the sessions (e.g. every day, once per week, once per month).
- The number of people attending the sessions (e.g. up to 25, up to 50, up to 100, up to 500 people).
- The experience of the instructor (i.e. how many years he/she has been leading corporate Mindfulness sessions).
Mindfulness Meditation programs can cost anywhere from $1,000 to several thousands of dollars. To calculate what a program may cost, use the rates of $150 to $350 per session and multiply this by the number of sessions that you seek. The program price will be discounted so you can expect the price of the program top cost anywhere from 25-50% less than the figure that you calculate.
There was a time not too long ago when Mindfulness programs were not widely seen in the corporate world. Even though some of the largest corporations were early adopters of Mindfulness, the majority of corporations were not fully convinced of Mindfulness’ value towards the bottom line. However, in the last decade, just about all major corporations either have a Mindfulness program in place or have Mindfulness sessions.
At the time of this writing, there has been an uptick in the Covid-19 infection rate. Some USA cities have had dramatic increases in the infection rate. This situation coupled with the war in Ukraine, high gas prices, high food prices, shortages, and a poor economic forecast has many employees fearful. Stress appears to be once again at an all-time high and the percentage of employees affected by anxiety has dramatically increased. The uncertainty and fears that are at the forefront of many employees’ minds lead to a lack of focus, lower production, and a decrease in creativity. When anxiety and stress exist in people’s minds on a regular basis, this leads to illness.
Mindfulness Meditation programs are needed in companies. If HR managers look at the research that has been done, and they see these programs not as a non-essential perk, but as a necessary support mechanism, they will see the need to implement these programs to help support their organizations. These programs are investments in companies’ most valuable assets, their employees.
Meditation House has been providing custom corporate Mindfulness Meditation programs since 2015. Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, we have become specialists in Virtual Mindfulness Meditation sessions via Zoom and Teams. Our sessions bring a similar experience to employees as if we were leading them in Meditation in person. Please contact us and let’s discuss what your program will look like. Your employees will love you for this.