Over the past few decades, mind-body wellness has had a noticeable impact on the corporate landscape. More and more businesses, both large and small, have been integrating a holistic, consciousness-based approach to wellness and productivity for their employees and business models. The benefits of yoga, meditation, breath work, and other mind-body modalities have been embraced by some of the most successful companies in the world, such as Apple, Google, Target, AOL Time Warner, Yahoo, and HBO.
For instructors in these practices, or those who are passionate about sharing them with a larger corporate audience, the growing receptivity of the business world to these timeless teachings presents a great opportunity for transforming workplace culture.
But just how do we go about taking the message of mind-body wellness to the masses in offices and boardrooms? What steps can we take to ensure that we successfully translate the great wisdom traditions into the modern marketplace?
The steps that follow are what I have used to share these teachings with a Fortune 100 Company over the past several years. They map out the process that is necessary to bring this knowledge into the contemporary business world.
Step 1: Have A Clear Intention
Every plan starts with an intention. We need to begin by identifying exactly:
1) What we are trying to accomplish
2) What the end result will be
For example, our intention could be to bring meditation to 500 employees in a local business, the result of which would be reduced employee stress, improved employee and customer relations, and reduced employee absenteeism.
Step 2: Know Your Audience and Their Needs
This step may seem obvious, but it’s imperative that you understand the business you are trying to influence. The culture in the corporate, healthcare, or education fields is far removed from the environment of a meditation or yoga retreat. As such, mind-body teachings, while self-evident to those of us who practice and teach them, may seem foreign or otherworldly to those in the business world. It is therefore vitally important that we appreciate and recognize the business’ mission, values, and specific needs before trying to sell them on mind-body techniques.
We have to speak their language and share these teachings in a way that works best for them. Determine what the business struggles with and what it needs in regards to the employees’ wellness and then work to fill those needs. This is a perfect opportunity to ask yourself, how can I help?
Step 3: Write a Business Proposal with an Executive Summary
Once you have a thorough understanding of the business you will be working with, it will be time to draft a business proposal that explains your intention and how it will benefit the company. This proposal should be a document that identifies the need and demand that your program will help to address, the demonstrated benefits of the teachings that will be shared with the employees (e.g., research showing the ways meditation or yoga can improve health, productivity, etc.), and an outline or summary of the proposed program or teachings.
The proposal should also include an executive summary that as concisely as possible explains to the executive leadership exactly how your program will improve the company’s business. To do this, think like an executive. If you owned the company, you would want to know specifically what this program would do for you in business terms, such as improved employee performance or retention, lower insurance premiums, increased employee happiness, or any calculable financial impact.
Step 4: Identify an Executive Champion
If possible, see if there is an executive leader in the company who will align themselves with your intention and overall mission. While not always possible, finding a high-level leader in the organization who is sympathetic to your proposal can serve as a very powerful trigger for moving your intention forward. If a leader has personally experienced the benefits of what you wish to teach or share with their employees, they can often champion the program from a high level, essentially being your internal marketer. If you are a teacher and have personally taught a leader or executive in the company, reach out to them to see if they will be willing to rally others to your mission.
Step 5: Be Subtly Persistent
Know that businesses may not immediately jump to embrace mind-body teachings into their workplace. Don’t see this as a failure. It may take time for the business climate to shift or for the company to adopt an updated wellness model that values a more holistic approach. Stay the course and know that your intention will blossom when the season is right.
Be subtle in your persistence, however. You want to be ready when the opportunity arises, but not pushy. Practice detachment and let go of how you think things should turn out. Your intention may end up being fulfilled in a form that you hadn’t expected, so don’t stubbornly cling to a “my way or the highway” mentality. Let go and be vigilant. This is the perfect opportunity to walk your talk and live with the integrity that comes from a consciousness-based way of life.
Step 6: Exceed Expectations
When the exciting time comes that your proposal is accepted and things are moving forward, be sure to set your own bar very high. Exceed the expectations of the company by over-delivering a program of exceptional quality.
If you are doing the teaching yourself, the onus is on you to be the professional subject matter expert in your field. Do whatever you need to do to present the very best for those who are technically your customers, such as dressing the part; being 100 percent prepared; creating visual aids, slideshows, or handouts; and providing post-program follow-up. If you aren’t facilitating the programs yourself, be sure that whoever is doing the instruction is a reputable, certified instructor in that specified field and is aligned with your mission.
Step 7: Measure the Results
If possible, once the program is complete, look for ways to measure the impact of the teachings on the employees. Many businesses use measurement tools to determine the effectiveness of a specific strategy or training program. Consider having the employees complete a survey of the program and how they feel the teachings may have impacted their lives or performance.
Also, nearly all large companies keep records of attendance, performance reviews, job satisfaction, and other measurable markers of a healthy and happy workforce. Re-measuring those markers following the program provides before and after snapshots to attest to the efficacy of your offering. This provides very tangible evidence that your program was of befit. At the very least, asking the leadership to poll the participating employees on the quality of the teaching will help you to improve for future programs.
As a side note, strive to maintain a good relationship with your business partners within the company. This will foster the relationships that can help your reputation as an agent of change and transformation in the corporate world grow and thrive.