More than meditation: The missed opportunity of mindfulness for organisational change

Press Releases

3 Apr 2017

A new study has found that mindfulness can be used to achieve successful change in organisations. The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and Cranfield University’s School of Management have carried out an in-depth analysis looking beyond the value of mindfulness-based techniques and outcomes for individuals to consider their potential impact at a strategic level.

Some organisations already offer mindfulness training to individual employees, and the evidence shows that it can have benefits, including stress reduction, wellbeing, and focus. However, this new report, Mindfulness in organisations, reveals how organisations could be applying mindfulness more thoughtfully in support of organisational objectives such as change-readiness, agility and resilience.

The researchers mapped evidence from mindfulness studies against studies into strategic change, and explored several case studies. They also convened more than twenty experts to discuss the topic and offer their insights. These combined perspectives led them to conclude that organisations are missing a big opportunity to use more strategically oriented mindfulness initiatives to support major organisation change.

The report describes in detail how different organisations implemented mindfulness in their organisations, and the progress they have made. It also offers a summary of the main tips the experts agreed on, which have informed an accompanying infographic.

Alison Carter, lead author of the report and a principal research fellow at IES, commented:

‘Attitudes towards mindfulness in workplaces tend to be binary: it’s either considered brilliantly effective or cuddly nonsense. However, our research goes beyond whether it’s good for individual employees, and looks at the broader benefits it can bring. The organisations we spoke to all used different approaches but without exception they believed it had some positive impact on their organisation at a collective level. The experts we gathered also agreed, all giving us their own perspectives on how organisations can find success with it.’

Jutta Tobias, co-author of the report and a senior lecturer at Cranfield School of Management, added:

‘Mindfulness is about more than meditating. And an organisation’s culture and leadership are pivotal in making – or breaking – any mindfulness initiative in the long run. So in order for any mindfulness training to be effective and sustainable, it needs to be embedded in the organisation’s context, and mindfulness tools and techniques need to target culture change as well as individual transformation.’


Notes to editor

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The Institute for Employment Studies

IES is an independent, apolitical, international centre of research and consultancy in public employment policy and HR management. It works closely with employers in all sectors, government departments, agencies, professional bodies and associations. IES is a focus of knowledge and practical experience in employment and training policy, the operation of labour markets, and HR planning and development. IES is a not-for-profit organisation.

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Cranfield School of Management

Cranfield has been a world leader in management education and research for 50 years, helping individuals and organisations learn and succeed by transforming knowledge into action. We are dedicated to creating responsible management thinking, improving business performance and inspiring the next generation of business leaders. We work to change the lives of our students and executives by encouraging innovation and creative thinking, as well as the drive to succeed and make a real impact on their organisations.

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Cranfield School of Management tweets from @cranfieldmngmt

About Dr Alison Carter

Alison is a principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies. She writes, speaks and consults on a range of HR, organisation change and workplace coaching issues. Currently she is advising a leading-edge group of employers on how to leverage their mindfulness, coaching and leadership arrangements to better support and future-proof large scale changes in ways of working across their organisations. Alison was Co-Chair of the 2nd Harvard International Coaching Research Forum and is a Chartered Fellow of Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) and member of the US Academy of Management.

About Dr Jutta Tobias

Jutta is a senior lecturer at Cranfield University’s School of Management in the UK. She researches, teaches, and consults on the link between mindfulness, leadership and performance, and has introduced thousands of senior managers, executives and postgraduate students to mindfulness over the last few years. She regularly speaks and advises on workplace mindfulness and leadership, eg in the UK House of Commons, Cabinet Office, and the Department of Health. She also serves as an expert advisor to The Mindfulness Initiative, a policy institute with bipartisan sponsorship from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness in the UK Parliament.