Mindfulness at Work – Is It a Legal Risk?
A lawyer in the UK cautions employers about offering mindfulness training to their staff as it could create a legal risk for the company. This is an interesting perspective built on the presumption that mindfulness training is seen as a form of “therapy.”
Helping people to understand how to ‘live in the moment without judgement,’ is the main principle of mindfulness. I am not sure that all mindfulness training can be considered therapy, but I understand that people like to sue for anything these days. Because of the litigious nature of society, I agree that employers and their management teams should present mindfulness training [italicize] in the appropriate framework.
I believe mindfulness training, is just that- training. Just like other types of skills and behaviors companies expose their staff to, mindfulness is just another tool for employees to have in their toolkit. Employees who are able to add the practice of mindfulness to their workday are less stressed and more productive. They feel better about their jobs and themselves.
I have found mindfulness helps me to deal with those unexpected irritants that can move you off your game at the job. Whether it be people, policies or the dreaded processes, I can use mindfulness to remember that ‘this too shall pass.’ Learning to breathe and stop letting outside influences roil my day has been invaluable.
The article encourages employers to ensure the training is not offered to just one group. It should also be presented at a time and in a manner that doesn’t encumber the staff by making their jobs more difficult. I think that information is applicable for lots of training options, not just mindfulness.
I hope this lawyer’s viewpoint of doesn’t derail the increasing use of mindfulness training as a option for employees. As with any other new skills being taught to staff, you must present it in the correct fashion. Take the focus off mindfulness as therapy as a first step. Mindfulness has been proven as a valuable skill for workers, especially office workers.
That is why the Living Happier @ Work programs introduce practical applications of mindfulness (along with the other 3 practices of gratitude, kindness and exercise) for workers to see how to use the skills in their everyday work activity. Applying the learned skills to how they approach meetings, addressing workplace conflict and even their emails take the training from a therapeutic offering to real workplace skill.
It’s part of a bosses job to help make their teams increase productivity. It’s a bonus if the training you offer helps the staff become less stressed. Mindfulness training can do both. Present the tool as a skill to be mastered, not a therapy and you can reduce concerns about litigation.