An independent research agency in the field of sustainable development is strongly committed to the growth of its employees. The organisation therefore offers a comprehensive range of support for everyone's professional development. They also wanted to pay attention to work pressure. Realising that the work situation is increasingly demanding, management wanted to give employees the necessary tools and knowledge to deal with those conditions.
The central question was: How can our employees, despite increasing work pressure, remain positive and keep their inner clarity and focus?
We started by interviewing employees: What makes this theme really important to you? What things do you find challenging with regard to this topic? How will you be able to notice that this process has made a difference in the end? These conversations helped us design a tailor-made program and it sparked off the participants' reflection process. So, the learning process had already begun.
We then built an integrated programme with attention for physical, relational, cognitive and spiritual aspects of mindfulness. In order to lower the barriers for participants, we started from the cognitive angle: What are your learning objectives? What is stress? Where does mindfulness come from? What is it? Is there scientific evidence for its effectiveness? Then we started slowing down, inviting participants to consciously listen to their inner voice and we addressed the physical aspects through breathing exercises, yoga and meditation.
We worked in small groups that came together for half-day workshops to learn in different ways: turning inward, exchanging experiences with colleagues, learning from us as external experts. The small learning groups formed an ideal context for intervision, participants brought their own cases and learned from each other. In between sessions, they worked on small initiatives at their own workplace, each in their own way.
Awareness of well-being grew, and participants realised the effect of prolonged stress on the body and its functioning. Participants learned to recognise their own alarm signals. And they discovered how they can have a positive influence on their own well-being instead of being 'lived' by their job. As a result, employees feel more self-confident and better able to cope with the increasing pressure of their demanding work context.
But more happened... Through this process, themes such as stress and burn-out became open themes for discussion in the organisation. Because of mutual recognition people no longer felt alone in their problems and trust grew. Which also means that people now support each other better in order to be and stay healthy.