Kindness at Workplace— Why It Is So Important?
Workplace stress is a nightmare for many. 79 percent of people report feeling stressed during their workdays. And it doesn’t help that our days are often sandwiched between traffic jams and housework. 61 percent of American professionals say work is a major stressor in their lives. On an individual level, employees who are stressed suffer from more headaches, insomnia, anxiety, heart disease, depression, back pain, and weakened immune systems. On an organisational level, stressed out employees may translate to higher health care costs, more absenteeism, and lower productivity overall because stress is contagious.
Kindness is also contagious. According to one study, those who experience kindness from others pay it forward by 278 percent. Kindness towards others inspires gratitude, which drives team members to be kind to coworkers. With just a few small acts from a handful of employees (for instance, saying thank you more often or sharing compliments), good vibes can radiate throughout a company, and employees may feel the benefits even months later.
Here are 5 low-cost, high-impact, science-supported strategies for spreading kindness into your company culture:
1. Gratitude is an Attitude
Gratitude is something that we all must learn to practice — be it a workplace or in social or personal settings. This is a sheer demonstration of kindness. Begin with saying thank you to the restaurant waiter for a great service he/she provided you at lunch today. This list must go on and on.
We can help develop the habit by supplying our team members with the classic tool of gratitude: the thank-you card. If the team works in an open landscape, let them know publicly how grateful are you as a team lead who have met deadlines or have done a fantastic job. If you have remote team members, use electronic medium(s) but don’t miss them out.
2. Recognition is the KEY
The supreme form of gratitude that comes from leadership is called “Recognition”. There are many ways to recognise employees. Pay raises can be effective, of course, while more public displays of recognition can give the whole team a buzz. One study found that when top performers receive recognition in front of their peers, the largest boosts in productivity come from those who aren’t recognised. Consider sparing time for shout-outs that recognise team members for everyday contributions.
For bigger accomplishments, consider offering a corporate gift. Anything useful for the employee with the company logo. That gift will mean a lot more if you get to know the person’s interests and get them something personal. Timely recognition helps retain employees. Remembering employee birthdays and work anniversaries is critical.
3. Random Acts of Kindness (ARK)
Research suggest that out-of-the blue kindness can be just as effective as routine expressions of gratitude and recognition. One study asked participants to commit random acts of kindness (ARK) for seven days. These acts boosted happiness and wellbeing for both the givers and receivers.
Participants chose a variety of people to receive kindness: friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and complete strangers. The positive effects were the same no matter who the recipients were. It turns out, you don’t need to have a relationship with someone for kindness to benefit both of you.
4. Genuine Feedback = Kindness
Sharing constructive feedback isn’t necessarily considered to be an act of kindness. But if done well, it can be — even if the feedback you offer is a critique. In her book Radical Candor, Kim Scott debunks the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Her view is that discussing an employee’s weaknesses one-on-one and supporting them in finding a solution shows how much you care about them and their careers. The key is to keep this conversation affirming and constructive.
Always remember that Productive Feedback Fuels Performance, especially when it’s initiated with a genuine intent. In a study conducted with Finnish teachers, researchers discovered people are nicer when they believe kindness is a character strength they possess. The takeaway? One of the best ways to boost kindness in your organization is to recognise and compliment kindness when you see it among your coworkers.
5. Lead by Example
As the studies cited above show, small, one-off actions can have a tremendous impact on workplace stress. One of the best ways to encourage kind actions is for leaders to spread kindness. Here are some small ways that anyone can bring kindness to the workplace.
- Send out emails to the employees with a compliment
- Greet employees with a genuine smile on your face, within and outside your teams
- Go out of your way to extend help especially to the newer employees
- Connect with colleagues on LinkedIn and give them glowing reviews
- Point out employees’ strengths when you publicly meet them
The only caveat to consider: Start slow. “Try one kindness initiative at a time,” Liz Jazwiec, author of Eat That Cookie! Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off. For Individuals, Teams and Organizations, said in an interview with Reliable Plant magazine. “After all, you wouldn’t want your coworkers to walk in one day and think that you’ve been brainwashed.”
If companywide kindness is your goal, you can build a culture of kindness quickly by encouraging random acts of kindness (ARK) across departments. The acts can be as simple as holding the door open for an unfamiliar colleague or sharing a light-hearted meme with a remote teammate. There are many ways to define kindness within your company culture. But if you want to reap the benefits of kindness — including improved mental health, greater productivity, and lower workplace stress — your definition must include action.
About the Author
Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder and Managing Director of Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan, Evolve HR thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.