Workplace kindness may be one of the rarest forms of kindness. We’re more frequently expected to share kindness at home, with friends, in places of worship, in our neighborhood and at school.
Yet the workplace is one place where kindness is not emphasized and often sorely missed — we’re too busy, too distracted, too competitive.
The climate of communication today is often unkind, too. We’re barely a week out from a bitterly divisive presidential election with name-calling from both sides. We have been immersed in inconsiderate commentary for endless months.
We all need kindness — today more than ever. In employee management in particular, kindness is powerful. It lifts up people, and it lifts up business. Sharing kindness makes both the giver and the receiver feel good. It sparks a kindness chain reaction.
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
World Kindness Day seeks to challenge the status quo and promote everyday kindness through gratitude and action. Celebrate it this Nov. 13! Better yet, choose to invest in your workplace culture by focusing on building a climate of kindness. We love the inspiration from the RAK Foundation and bet you will, too.
Read on for examples of workplace kindness and tips for celebrating #WorldKindnessDay with your employees.
What Workplace Kindness Looks Like in Action
“Let the first words out of my mouth be an encouragement to my fellow employees,” writes Inc. columnist John Brandon this week in his article, “Is Your Culture One of Encouragement or Blame?”
“That simple understanding about how to conduct business,” he continues, “especially in our modern work culture that values aggressive tactics over kindness, could be the one thing that creates a differentiating factor for most companies.”
Kindness attracts employees, creates an atmosphere of innovation, racks up sales from customers and can even help a company tough-out hard times.
Brandon had this realization during a visit to the burger joint Five Guys.
“I had ordered fries to share with my wife. We waited and waited. I noticed how the employees reacted when we finally alerted them to the problem. They didn’t turn on each other like vultures.
One of the employees asked the manager on duty about giving us an extra order of fries. I knew the person running the burger counter had screwed up, but everyone acted like it was a minor oversight. The entire team quickly moved into ‘solve the problem’ mode. It was wonderful to watch. (And the fries were awesome.)”
What’s so great about this anecdote is that it shows how action-oriented kindness is. And practical! Blame is counterproductive and is ultimately irrelevant in most scenarios. These employees weren’t just kind to a customer, they were kind to each other.
Kindness can be an act or the articulation of gratitude, but it’s also a shift in mindset. And it defines your whole company culture.
“You can only create one culture. Either everyone has an attitude of accusation or they have an attitude of encouragement. You have to pick the one that works,” Brandon writes.
The culture that works is one of kindness and encouragement.
Otherwise, Brandon warns, “employees switch into a protective mode. They don’t do anything risky or great. They lie low and do what they’re told. … They do average, good work. And they know no one will notice.”
Celebrate Workplace Kindness on World Kindness Day
World Kindness Day is a “global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good,” according to the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation.
The RAK Foundation website is a good place to start for resources, logos and ideas for celebrating World Kindness Day (and Random Acts of Kindness Day, which is Feb. 17).
The nonprofit organization also has social media accounts with inspiring content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Chime in on social media with the hashtag #WorldKindnessDay!
Here are four ideas to promote workplace kindness on World Kindness Day to get you started:
1. Organize a workplace giving campaign
Your local United Way is a good place to start for help organizing and implementing a charity campaign with employees. As one United Way director puts it, “A workplace campaign is a great team-bonding activity that positively impacts the community. Your donation today can change someone’s life forever.”
2. Go out in the community and hand out free treats
Put on matching company shirts and take your team out to a local shopping mall or other heavily trafficked area to hand out treats to passersby. It doesn’t matter exactly what you’re handing out — cookies, cake, lollipops, $5 gift certificates, fresh fruit, dog treats. What matters is that everyone is having fun and making positive connections through kindness.
3. Rally around a coworker going through a hard time
If someone on your team has a chronically ill child or parent, or has recently gone through trauma like a serious car accident, get together to do something nice for that person or their family. It could be as simple as a “Thinking of You” card or sending flowers to their home.
4. Coach company leaders in kindness
Practicing kindness doesn’t always come naturally, especially for business leaders who are caught up in worry, competition or crisis management. Help them see a new perspective: encourage and offer coaching in how to build workplace kindness. After all, for kindness to have lasting impact in the workplace, it needs to start from the top.
Looking for more inspiration? Browse through dozens of kindness ideas from RAK Foundation members. Not all are workplace-related, but many can be adapted as workplace kindness activities.
And of course the simplest way to participate in World Kindness Day is to be kind to someone. Hold a door. Give a compliment. Ask and listen. Pay for someone’s coffee. Smile at a stranger. You’ll be sparking a kindness chain reaction.
May World Kindness Day bring you and your team joy!
Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude
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