Workplace kindness begins with a kind word, and there’s no better time to start than today. Don’t just say “thanks” or “good job” — give it a little thought. You’ll be making someone’s day, guaranteed.
Workplace kindness is an HR focal point right now because we need it. As a culture, we’ve gotten away from practicing kindness in everyday life, distracted as we often are by digital gadgets, overbooked schedules and overflowing email inboxes.
We think we’re too busy to be kind — yet ironically, research shows that taking a few minutes each day to slow down and be kind is an antidote to stress. It helps us feel calmer, happier and more productive. And those are just the benefits for kindness givers — recipients experience benefits, too!
Break from the status quo and start a new habit of practicing kindness today.
It starts with you and your management team.
“A culture of kindness has to be embraced, promoted and encouraged by company leaders. They set the tone,” writes the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke in his recent column, “Leaders Are Key to Kindness In the Workplace.”
In a series of recent columns, Huppke has been delving into the subject of workplace kindness. What are the best ways to share kindness? How does a company incorporate kindness into its culture? And, most intriguing, why is kindness something we all love but don’t always practice?
Read on to get inspired by Huppke and others to spread workplace kindness for “Say Something Nice Day”!
How Power Kills Kindness — And How Perspective Can Help
Since employees take cultural cues from their superiors, it’s important for leaders to model workplace kindness.
Seems straightforward and simple enough, right? However, it ignores a key aspect of human behavioral psychology.
Huppke points to new research published in Harvard Business Review that shows people in power have a harder time being kind. They’re more likely to cheat, lie and otherwise take advantage of their power.
The good news is that these negative effects of power can be mitigated through what researcher David Dubois calls “perspective-taking”:
“We do have evidence that leaders can learn ‘perspective-taking.’ In other words, they can develop the habit of asking, ‘What does the person in front of me think and want?’ or ‘If I were on the other side of the table, what would seem fair?’ or ‘Would I want this decision to appear on Page 1 of The Wall Street Journal?’ Perspective-taking can easily be primed through short exercises or developed through training.”
This isn’t an institutional quick fix, Dubois says. Because kindness and compassion are difficult to evaluate and quantify, they have yet to be fully integrated on a large scale into organizational processes and leadership.
That may soon change. It’s increasingly clear that workplace kindness is essential to business success.
“There’s ample evidence that kindness pays off, whether through worker satisfaction, retention or overall productivity. So if leaders don’t want to be kind because it’s the right thing to do, they should work to be kind because it’s the smart thing to do,” Huppke writes.
Creating a New Business Foundation with Kindness
Huppke has gotten lots of feedback for his columns on workplace kindness. And in all the feedback, “nobody wrote to tell me that kindness is dumb,” he jokes.
“That may sound silly,” he continues, “but it’s quite fundamental. Many workplaces were built on the antiquated idea that you have to be a jerk to succeed. That foundation is crumbling, slowly, and as workers continue to push back against the toxicity of unkind behavior, companies will place greater emphasis not just on collegiality but on actual caring and concern.”
Huppke calls for a new foundation for business success, built on kindness instead of power and control. Yet there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
“Every company culture is unique, and while kindness seems a simple concept, weaving it into the fabric of your company’s culture will require dialogue, experimentation and a willingness to try and fail and then try again. What works in one company might be regarded as cheesy and ineffective in another. That’s OK. Work on it and figure out what brings your people together the best,” he writes.
Building Workplace Kindness, One Compliment at a Time
A sustainable culture of kindness takes time and commitment, as Huppke stresses.
Still, a simple act of kindness or series of great compliments can begin to define and mold your company culture — and that can start today!
Huppke was inspired by a “kindness jar” at a local grade school, filled with slips of paper describing kind acts or words between students.
“I’m not suggesting every company in America purchase a large plastic jar and encourage employees to scrawl random acts of kindness on slips of scrap paper. … But much can be borrowed from what’s happening in this classroom. Nothing bad comes from finding ways to reinforce kind behavior. It doesn’t cost money to help people in the workplace think more deeply about how their words and actions affect others,” he writes.
If you’re not accustomed to giving compliments at work, you’re not alone! Research shows that a majority of people struggle with sharing gratitude at work. But there’s only one way to change that: make a point of complimenting someone every day, starting today.
Stumped for a good compliment? Check out Inc.’s “10 Compliments You Should Give Daily” and Incentive Magazine’s guide to giving specific compliments on the job.
And for practical tips on sharing and promoting gratitude every day in your workplace, download our free eBook “Transform Your Workplace With Gratitude.” You’ll find advice here on recruiting and retaining a great workforce, engaging employees and building a sustainable culture of appreciation.
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