Kindness in the workplace isn’t just about being “nice.” It also builds and enhances positive workplace dynamics, from employee engagement and happiness to cooperation and productivity.
In honor of World Kindness Day, invigorate your company’s commitment to developing kindness in the workplace — and leave the rudeness, gossip and other uncivil behaviors where they belong: on TV.
Kindness ≠ Weakness
It’s “time to drop our preconceptions” about kindness in the workplace, according to Management Today columnist Rebecca Alexander.
“Kindness can seem out-of-step with modern workplace mores. It’s often conflated with weakness, or a lack of drive,” she writes in “Why Being Kind Can Make Us Happier and More Productive.”
Kindness’ bad rep may stem from confusion over what it actually means.
In reality, being kind doesn’t make you “the office pushover,” as Alexander puts it. In fact, she writes, kindness comes from a place of strength and is the driving force behind any successful workplace or career:
Critical in anyone’s career success are the relationships we build inside and outside the workplace. Strong relationships within teams are important in fostering resilience. And one of the factors driving employee engagement, currently flatlining in Gallup’s latest engagement survey, is how connected we feel to colleagues.
The Power of Kindness
To understand the impact of kindness in the workplace, consider the disastrous effects of its absence!
“Employees who experience incivility in the workplace are more likely to decrease their efforts, productivity and time spent at work, and be less committed to the company as a whole,” writes Terri Gillespie, of Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel LLP, for JD Supra Business Advisor.
“Additionally, workplace incivility can have a detrimental effect on the health of employees and lead to cardiovascular disease, ulcers and other health problems,” Gillespie writes.
Kind behaviors — such as listening, compassion and social support — are the antidote.
Best of all, kindness spreads naturally because of our innate desire to “pay it forward.” According to a 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), cooperative behavior “cascades” in human networks. Contributions to the public good tripled over the course of the study’s experiment, as each wave of participants were influenced to contribute more.
This natural “pay it forward” process boosts cooperation, which in turn fuels productivity.
“People feel good about themselves when they’re treated with compassion. As a result, they tend to want to extend those positive feelings to others,” writes Forbes contributor Amy Morin in “Introducing A Little Compassion to Your Workplace Culture Has Big Benefits.”
“Office productivity is much more likely to soar when co-workers are cooperating, rather than competing with one another’s efforts,” Morin writes.
5 Questions to Assess Workplace Kindness
Workplace kindness takes commitment. A one-time employee workshop on kindness won’t magically make your workplace kinder! Approach it as a permanent, multifaceted cultural shift rather than a trend.
Sustainable, enduring workplace kindness comes from a place of authenticity and cultural internalization at all levels, not just “because it’s what the boss wants,” according to Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Olivia O’Neill, who has studied the effects of companionate love in the workplace. For kindness to take hold and flourish in the workplace, leaders need to be the first to model kind behaviors, she adds.
Does kindness thrive in your workplace? Ask yourself — does your company culture:
- Promote everyday conversations on fresh ideas and interests?
- Welcome new hires with open arms?
- Encourage leaders to build on employee strengths?
- Support individual self-care practices like physical activity and work-life balance?
- Take its cues from a positive, solutions-focused leadership?
Make Every Day World Kindness Day!
Challenge the status quo! Make every day #WorldKindnessDay by promoting a culture of kindness in the workplace.
Let today be the beginning to a holiday season of full of kindness. “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” author Caroline Dowd-Higgins suggests everyday workplace kindness tips in her recent Huffington Post article, “Make This The Season for Gratitude and Giving in Your Career.”
“In the best scenario, your example of giving and grateful behavior will cause a culture shift and encourage others to pay it forward in your workplace as well,” she writes.
Learn more about harnessing the power of workplace kindness in our popular free eBook, “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.” Click the image below and start transforming your workplace today!
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