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World Kindness Day – Kindness and compassion in the workplace all year round

Amie Parnaby
13/11/2022
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You might have heard a few notable business people talking about kindness in business. You might not think it’s so important when trying to conquer the business world, but kindness, both internally and externally, makes a business run much smoother. Since it’s World Kindness Day, #WKD, let’s look at why kindness in the workplace, with colleagues and clients alike, is crucial to business success and reputation.

What is a Workplace Without Compassion or Empathy?

For many business owners and managers, kindness has long been considered a weakness and a vulnerability in the workplace. In tough times kindness can often disappear completely, as competition can obliterate compassion between colleagues. Even in times of ease and plenty, many managers believe that survival in business means leaving behind the softer skills of kindness, compassion and genuine collaboration.

Unfortunately, those managers are still very much “at large” and often lead to unpleasant working conditions. They seem to think that working above and beyond all the time and being available at all times is the secret to financial success. The actual result of these working practices is usually a high staff turnover, increased sick leave, and significant levels of burnout in the long term. That’s not to mention the poor relationships between colleagues and missed collaboration opportunities that could have yielded much better results.

Some of these managers need a lesson from a US president, switching out “nation” for “business”.

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people.  A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

What Does Workplace Kindness Bring to Business?

Being kind to each other has numerous interpersonal and collaborative benefits. However, in a business sense, some benefits cannot be matched in a business without a kindness culture.

Kindness boosts both mental and physical health

You might already know that there have been studies into the physical effects of practising kindness in our daily lives. One such study reported that they were significantly happier after only seven days of performing and experiencing acts of kindness. Other studies have concluded that kindness has definitive physical benefits that lead the brain to release different “happiness chemicals” that reduce hypertension, decrease pain, ease anxiety, and increase serotonin levels that help regulate mood.

Another study by the University of British Columbia determined that “kind” people have up to 23% less of the stress hormone cortisol than the average level. How they decided who was actually a “perpetually kind person” is undocumented…

The overall benefit is clear. Improved mental and physical health means fewer occasions of sick leave and less risk of burnout among employees.

“Sometimes it’s easy to lose faith in people. And sometimes one act of kindness is all it takes to give you hope again,”

– Randa Abdel-Fattah

Kindness helps bolster company culture

A successful company is more than the sum of its employees and clients. The company culture will say a lot about how the people perform, how they interact with clients, and how well they work together.

We help and support each other, and the business grows through mutual collaboration, sharing ideas and working together for the best possible outcome. In an environment of fierce competition, beating the others, you have none of these benefits. People don’t want to share their ideas for fear of ridicule or sabotage from colleagues. Even worse, having a colleague steal the idea as their own for management acclaim.

A culture of kindness brings many more benefits than stiff competition and “every man for himself”.

“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

Kindness generates kindness

The more kindness we receive, the more we feel inclined to give it back. I’m not saying that kindness is transactional and “quid pro quo”, but the more we experience and perform, the more kindness there is to go around.

For example, you might ask someone to join you for a coffee in the morning, and they appreciate that gesture (even when they have to say no). However, that little kindness leads to them asking you for coffee one afternoon and maybe asking someone else too. Or perhaps bring a colleague a coffee and a piece of cake when they have a packed and stressful day.

Kindness is contagious, and every small kindness performed has the chance of being both reciprocated and passed along.

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.”

Eric Hoffer

How To Create a “Kindness Culture” in Your Business

The only way to start creating a culture of kindness in your business is to demonstrate it from the top down. Your people will take the company culture cues from the top. If they do not see kindness modelled from the top, the adverse effects will amplify all the way down through the company hierarchy.

There is much more in-depth information in other articles that have said it more than eloquently enough, and I don’t need to parrot their information. However, I have included a list for a brief rundown of how you can build a culture of kindness in your workplace.

  • Provide an excellent example of the kindness you expect in your employees.
  • Include mentorship as part of your employee integration
  • Make the time to actively listen to your people
  • Stay kind, even if you don’t feel kind
  • Eliminate any lingering toxicity
  • Encourage Team bonding and collaboration
  • Reward kindness and compassion
  • Encourage staff to “pay it forward”.
  • Foster gratitude with your teams
  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
  • Understand your people and their perspectives

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

– Lao Tzu

What Small Acts of Kindness Make Someone’s Day a Little Better?

If you don’t know, it’s time to ask. We make a point to ask everyone in SimplyBook.me which little acts of kindness made their days shine a little brighter. And we got some great responses:

  • It’s small things like someone asking how your day is or how you are. Not the usual ‘it’s fine’ or ‘it’s okay’, but actually taking the time to speak with the person and check how they are doing.
  • When a colleague goes the extra step to help me at work.
  • When I hear a thank you – and that person means it.
  • I feel appreciated when someone shouts me out or tells me they’re impressed by my achievements.
  • When someone is kind enough to kick some sense into my head when I am doing stupid things, thinking foolish thoughts, or not caring enough about myself.
  • If someone is kind enough to bear with me while I am cursing and complaining about something that irritated me.
  • One friendly smile can brighten the day and doesn’t cost a cent.
  • When someone thanks me for something and appreciates the work that went into it.
  • When someone shares part of themselves with me (which gives a little more insight to the person) and trusts me with it.
  • Sharing beautiful music links

Kindness costs nothing. A positive start to the day with a smile and a heartfelt greeting can set the tone for everyone around you.

If you are thinking something positive about someone – why not share it with them? Compliments don’t cost anything and make the person feel good – as long as they are genuine.

“Every small, unselfish action nudges the world into a better path. An accumulation of small acts can change the world,”

-Robin Hobb

Kindness, compassion, and empathy for others only make our own lives sweeter.

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