Company culture impacts employee engagement as well as customer retention. And that’s just the beginning. But, how often do you think of “kindness” when cultivating your all-important company culture? There are many benefits gained from being kind at work, as we detailed in our last article in this series. This article shares several strategies that can help encourage kindness.
Culture plays a role in employee experience, but it shouldn’t be the concern of human resources personnel alone. When a positive culture prospers, your entire organization can see advantages, including:
- Lowered stress levels help combat employee burnout and absenteeism
- Increased individual self-esteem can prompt people to be more creative and innovative
- Compassion encourages collaboration, greater connection, and improved relationships among employees and with customers
Kindness is at the heart of a positive work culture. Research suggests that “generosity is contagious.” People who receive an act of kindness will typically pay it forward, and often to someone new, which fosters a widespread culture of generosity.
So, what are some things that you and your people can do to cultivate a culture of kindness at work? The following strategies are simple yet effective ways to demonstrate generosity and compassion for others, leveraging the power of kindness at work.
Yes, it is really that simple. Smile at your colleagues more often. Even though smiling reduces blood pressure, stress, and feelings of pain, and helps strengthen our immune system and endurance, adults typically only smile 20 times per day. By comparison, kids smile an average of 400 times daily. Stop worrying about “laugh lines” and get in touch with your smiling inner child!
#2. Slow down
When you arrive to work, or start a Zoom meeting, take a moment first to check-in. Say “good morning.” Ask others “how are you?” Listen to the answer. Giving a few minutes of your day to an engaged conversation with your colleagues or customers is a small kindness that fosters long-term relationships.
#3. Listen first
Allow others to speak before you in meetings. Make a practice of listening, then asking “How can I help?” Even when you’re busy at work, there is value in committing yourself to giving others the floor or making time to hear others out.
If someone is experiencing a tough time at work, schedule time away from the office to let them vent. Invite them to grab a coffee or suggest an after work activity to show you’re there for coworkers when they need it.
#4. Help an overwhelmed co-worker out
This doesn’t mean you have to take on someone else’s workload (although you could do that if you are able to assist). You might simply offer to make them a cup of tea while they’re swamped at their desk, or order in lunch for both of you.
Paying attention to the people around you, you’ll notice when someone else is overworked or on deadline. Your small kindness can give them a much-needed boost and lower their stress levels.
#5. Celebrate others
This can be as simple as recognizing someone else’s birthday or posting a congratulations in Teams or on Slack for a colleague finishing a 5K. Or you might recognize the good work of others publicly. You might also give credit where it’s due and champion someone else’s good idea.
Even just paying someone else a compliment can boost how they feel about themselves in that moment. You’ll likely notice you feel better, too. Of course, you want to keep your compliments HR-compliant. Don’t focus on physical appearance. Instead, you might go with “I appreciate the way you ask really insightful questions,” or, “You’re great at keeping us all on track during meetings.”
#6. Squash a rumor
We can choose in every interaction whether we want to contribute to a culture of kindness at work or not. Squashing a rumor helps combat the dangers of gossip. While some amount of gossip can help team camaraderie, negative gossip erodes trust and morale and can divide employees into taking sides. Feelings can get hurt and reputations may be damaged, which can increase employee anxiety.
#7. Consider small bonuses
The Harvard Business Review suggests that a “peer bonus” system can help employees show appreciation and have a real positive effect. Encouraging your people to send one another a few dollars (from a company fund) in appreciation of excellent work can trigger benefits for both parties. Or, you might also start a program that lets employees send each other small gift cards to recognize one another.
#8. Share your knowledge
Being a mentor to someone else is a lasting kindness. Yet even simply sharing something you’ve learned with the team or sharing an article that helped you better understand a concept demonstrates your care for others.
We’re all bringing different skills and strengths to the workplace. Sharing what you know and your experiences, without being a know-it-all about it, can help you connect to others. At the same time, collaboration and creativity can grow as you show you trust and respect the people around you.
#9. Surprise another team
Your team probably works in parallel with many others in your organization. Show you appreciate their efforts by surprising them with breakfast treats. Or you might invite them to a meeting in which your people express gratitude. Or have each person on your team write a handwritten note to someone on that other team and leave it on their desks.
Small kindness at work, big results
Glassdoor reports that among more than 5,000 adults across four countries, 77% of adults consider company culture before applying for a job. Clearly, a culture of kindness culture at work can make a real difference when it comes to hiring and retention.
Fortunately, these ideas highlight the power of small gestures. Kindness at work is so powerful that you don’t have to do it on a grand scale to bring in big benefits.
Does your office culture promotes kindness? Get to know your employee experience better to create a culture everyone enjoys. SogoEX can help you capture the pulse of your organization to better bridge experience gaps and nurture a culture of kindness, engagement, and growth.