Few professionals give much thought to kindness in the workplace. Often, we’re too busy keeping up with the workload, seeing to patients, and meeting deadlines. Plus, there’s a culture of competitiveness in the American workforce that emphasizes personal success above all else. But with an increasing focus on well-being in the workplace, it’s time to make kindness a top priority.
The Ripple Effects of Kindness
If you’ve ever tossed a stone in a pond, you’ve seen firsthand the ripple effect this creates. Kindness in the workplace produces a similar phenomenon; a study by the American Psychological Association found that kindness and generosity are contagious. This is exemplified by the “Pay It Forward” movement; if you’ve ever had the person in front of you pay for your meal in the drive-through lane, you’ve probably returned the favor by paying for the car behind you.
Researchers from the University of California studied employees working at Coca Cola’s headquarters in Madrid. They told participants they were conducting a happiness study and asked them to check in once a week for four weeks so researchers could gauge their mood, satisfaction levels, and positive or negative experiences. They also looked at how these employees behaved around their coworkers. To get an accurate assessment, 19 of the participants were told to perform an act of kindness toward coworkers who weren’t a part of the study every week. Each had the freedom to perform any generous act they wanted, including simple gestures that many of us take for granted, such as bringing somebody a drink or emailing a thank-you note.
By the end of the study, it was clear that these acts of kindness were having a significant impact on positivity in the workplace and the employees’ well-being. Those who were the recipients of kindness reported a strong sense of friendship and solidarity, as well as a higher level of happiness and fewer incidences of stress or depression, even when the workload grew demanding. Even those in the control group reported higher levels of job and life satisfaction, more autonomy, and more competent at their jobs. The takeaway from all this? We feel happier when giving to others, and kindness positively impacts not only those who are the recipients, but the givers, as well.
The study makes it clear that practicing acts of kindness in the workplace leads to more prosocial behavior amongst employees. It helps foster a culture of inclusivity and promotes a sense of belonging and well-being.
Try it out for yourself. We think you’ll be pleased with the results!