Kindness is in our nature – at as early as 14 months old, we already instinctually understand and practice altruism with those around us. Being a bit kinder day-to-day confers all kinds of positive benefits that touch every arena of life:
- It makes you happier: It feels good to be kind. In fact, being kind to others will make you feel much happier about yourself. A UC Berkeley study found by studying brain scans that people who spend more of their income on others were markedly happier than those who spent more of their income on themselves, showing that kindness has real psychoactive benefits.
- It improves your overall health: The psychoactive benefits of kindness carry over to physical health, and practicing it often can boost your life expectancy. University of Michigan researchers discovered this in 2003 when they observed that people who regularly offered practical help to others had a lower risk of dying over a 5-year period than those who did not.
- It makes the world a better place: We say it in passing, but it’s actually true – we can “catch” kindness from others, and observing an act of altruism greatly increases the likelihood that we will act in a similar way. A joint study by Cambridge University, University of Plymouth, and UCLA proved this in experiments showing that the good feelings we get from witnessing benevolent acts spurs our inborn cooperation instincts.
Kindness in the Workplace
The benefits kindness brings into the workplace are achingly self-evident. That’s why World Kindness Day is an excellent excuse to celebrate in the workplace and bring your staff closer together with acts of kindness of your own. Here are a few ideas:
- Provide breakfast and/or lunch for the day. A staple of the recognition repertoire, free coffee and food is always a welcome gesture, and a great way to set the tone of the day. Be truly kind and let everyone know ahead of time so they can plan around it.
- Give a genuine compliment to every person you talk to. One little compliment can make a person’s whole day, so don’t be stingy. Make a point to compliment everyone you interact with on the day, and keep it up year-round for that matter.
- Let employees go home early. Time is invaluable to everyone, and giving it back to employees is one of the most magnanimous things a company can do to show its gratitude. Not everyone may be able to, but if you can, it is arguably the ultimate act of workplace kindness.
- Connect kindness to your actions. Give the day more personal meaning by communicating the science of kindness to employees, tying it to back to specific workplace actions. Be sure they know that being kind to others the best way to feel happy, alive, and ready to contribute.
Organizations looking to build honest employee satisfaction would do well to get serious about kindness in the workplace. It costs next to nothing but its benefits can completely transform your culture.