Being Kind at Work

Being kind at work it would appear, benefits people who do an act of kindness, the recipient, the organisation and the overall organisational climate.  A range of experiments (mainly laboratory based) has consistently shown that when someone is kind to us we ‘pay it forward’ and as a result we then reciprocate by being generous to someone else.  However, do these laboratory findings have any meaning in a ‘real life’ setting?

Being Kind at Work - Act of Kindness Card

A new study in the journal Emotion within a real-life setting, shows that kindness does ripple outwards across the organisation from people undertaking acts of kindness.  Joseph Chancellor studied workers in the Madrid site of Coca Cola, using mostly female workers across a range of departments.  The participants were told they were taking part in a happiness survey and on a weekly basis were checked, to report how they were feeling including their experience of positive and negative behaviours.

What the participants didn’t know was that 19 of the participants were working with the researchers as ‘givers’ of acts of kindness to some colleagues but not others (the control group).  These acts if kindness could have been bringing someone a drink, putting happy sticky notes on computer screens or emailing a thank you note to a colleague.

What did receivers experience?

Those individuals who received acts of kindness experienced:

  • 10 times more prosocial behaviours than the control group
  • The receivers felt more in control of their days at work
  • One month after the study ended, the receivers enjoyed significantly higher levels of happiness than controls

What did givers experience?

Interestingly the results of, those people giving, even allowing for their ‘participation’ with the researchers, were even more impressive than the receivers.

  • They enjoyed higher levels of life satisfaction
  • Higher levels of job satisfaction; and
  • Had fewer depressive symptoms.

This shouldn’t be really that surprising.  Much research illustrates that we feel happier when giving.  Probably somewhat akin to when we see the surprise of our close family and friends when we give them a Christmas or birthday gift.  We also feel happier when spending money on others than ourselves.

This contrasts in research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology that shows how people perceive more workplace rudeness when exposed to notions of rudeness at the start of the day.

How will you be kind at work in 2018?

So, as we approach 2018 perhaps we should all start to examine ways in which we can apply a little kindness (freely chosen) in our work and personal life so as to increase productivity and well-being at work.  Here are just 10 workplace suggestions:

  1. Tell your boss what you appreciate about them.
  2. Clean the microwave / kitchen (even if it isn’t your mess).
  3. Let go of a grudge
  4. Say “thank you” in person.
  5. Make a colleague some lunch.
  6. Give a glowing recommendation.
  7. Organise a charity event
  8. Organise a volunteer day.
  9. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  10. Ask someone how they are and really listen to the answer.

Therefore, being kind at work really does pay dividends for organisations.  We would love to hear from you of any further random acts of kindness you have done in the workplace.

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