Do you remember the first friend you made in your workplace as a fresher? You couldn’t find your way to the canteen and that kind person helped you out. They also kept you company and chatted with you over coffee and it turned out that your mothers were old friends many ages ago? Kindness is not overrated and it never will be. It often leads to happy coincidences. But it is rare, especially in the workplace, and it is important to foster a culture of kindness in your workplace so that managers, team-mates, employees, and customers feel safe.
Here are some ways to inculcate kindness-culture at different levels in your organization:
- Sharing food
This isn't a new one, but you probably haven’t thought of this with regard to your workplace. For centuries, people groups and cultures have shared food and recipes, and developed hybrid cuisines. Don’t underestimate the power of sitting together, eating together, and sharing meals and recipes during the lunch hour at your workplace. It works wonders by bringing diverse people together and starting interesting conversations. You could also simply bake chocolate cookies or a banana cake and carry it to work to share with everybody. Food touches hearts beyond words.
- Employees that celebrate together, stay together
Sharing in celebrations too, fosters the creation of bonds. Your senior is retiring? Throw them a farewell party. It’s your HR’s birthday? Sing them happy birthday and ask everyone to pitch in for a cake. Your colleague has just gone on maternity leave? Wish her a happy motherhood!
- Be considerate
Don’t leave anyone out. At office parties, make sure you’ve invited all staff. While celebrating birthdays, farewells and more, don’t leave out security and cleaning staff. If you know that a colleague is allergic to eggs, get them an eggless cake. If a staff member falls ill, send them flowers. Little acts of kindness go a long way.
- Listening culture with solution-based approach
When you’re caught in a horrible problem, there’s no better feeling in the world than being genuinely heard. Being heard makes one feel validated and lightens their burden. It is necessary that the leadership of an organization hear their juniors with empathy and offer practical solutions.
- Have difficult conversations with kindness
How many people have been laid off globally, in the past few months? Tens of thousands? How many layoffs were carried out with kindness? Few? Don’t be a workplace that decides to fire their employees via cold emails. Have the conversation in person or over video call, empathize, suggest solutions, and express support.
- Suggestion box
Keeping a suggestion box at the reception for all employees and customers. Ask them to drop suggestions on how to be kind to each other anonymously. Each month, read out a few suggestions from the box and let your employees/customers know the steps you will be taking to implement their suggestions. This could be your organization’s own monthly kindness ritual.
- Small spot bonuses
A small spot bonus is paid on the spot to employees for a specific result, or action. Though they are usually smaller than the annual bonus, they are popular with employees because they’re recurring in nature and serve as necessary validation for an employee’s specific behaviour.
- Emotional support system
Your company can also provide emotional support to employees by practising small acts of kindness. For example, Wegman’s store treats their employees with employee appreciation breakfast and coffee.
- Kindness to customers
There are many ways beyond the usual, to be kind to customers. For example, Chewy.com, a pet supplies company, sends flowers to customers who have recently lost a pet. An employee at Trader’s Joe’s gifted their customer flowers on a hard day. Your organization can find its own unique way!
- Be kind to freshers
Freshers have much to learn about the way things work at a workplace, especially if they’re fresh out of college. The biggest help you could do is to help them out, and be approachable enough for them to come to you for help. Remember, small kindness goes a long way.
- Kindness week
Organize a kindness week during which your organization decides to be kind to those outside of itself. This kindness could be expressed in ways ranging from serving on-the-house coffee to customers or by gathering woollens, blankets, books and notebooks among the poor.
- Be kind to yourself
Your happiness is your responsibility, even at the workplace. Be kind to yourself by packing healthy lunches, staying well-hydrated, setting healthy workplace boundaries and making the most of your lunch hour. As personal practice, you could also include being kind to one person at work each day. This will improve your own level of happiness.
- Employee’s mental health
Individuals find mental health support to be expensive. This is where organizations can step in to support the mental health and wellness of their employees. Manah Wellness offers a range of tools devised by experts. One such tool is Wellness Sessions which are 30-minute de-stressing sessions to enhance the mood, energy and efficiency of employees. You can pick from a range of tools at www.manahwellness.com