I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. And how a small, kind gesture can make such a mammoth difference to someone’s life. Most of us are kind to our family and friends – what do we need to do to be more kind at work?

Being kind is one of easiest things we can do, and it can have life‑changing consequences. Kindness doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive or time-consuming.

Kind is possibly my favourite four-letter word. I feel as we become “busier” we are becoming less kind. If you’re wondering, busy is my least favourite four-letter word!

Busy is the enemy of kind. #thisconnectedlife Click To Tweet

I’ve been reminded again this week that there are times in our lives when the world can be incredibly kind – when we’re struggling, when we’re celebrating, when little things make life hard.

kind at work

I’m so very grateful to have been the recipient of many acts of kindness throughout my life so far:

When my parents died, when I was housebound after melanoma surgery, when we’re away and our neighbours look after our chickens, when a stranger offers me a seat on the train, when door is held open for me and so many more small and large gestures.

Kindness is so prevalent in the personal worlds of so many of us, that it makes me wonder why it’s not as common in the business world.

Don’t businesses and their leaders realise that when you are kind to people, they want to do more for you? Whether it’s your workforce, customers or investors.

Being kind doesn't need to be expensive or time-consuming - often it's the smallest kindnesses that mean the most #thisconnectedlife Click To Tweet

The number one quality of a connectable leader has is kindness. It can be as simple as the time the CEO of my first job (reception desk duties in an office in Sydney in the late 80s) brought me a coffee. My main duty was to answer the constantly ringing phone and transfer calls to the relevant person.

On my second day there the phone was going crazy, so he brought me a coffee. When I asked “Why did you do that? I should be getting you coffee”, he said, “you looked like you needed one!”. It was such a simple kindness and it really set the tone for what I expected from future leaders in my life.

The beauty of kindness is that is doesn’t always need to cost us money. Or really very much time. A kind act can be as simple as offering a glass of water to a customer who looks a bit hot! Or saying congratulations to a colleague when they announce their promotion on LinkedIn.

What would happen if we started to measure the number of kind deeds transacted?

How many of us would be able to say, hand on heart, that we are a success? And think about the flow-on impact. I know I seek out the businesses that have shown me kindness. I WANT them to have my money. And I tell people about them. Their kindnesses show they value me. It’s not rocket science!

It won’t surprise you to learn how THRILLED I was to hear that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern recently announced New Zealand would now have a well-being budget, that places an emphasis on kindness and empathy. During a discussion at the World Economic Forum recently she said: “We need to address the societal well-being of our nation, not just the economic well-being”.

What does this mean? In simple terms it means that from this year, 2019, the New Zealand government will present a “well-being budget” to gauge the long-term impact of policy on the quality of people’s lives.

Jacinda went on to say “We need to try and build trust back into our institutions again, no matter where we are in the world … if you start looking at politics through a lens of kindness, empathy, well-being, then it doesn’t matter what happens over a political cycle, it’s what happens over decades”.

If governments can do this, why can’t we do it in business?

It shouldn’t surprise you to know that research shows leaders and organisations that are kind to their employees have employees who stay longer, work harder and are more committed to the organisation.

It also shouldn’t surprise you, that when you are kind to your staff that kindness flows out and onto their colleagues, their families, your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

What impact do you think including a kindness metric in your key performance indicators might have on your people and your business? #thisconnectedlife Click To Tweet

What would happen if you included a kindness metric in your key performance indicators or your strategic goals? What impact do you think that might have on your people and your business?

Kindness at work isn’t only about the warm fuzzies it generates. Kindness at work can improve job performance, lengthen employee tenure and reduce absences. According to Emma Seppala, associate director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, “when organisations promote an ethic of compassion rather than a culture of stress, they may not only see a happier workplace (since a lack of bonding within the workplace has been shown to increase psychological distress, while positive social interactions at work have been shown to boost employee health), but also an improved bottom line.”

How can you start a kindness revolution at work?

A few things you can do are: 

  • Ask people how they are and actually listen to their reply
  • Say good morning and / or good night when you arrive and leave each day
  • Bring in baked goods to share
  • Have a kindness board – where people can share kind things others have done for them
  • Say thank you – to your team, colleagues, suppliers and customers
  • Help out a colleague when they are stuck on a piece of work
  • Spend time getting to know new staff members
  • Buy a coffee or make a cup of tea for a co-worker
  • Don’t yell at people when they make a mistake
  • Give a compliment to a co-worker
  • Focus on the strengths your colleagues bring to work, not their weaknesses

What are you doing to be kind? And what are some of the small meaningful ways people have been kind to you?

I’d love to know. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #thisconnectedlife and tagging me @melkettle

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Mel Kettle is all about connection, communication and collaboration. She works with CEOs, leaders and teams to help them better communicate and collaborate (online AND offline) to achieve better relationships, revenue and results. Mel is a facilitator, trainer, speaker, author and mentor who provides practical advice that achieves results while having some fun!

Download her latest whitepaper, The Social CEO – from invisible to influencer or order a signed copy of her book, The Social Association. To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or call her on 0404 600 889.

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