A look at kindness, how it can benefit mental health in the workplace, and some tips for developing a kindness culture at work.

How often have you heard someone describe those they work with as ‘like a family’?  When you think about it, this isn’t such a strange description.  The first part of the word kindness is ‘kin’ which can either relate to a person’s relatives or a group with similar characteristics.  And being ‘of a kind’ or ‘in kinship’ with others, suggests a motivation to work together and be caring and thoughtful.  So, kindness can evoke feelings of cooperation and companionship to achieve a shared aim with positive results and benefits for both the organisation and individuals involved.

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”

William Arthur Ward

So, what is kindness?

Kindness is defined as the practice of being kind and performing a considerate, thoughtful, or caring action.

Kindness can be a catalyst

When kindness is shown to someone at work, research has found that it is then paid back, and often, not only to the person who bestowed the act of kindness. This could be one of the reasons why a kinder workplace culture often leads to lower staff turnover rates and higher productivity and efficiency. In addition, individuals who choose to practice kindness, to themselves and others, often find it supports and protects their own wellbeing and mental health in the workplace.

Benefits of a kinder workplace culture

Improves self-worth: being recognised, a simple ‘well done’ for a completed task, or having a compliment paid can boost self-esteem, provide feelings of fulfilment, and generate positive emotions.
Increased job satisfaction: it is well documented that giving to others improves our own wellbeing by bringing happiness and meaning to our life.  By practising kindness with our colleagues, we can feel we are making a difference at work which, in turn, can lead to an increase in our own job satisfaction.
Enhances positive relationships: people are often surprised at the happiness they feel when they give a compliment to others.  Giving an honest compliment requires us to really focus on another person – their behaviour, feelings, thoughts, and personality.  This process can lead to feeling more connected to that person and enhances social connections, which is a vital element of our own wellbeing and happiness.

Tips for bringing kindness into the workplace, even if it is virtual

Lead by example – if team members receive praise regularly from their manager, they are more likely to follow that lead and be more complimentary to their team and colleagues, leading to a kinder team spirit overall.
Change the subject – if a conversation is becoming negative on a personal level, try to add something positive or change the subject.
Think about language – aim to be kind with the words you use and the way you deliver them as you do not know what is going on in the lives of others, or what they may be dealing with.
Show interest – try to include a daily interaction with a colleague during which you talk about something other than work.  You could share something with each other that people do not already know (always remembering that kindness involves the perception of others and what we intend or perceive as an act of kindness may not be seen as such by the recipient).
Help create inclusion – seek the opinions of those team members who haven’t contributed to a piece of decision making or ask questions of someone you don’t agree with and then listen to their answers with an open mind, perhaps prompting you to utter that well underused phrase “I hadn’t thought about it like that”!

Kindness is a gift that everyone can afford to give, so start giving today to improve your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you.

Talk to BHL Coaching about their affordable wellbeing workshops for you & your staff, as wellbeing strategies should be available to us ALL!Prices start from $500