During long, busy workdays, completing tasks quickly and efficiently is our primary goal. In striving to do so, we can often be unintentionally unkind to others. Perhaps we ignore a question or brush someone off in the name of “getting it done.”
This is pervasive in every area of our life. In fact, in a recent kindness survey respondents rated our society as a 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 10 for being kind. An attitude like this is especially impactful in the office, where tensions already run high and deadlines need to be met.
Yet being kind to others reduces stress. According to a 2015 study by Yale and UCLA, people who performed more acts of kindness had a better response to stress, while showing no dips in positive emotions and overall mental health.
Here’s how to recognize if kindness is missing in your office culture and the steps to take to integrate it into the everyday routine.
Make more time for face-to-face interactions
Technology is a key component in the workplace for most industries. Since we use it from the beginning of the workday until the end, it’s affected the way we communicate with one another. Face-to-face interaction is an afterthought when you can simply send a quick email to a coworker a few floors down.
While it is efficient, technology can lead to misinterpretation of tone of voice or attitude. So much so, Hubspot reports 77 percent of professionals prefer meeting face-to-face in order to read body language and facial expressions. While it’s easier to provide critical feedback to someone when you’re not looking at them, a lot can get lost in translation. It’s easy to misinterpret tone and intentions when you’re not looking at someone or hearing the rise and fall of their voice.
Integrate it: In-person meetings can be lengthy and there’s much discussion about how much time is wasted in meetings. But they can also increase kindness in your office. Encourage employees to turn at least one email into a face-to-face meeting each week, if not more.
Set the bar high
We all know the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated. It’s important for leaders to establish this mindset from the beginning of the hiring process. If you’re onboarding new employees and they come into an environment that is welcoming, kind and encouraging, they’re likely to act that way moving forward.
Integrate it: While it might be hard to shift the entire office culture in a few short weeks, implementing these small steps will make a difference:
- Give new hires a small first-day gift. Customize it based on what you learned about them during the hiring process. This can be as simple as a branded company mug with a few bags of tea inside.
- Require that everyone use compliment sandwiches when providing feedback: compliment, critical remark and compliment.
- Encourage employees to regularly applaud their peers when they do something great. It’s quick and easy if you use a messaging or group chat tool in your office, and everyone in the company sees it.
Keep competitions friendly
The workplace is a breeding ground for competition and a little bit of it can significantly increase motivation among employees. However, competition can quickly lead to a hostile work environment, where people are anything but kind to one another.
Companies often encourage competition among employees and reward top performers as a recognition strategy. But if employees are tearing one another down just to get ahead, you need to refocus. In fact, according to Globoforce, 70 percent of employees feel gamification is not a positive addition to recognition.
Integrate it: If you want to motivate employees, consider setting personal goals for each one of them—eliminating the opportunity for hateful interactions. This allows you to focus on everyone’s individual strengths and talents, improving both your morale and kindness quotient.
One of the easiest ways to start the process of creating a kinder office culture is to schedule organized team bonding activities. When people have a chance to relax and get to know each other, work friendships will likely form. This is important because close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent. Friends are more likely to be kind to one another, making it an effective method for improving overall kindness.
Fun “bonding” ideas include:
- Schedule an office happy hour for the last hour of the workday every Friday.
- Have a potluck once a month for employee birthdays.
- Form a company kickball or softball team. If employees have other interests, help them facilitate groups.
- Host in-office events for employees to learn together. Bring in a personal trainer, motivational speaker, chef and more.
Don’t forget to take suggestions from employees for group activities. They’re only valuable if employees want to take part – otherwise it’s just another thing they have to get done.
About the Author:
Caroline Davis is very familiar with the startup environment, where kindness is imperative and everyone plays a role in managing culture. As an avid writer, she’s written for publications such as Rismedia and Lifezette about topics ranging from office life to marketing. Check out some of her latest work at CarpeDaily.com.
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