This week is international kindness week, and there’s one place that kindness is often overlooked: the office. While we are at work, we are often more concerned with productivity than satisfaction, and professionalism that often translates to a decrease in personalization. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, happiness can increase productivity by 31%, as well as making employees three times more creative.
Increasing happiness sounds like something that should come from the top—restructured work days or more positive feedback from boss to employee. But there are ways to create a happier environment around yourself while at work, no matter your position in the company. Here are some ways you can contribute with random acts of kindness.
Lend a Hand: All Girl Scouts are taught to leave a space cleaner than they found it. Implementing this in the break room or conference room is a nice way to take pride in your space as well as respecting the others that come to use it after you. Even if there is a full-time cleaning person, simply wiping down the table or collecting up discarded papers at the end of a meeting can be helpful. If your break room has a coffee maker, make a fresh pot when it’s running low. Wipe down the microwave or offer to clean out the fridge.
Make the Professional Personal Again: Greet your co-workers or employees by name. If you’re in a building with a doorman or security guard, learn their names as well. Is there an intern that delivers your mail but you have no idea who they are? Ask next time they stop in. Is there someone you always pass as your handing off your shift? Tell them to have a nice day. Did a coworker go out of their way to help you with something? Thank them in person instead of shooting off a quick email. Even the smallest acts, like smiling, saying thank you, or holding the elevator door for someone, can have a huge impact.
Turning the Negative into Positive: There’s always that one person you dread seeing at work. Unless there’s a good reason not to, try being nice to that person in one of the simple ways listed above. Let go of a grudge just for one day, then maybe for two. Keep going. It may change your entire relationship.
Maximum Kindness: If you are in a management position, there may be even bigger ways to promote kindness in the workplace while take part in random acts yourself. You could organize a blood drive or a collection for a local charity. You could build a small library of books for your employees to share and encourage them to add to it. If you want to go all out, organize a party or another kind of surprise/treat for the whole staff.
Add Kindness to the Workplace all Year Round: While this is international kindness week, that doesn’t mean you have to limit your random acts. Create a Random Acts of Kindness bulletin board where people can share acts that made them smile or feel good. You could volunteer to keep the charity train going all year long, with a different cause each month. As soon as things start feeling forced, though, the kindness effect will wear off and it will feel like just another task for an employee, so remember to keep these random acts fun and easy.
What ways will you make kindness a priority in your workplace this week?