Last week, on February 17, we celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Day, founded in 1995 by the foundation of the same name. Its mission is to make kindness a norm. Why is this ‘touchy feely’ day so important to your business? It’s because spreading kindness not only helps others feel better about themselves, it can also boost health and happiness for giver and recipient. And you just have to know that boosting these will have a pretty nice impact on your business’ productivity.
The Workforce Institute of the UK studied 3400 business mid-level managers across 10 countries over several years; the results were startling:
According to 69% of people surveyed, their managers had the greatest impact on their mental health, on par with the impact of their partner. And this was more than the impact of their doctor (51%) or therapist (41%).
You can see a sampling of the results here:
- 69% – their leader had the greatest impact on their mental health – more than their dr. or therap
- 43% – are exhausted
- 78% – stress negatively impacts their work performance.
- 71% – work stress negatively affects their home life
- 64% – it detracts from their wellbeing
- 62% – it degrades their personal relationships
On the other hand:
- 63% said positive mental attitude increases their work commitment
- 80% said it energizes them for improved productivity.
So, you can see why random acts of kindness can have such a powerful impact for your business. From a scientific perspective, putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return — or being altruistic — stimulates the reward centers of the brain, studies show.
“Feel-good’ chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of “helper’s high.” Volunteering, for example, has been shown to minimize stress and relieve depression.
That’s not all: The same activity can also help us live longer. One reason for this, experts say, is because kindness contributes to our sense of community and belonging. And that is a key contributor to a healthy, longer life.
In the UK study, researchers found that being kind could boost happiness in as little as three days. The study assigned people to three groups: The first group had to do an act of kindness each day; the second tried a new activity, and the third did nothing. Those who were kind and did novel things saw a significant boost in happiness.
You’ll experience even greater joy if you’re creative with your acts of kindness. Happiness researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky and Kennon Sheldon found that people who did a variety of acts of kindness throughout the week showed greater increases in happiness than those who performed the same activity over and over again.
It doesn’t matter if these acts of kindness can be anonymous or visible, spontaneous or planned, and can be as simple as giving a compliment or opening a door for someone. And, as you read above, all of this positivity will have big impact for your business.
What does your team do to inspire these random acts when no one is looking? Ask peers to participate this month and perform these acts anonymously or by recognizing someone who has gone above & beyond.
Spreading kindness doesn’t have to be complicated and here are some suggestions, none of which need an official holiday to be effective, both for your team and your business:
- Help a team member with a difficult or unpleasant task without being asked.
- Leave their favorite treat or soft drink on their desk.
- Tell the boss about something positive that a colleague has recently done.
- Be cheerful and smile at everyone you pass in the corridors of the office building.
- Send a quick message to a team member saying you appreciate their help.
- Put a nice comment on sticky note and leave it on their desk.
- Give a genuine recommendation to a colleague on their LinkedIn profile.
- Ask about their weekend plans or how their family is doing.
- Bake or bring treats to share in the office.
- Interject with a positive comment when others are gossiping.
- Pay a sincere compliment to your boss.
- Organize a work charity event.
- Offer to help a colleague carry something if they are struggling.
- Give a co-worker a book on a topic that interests him or her.
- Help new starters feel more at home.
- Offer to do the brew or sandwich run.
- Recognize employment milestones: longevity, attendance, loyalty.
- Leave anonymous gifts of flowers, gift cards.
- Invite someone to join you for lunch.
- Rotate a monthly donation to an employee’s charity of choice.
- Organize a volunteer day.
- Make a meaningful introduction.
- Clean the office microwave or fridge.
- Give someone a break.
- Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break.
That last is our favorite; a little extra kindness to yourself will go a long way to making the habit stick far beyond a holiday.