How You Can Create A Culture Of Kindness In Your Workplace

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Creating a culture of kindness in the workplace will reward you with a happier, more motivated and committed team – and ultimately, more success.

Do we enforce kindness more in children than we do in adults? The phenomenon of incivility – what Acas terms ‘minor but persistent negative behavior, such as rudeness, disrespect and lack of consideration for others’ – seems to be a lot more permissible in the workplace than it does in schools.

The practice of being kind is so often expected of young people. At our school, we go so far as to build kindness into the curriculum, routinely emphasizing its practice throughout the school year. In the workplace, however, incivility is reportedly on the rise, with 1/3 of the workforce having been bullied at work, according to solicitors Slater and Gordon.

Workplace rudeness can take its toll on employees in a variety of ways. There are the mental health implications of course, as impolite colleagues can contribute to raised stress levels – but employee performance can also be impacted. Companies suffer from reduced output and a far lower degree of commitment to the company – hardly something businesses can afford at a time when staff retention and productivity are greater challenges than ever.

We emphasize being kind in school because a culture of kindness makes for happier, more energetic and more collaborative people – all key factors in a well-performing school and business.

At school, kindness is nurtured from an early age. Positive behavior is rewarded, and rude behavior is not accepted. How can we expect children to practice these values if they are not emphasized from the earliest stages?

It is much the same at work. How can you expect your culture of kindness to flourish if it’s not established from the moment your new recruits walk through the door? As part of the induction process employees should learn the culture of the organization and know that kindness and collaboration are valued.

Choose The Right Leaders

When you put someone in a leadership position, you’re sending the message to other employees that you have to be like this person to become successful. Leaders need to exemplify your brand, your values, and your practices – much like a school prefect.

If your leaders treat employees curtly, set unrealistic expectations or behave dismissively, then don’t expect the rest of your employees to behave any differently. As Doug Conant notes in his book on leadership, TouchPoints, “Leadership is all about people. The way we treat others will determine our success or failure”.

Note, however, that kindness doesn’t mean that high standards don’t need to be met – it’s not an opportunity for employees to slack off or underperform. Rather, leading with kindness means you will likely find employees are more eager to please and to work together to reach targets, as they are being motivated through positivity rather than fear.

Nobody is the antagonist in their own narrative. People often have some internal reasoning to justify their uncivil behavior. Therefore, a bit of self-reflection is needed to understand what constitutes kind behavior.

Ask yourself whether the consequences of your behavior are acceptable. It can be helpful to consider questions like, “how will my behavior make the person feel?”, “would I be happy if someone spoke to a close family member this way?” and “do I make my colleague feel comfortable to share a mistake or challenge with me?”. If the answer is no, then you’ve got some kindness homework to do.

There’s no question that creating a culture of kindness takes time. However hard work, persistence, and continual reinforcement will ensure that you are rewarded for your efforts with a happier, more motivated and committed team – and ultimately, a more successful business.



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