Throughout this week, we’ve been emphasizing the importance of showing kindness in your everyday life. If the hardships of the past year have shown us anything, it’s the importance of a positive mindset, and sharing that positivity with others. A little kindness can go a long way, especially when the world feels like it’s turned upside down. According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, here’s how these small acts of kindness can affect not only the people you interact with, but your own physical and mental health:

  • Reduce blood pressure: Acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin that helps lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce pain: Kindness produces endorphins, which are the brain’s natural pain killer.
  • Reduce isolation: It encourages human contact.
  • Reduce anxiety: Kindness can lift our mood by stimulating serotonin production.
  • Reduce stress: Kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone).

Showing Kindness at Work

Knowing that performing acts of kindness can reduce stress and anxiety is a powerful tool. According to a study by the Marlin Company and the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, and almost half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. In addition, 42% say their coworkers need help managing stress. With workplace stress being so prevalent, it’s even more important to remember to always be kind at the office (even the virtual office). Here are some tips from Work Psychology Group on performing small acts of kindness in the workplace and how it can lead to a more inclusive and positive environment.

    1. Be a feeder!
      Bringing snacks for the office is always appreciated!
    2. Say ‘Thank you’ – and mean it!
      Show your gratitude by thanking a colleague for a job well done in-person or send them an email they can reread when they need a little positivity. Consider letting their boss know too so their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
    3. Give a compliment!
      A compliment can leave a lasting impression on those on the receiving end. Focus on personal qualities or workplace achievements rather than less meaningful aspects such as appearance.
    4. Actively listen to your colleague.
      Give your complete, intentional focus to what someone is saying (not just waiting until they are done speaking so you can have your turn). Active listening shows respect and is important for strong workplace relationships and productivity.
    5. Spread messages of kindness everywhere!
      Jot down a few positive, feel-good messages you’d like to read yourself and share them around your workplace for your co-workers to see. You can find some examples here!

Creating a culture of gratitude

Kindness in the workplace is important no matter where it’s coming from. If you’re in a position of leadership, one of the most meaningful acts of kindness is showing appreciation for your employees. Research on gratitude and appreciation shows that when employees feel valued, they have high job satisfaction, are more motivated, have higher productivity, and are less likely to search for new jobs. In a recent interview, Google CEO Larry Page states, “My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society.” This is a good mindset to have as you consider the well-being of your team.

Showing gratitude is easily achieved to improve the morale of your team. Here are a few ideas from the Harvard Business Review that you can implement:

1. Create a kudos board:
Even if you’re not in a physical office anymore, many companies have an internal communication tool that can be used to share announcements across the company. Turn this tool into a way to give shout-outs and compliments to teammates.

2. Celebrate peer milestones:
Is your team is celebrating the completion of a big project, or an employee’s birthday or work anniversary? Celebrate these wins and special days together.

3. Integrate peer recognition into daily rituals:
Encourage employees to share their gratitude for others so that it becomes ingratiated into the company culture. Perhaps this means ending meetings with a round-robin to highlight a positive moment or action that deserves recognition, or simply posting on the internal communications board with a shout-out or note of gratitude.

4. Encourage peers to build meaningful connections:
In addition to celebrating milestones and special days, fostering an environment of recognition and active listening can build a sense of community across a company.

5. End the week by sharing one way a teammate helped another:
During your Friday morning meeting, encourage each team member to highlight one thing that the group or individual did to help them that week. Ending your week on a high note makes a big difference especially during times of high stress.