How Kindness Can be a Tool for Productivity in the Workplace

Sarah Hood

Caring and compassion offer employee engagement and health benefits Kindness in the workplace has sometimes been perceived as weakness. But top management thinkers are beginning …

Caring and compassion offer employee engagement and health benefits

Act of Kindness at work Kindness in the workplace has sometimes been perceived as weakness. But top management thinkers are beginning to tout it as an overlooked tool for productivity—and scientific evidence supports their view. It seems that a culture of caring and compassion can build employee engagement, reduce staff down time and even keep us all healthier!

Kindness at work starts with taking a look at your corporate culture. Is your workplace the kind where supervisors routinely say thank you and let people know when they’ve done a good job? Does it encourage collegiality and discourage negative gossiping? Do employees feel safe to offer suggestions, and are their good ideas heard, acknowledged and sometimes implemented?

But acts of kindness at work can take innumerable forms—from an unexpected treat to an offer to share an unpopular task to anti-bullying policies. And, no matter how it’s composed, a culture of kindness can apparently improve employee engagement. In a 2015 article titled ”Is Kindness the Missing Link to Employee Performance?”, research and organizational development specialist Dan Schwartz advises workers to “be kind to your fellow employees and commit random acts of kindness to decrease stress in the workplace and increase productivity.”

Schwartz isn’t talking fairy dust and unicorn magic; he cites an international Forbes study that establishes “a positive correlation between high stress and low employee engagement” and finds that “highly stressed employees took nearly twice as many sick days as low-stress employees”.

When you consider that a recent Circadian report estimates that addressing absenteeism can save “a company of 5,000 hourly employees … over $7.9 million per year, or 3.2% of total payroll”, buying the occasional cup of coffee or bunch of flowers starts to look like a pretty good investment.

The CanadaOne article “Kindness as a Superior Approach to Human Resources Management” identifies 3 ways for a leader to look at workplace kindness: within the community (community service and charity work), with colleagues (including “activities designed to eliminate racism and sexual harassment”), and with oneself. This third item is especially interesting; it turns out that performing an act of kindness actually has physiological effects on the good-deed-doer that can protect their health.

Employees and their leaders alike often have trouble balancing self-care with workplace productivity, but the two go hand-in-hand. In his article ”The 5 Side Effects of Kindness”, David Hamilton (author of Why Kindness is Good for You and The Contagious Power of Thinking) explains how this works.

When we do something kind or generous, he writes, the levels of dopamine in the brain are elevated, which makes us feel good. But beyond that, the “emotional warmth” that accompanies a caring action produces a hormone called oxytocin that can reduce blood pressure and decrease levels of damaging free radicals and inflammation. It also stimulates the action of the vagus nerve, which similarly affects heart rate and inflammation levels. So, it seems, kind deeds can actually protect your heart and slow the effects of aging.

There was a time when many managers believed that keeping employees under constant stress was the way to get the most work out of them. We know better now, and science bears out the idea that creating a culture of kindness is an effective way to improve productivity. And it feels a lot better too.

Do you have a great example of kindness in the workplace? Please tell us about it! Thanks for reading don’t forget to share/tweet/like our blog just underneath this paragraph. And don’t forget, we’re always here to help with your business efficiency needs.

Thanks For Sharing!

Photo of author

Sarah B. Hood is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She writes well researched, fresh and engaging articles on news and lifestyle topics like food, culture, design, urban life, environment and travel.

SLAY Project Management

Online Course

5 Sections and 24 step-by-step HOW TO Videos! The only 5-hour on-line course that teaches you the PRACTICAL side of project management. This course will guide you step-by-step on HOW to successfully run a project and provides you with all the templates and tips you need to be successful.

Fab 5 Fundamentals

Free Training

Are you striving for successful projects, but get overwhelmed figuring out what elements of project management to focus on for the best results? In the Fab Five Fundamentals of Project Management, you’ll learn the five things you need to do on EVERY project to bring it to success.

Why Projects Fail?

Free Download

If you're new to projects or need a refresher, here's a guide of all the things I learned during my journey. Project success is about knowing how to navigate and stay clear of roadblocks, issues and problems. Understand the top 10 reasons why projects fail and how to avoid them.

Interested In Working Together?

We are business productivity experts. Contact us to learn how we can help your business become more efficient and increase profitability.

Join Our Newsletter

Join over 50,000 subscribers. Get the latest and the best in project management information delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow Us