Why kindness in the workplace is more important than ever

Cassidy Jakovickas

May 15, 2024

I still remember how angry I felt when, at a previous job, someone irritatedly asked me to refill the toilet paper in the office restroom. Because I was in an administrative role, this person regularly demeaned and disrespected me. While thinking about this memory, I was inspired to write this article on why kindness is so essential to a healthy workplace.

Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, remote work, and the increasing demands of modern life, we all face unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty. These stressors can make us inclined to acting unkindly in the workplace.

By fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and compassion, you can not only improve your own well-being and that of your coworkers, but also positively impact productivity, job satisfaction, and overall success. 

The benefits of kindness in the workplace

Fostering kindness in the workplace has become more important than ever. Embracing a culture of kindness can bring numerous benefits to employees and the organization as a whole. From boosting employee morale and enhancing teamwork to promoting personal growth and improving customer satisfaction, the power of kindness should not be underestimated.

Improved employee morale

A 10-day experiment in 2010 showed that being kind improves our personal satisfaction with life. Demonstrating kindness in the workplace can significantly boost employee morale, leading to a more positive and uplifting work environment. This can result in increased job satisfaction and overall happiness among employees.

Enhanced teamwork and collaboration

Kindness fosters a sense of belonging and mutual respect among colleagues, which encourages them to work more effectively as a team. This can lead to better problem-solving, increased creativity, and more efficient collaboration. If you want to learn more about demonstrating kindness, you can read Slack’s list of etiquette tips.

Better mental health

According to the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, being generous and kind improves our own sense of well-being. Research like this shows that a supportive and empathetic work environment can contribute to better overall mental health and well-being for employees.

When employees feel supported and valued through acts of kindness, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. This can lead to higher productivity levels and improved performance.

Improved company reputation and employee retention

A company that promotes and practices kindness in the workplace is more likely to have a positive reputation, both internally and externally. A workplace culture that values kindness is more likely to retain its employees. People are more likely to stay in a job where they feel valued and respected, which can reduce turnover rates and save the company time and resources spent on hiring and training new staff.

Reduced workplace conflict

A 2010 study revealed how our small acts of kindness can inspire kindness in others. Demonstrating kindness at work can diffuse tension and resolve conflicts between colleagues, leading to a more harmonious work environment. By addressing issues with empathy and understanding, employees can reach resolutions more effectively and maintain a positive atmosphere.

Strengthened leadership

Leaders who demonstrate kindness and empathy are more likely to inspire trust and loyalty among their team members. This can lead to improved communication, greater alignment on goals, and a stronger sense of commitment to the organization’s success.

Encouraged personal and professional growth

A workplace that values kindness often creates an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable asking for help, seeking feedback, and taking risks. This can lead to personal and professional growth, as employees learn from one another and continuously improve their skills.

How to practice kindness in the workplace

Creating a workplace that values kindness and empathy is essential for promoting a positive and nurturing environment. By incorporating these actions into your daily interactions, you can foster strong relationships, enhance collaboration, and contribute to a happier and more successful work environment. 

  • Offer genuine compliments: Acknowledge your colleagues’ hard work, achievements, or skills by offering them sincere compliments. Recognizing their efforts can make them feel appreciated and motivated. Remember to be sincere, authentic, and specific when complimenting them about either the process or the impact of their actions.
  • Organize team-building activities: Plan activities that promote bonding, collaboration, and fun among team members. This could be a group lunch, team games, or volunteering together for a community cause. One team-building activity we’ve started at MBS Accountancy with a monthly book club that meets every month, and we plan to involve ourselves in community service very soon.
  • Practice active listening: When a colleague is speaking, give them your full attention and listen carefully without interrupting. This demonstrates respect and empathy, making them feel heard and valued.
  • Celebrate successes and milestones: Recognize the accomplishments of your coworkers by celebrating their successes, work anniversaries, or other milestones. This can be as simple as sending a congratulatory email or organizing a small celebration.
  • Be inclusive and respectful: Make an effort to include all coworkers in conversations, meetings, and social events. Ensure that everyone’s opinions are heard and respected, and avoid gossip or negative discussions about colleagues.
  • Offer constructive feedback: When providing feedback, focus on being helpful and specific, rather than critical or negative. Offer suggestions for improvement and highlight the positives as well.
  • Practice gratitude: Make it a habit to express gratitude for the support, assistance, or kindness you receive from colleagues. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in creating a positive work environment. You can also provide support and motivation to colleagues who are facing challenges or feeling stressed. A simple “You can do it” or “I believe in you” can make a difference in someone’s day.
  • Be mindful of workload: Avoid overloading coworkers with tasks or unrealistic expectations. Be considerate of their time and workload, and communicate clearly about deadlines and priorities.
  • Show empathy during difficult times: Be supportive and understanding when colleagues face personal or professional challenges. Offer help, a listening ear, or even just a kind word to show that you care.

A little kindness has a big effect at work…

By implementing the practical tips mentioned above, you will not only enhance the work experience for your colleagues, but also create a more collaborative, productive, and positive environment. As you embrace and promote kindness in your workplace, you’ll witness a ripple effect that extends to every aspect of your organization, from improved employee morale to increased customer satisfaction. Remember, kindness is a powerful tool that can transform the workplace, fostering an atmosphere where everyone thrives and reaches their full potential.