Bah Humbug you say? Are you a Scrooge or Santa when it comes to Kindness at work?

Posted December 5, 2017 in Latest News & Insights

Guest blog post by Spread the Kindness Advocate Steffi Black

“We treat our people like royalty. If you honor and serve the people who work for you, they will honor and serve you.”— Mary Kay Ash

Yes, we often hear words like kind and caring in relation to charitable work or how you should act in your own community and family, but how many workplaces lead with kindness as pink-loving entrepreneurial powerhouse Mary Kay did? Not enough in my opinion.

Kindness is not just a soft and sweet way to be. It’s a necessity in our society especially when we hear about anxiety and stress being higher than ever. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, “one in four Canadians (25%) will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime.” Perhaps, it’s the time to bring  this warm character trait into the office to help combat the loneliness, pain and pressure of simply surviving in our hectic modern age. We spend much of our waking lives at work, and the boss who uses the approach of  ‘my way or the highway’ may be an unnecessary relic of autocratic leadership. According to the work of Emma Seppala, the Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education “Tough” managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. What it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.”

Achieve. Lead. Create. All-important words in our competitive business lexicon but let us not underestimate the power of kindness to create a warmer and even a more productive workplace. It was inherent in the gentle but powerful leadership of Ghandi, in Nelson Mandela, and in the leadership of mentally handicapped advocate Jean Vanier. I would also say that it was included in the leadership of former Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz who vowed to hire ’10,000 veterans over ten years’ and put a disadvantaged population to work and school without expecting anything in return for helping them. Canada’s own Isadore Sharp, of the Four Seasons empire, followed the Golden Rule in how his employees were treated. He valued each person in the company and encouraged managers to make sure their voices were heard.

It’s true that we all like the perks and flexibility that are offered by many workplaces – working from home, bonus days off and, sure, the fully-stocked employee fridge is a welcome courtesy to unwind with co-workers on a Friday afternoon – but does it truly create a nicer environment to work at? Not like a caring and compassionate environment does. Seppela went on to share in her article The Hard Data of Being a nice boss, …what may come as a surprise to many HR directors, employees prefer happiness to high pay, as Gallup’s 2013 Workplace Poll shows. In turn, happier employees make not only for a more congenial workplace, but also for improved collegiality and customer service.’

Making it Happen: Can your workplace take the steps?

We have access to so many resources on the internet. There are kindness trees, kindness calendars and many options for workplace plans. I present and give workshops on creating your own workplace plan, but, to help it stick, it’s important that the leadership demonstrates and believes in its power, and that it feature consistent action over a period of time. Word has it that it takes 66 days to cement a new habit so if you want to create a warmer workplace, take the time to plan the actions and keep the ones that make a lasting impact.

Leadership can also craft a vision statement that includes kindness in it or a core value that features it. Proudly display it all over the building and  ‘walk the talk’ by encouraging your employee managers to acknowledge caring behaviour and stop uncaring or mean attitudes towards others.

And, remember, it’s not ‘soft’ to be kind as many great leaders secretly know. Don’t mistake their kindness for weakness. Accountability and action is key and leadership can walk with both kindness and strength for they are truly powerful and natural partners.

Steffi Black, a former Global T.V. media personality, is a Life/Career Coach and Spread the Kindness Advocate. She presents and creates workplace plans on Why Kindness Matters at Your Workplace, and she’s always proud to partner with The Roundtable on bringing kindness into business.

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