Seven Simple Ways to Create a Kinder Office Environment
Kindness seems to be scarce these days. So much so, that a whopping 76 percent of respondents in a recent poll said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. This lack of kindness is prevalent in both our personal and professional lives. It’s especially pervasive in an office environment, where everyone is on a deadline, stressed about projects, and looking toward their next promotion. When we’re so focused on ourselves, it’s hard to be kind to one another.
Yet, being kind makes us happy. In a study published in the Journal of Psychology, researchers analyzed three groups of people who either had to perform acts of kindness, acts of loyalty or no acts at all for 10 days.
“Their life satisfaction was measured before and after the 10-day experiment. As expected, performing acts of kindness or acts of novelty resulted in an increase in life satisfaction,” according to the study abstract.
Surprisingly, kindness even trumps cash. A majority of respondents to a Season of Kindness poll choosing a kind boss over a 10% raise.
Combine kindness and novel experiences with various events and company initiatives to make your office environment a kinder place. Use these ideas to get started right away.
1. Start a Kindness Messaging Channel
If your company uses Slack, or another group message app, set up a channel for people to share their acts of kindness.
It’s a simple way to bring awareness and kindness into the office environment and an easy option to engage employees in company-wide contests or activities.
2. Host a Random Acts of Kindness Contest
Motivate people to be kinder with a contest. Make it easy to facilitate by using an app like The Great Kindness Challenge. While designed for schools, it provides your employees with an easy way to find kind acts and track how well they’re doing.
You can also do this manually, where employees track their kindness in a shared Google Sheet. At your annual party, the person who’s logged the most acts of kindness gets the Kindness Award and maybe even a prize.
3. Anticipate Each Other’s Needs
This is important for leadership to remember: “When employees go on maternity leave, work seven straight days on an international trip or outgrow their positions, pay attention to their needs and initiate appropriate action,” says Andy Burness, founder of a mission-driven, global communications organization.
Burness continues, “Slow reaction time leads employees to question their value and provides an excuse for disgruntled behavior.”
Employees can follow suit, anticipating the needs of their co-workers whenever possible.
4. Log More Face-to-Face Time
It’s easy to criticize someone or send harsh feedback via email. It’s harder to be unkind during a face-to-face conversation.
A simple way to encourage this in the office is to encourage feedback to be shared in person, rather than via email or messaging app.
5. Prioritize Volunteering
More businesses are making philanthropy an important part of their company culture. It involves your company in the community while getting your employees out of the office for an afternoon or day.
Add annual or bi-annual group volunteering events to the company calendar. Then give employees one workday a year to take part in their volunteering event of choice.
6. Keep Competitions Friendly
Gamification—setting goals, using rewards, and leveling up—is quickly becoming a popular tool for businesses. Unfortunately, 70 percent of employees feel this can be demoralizing rather than motivating or inspiring.
Instead, focus on setting individual goals that highlight employees’ strengths. This allows everyone to provide maximum value to the company and feel good about their work.
7. Take Time to Listen
While not everyone needs to be in your weekly marketing meeting, for example, everyone who spends time working on marketing-focused duties should be. This allows everyone to be heard—even interns and entry-level employees who may not work on higher-level projects.
Taking time to listen to your team members and provide them with a safe environment to express their opinions naturally makes the office environment a kinder place.