The pandemic reminded us how quickly disease – plus stress, anxiety and pessimism – can spread. But it’s not only negative things that can spread quickly. Kindness and generosity can be positive contagions at work and in life.
Research shows the key to spreading kindness is through acts of goodness. And this cycle of goodness isn’t only for communities or personal lives; it can also be implemented into the workplace.
How the goodness cycle happens
Sayings like “one good act deserves another” and “one kind act will always create another” are popular, but these sayings are more than stickers on walls: They have behavioral science behind them.
Multiple studies have shown that when one person performs a kind act, the recipient is more likely to perform a kind act of his or her own for someone else. One study shows how one act of kindness has a cascading effect, as the recipient does a kind act for someone in his or her social network, then that recipient does another kind act, then so on and so on.
Another study in The Journal of Social Psychology showed that people who spend their money on others are actually happier than those who spend money on themselves. Giving of ourselves – our time, our money, or even simply our listening ear – makes us happier, which, in turn, makes us more likely to give of ourselves again.
When people perform acts of kindness, both they and recipients are buoyed up, reaching new levels of happiness. Then, because of their higher happiness levels, both giver and receiver are more likely to be kind in the future.
Just like the pandemic, kindness can spread easily and quickly, spreading feelings of joy and happiness.
Importance of kindness at work
Because people spend a majority of their waking time at work with other people, they can spread kindness and happiness there. This isn’t just a good thought that doesn’t produce a ROI. Kindness and acts of goodness can actually transform a business. Here are some of the benefits:
- Kindness can increase productivity and satisfaction. Employees who are respectful and kind to each other have 26% more energy, 36% more satisfaction with their work, and 44% more commitment to their organization.
- Kindness can make people healthier. When employees feel safe and secure in their work relationships, they can enjoy lower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and stronger immune responses. That means lower absenteeism and fewer sick days.
- Kindness can produce higher-quality work. When employees feel happy and satisfied at work, they are more creative.
- Kindness can lower stress levels and increase engagement. A culture of comfort and happiness can increase engagement levels while a culture of fear and pressure does the opposite.
- Kindness makes everyone happier. When leaders are happy, that trickles down to happier employees. And when employees are happy, they’re more willing to put in extra effort and help those around them.
Creating a culture of kindness, service and gratitude can provide a ROI for any company in any industry. But how do you build it into the culture?
How to inject kindness into work
One of the best things about the goodness cycle is that it doesn’t take much to get started. Acts of service and kindness don’t need to be big or expensive in order to benefit companies. Here are three ways to start spreading kindness in a workplace.
- Greet with a smile. A typical adult only smiles 20 times a day, compared to children who smile an average of 400 times a day. Smiling can actually boost a person’s mood, reduce blood pressure, increase endurance and reduce pain and stress. A smile is also contagious. When someone smiles, the person they’re smiling at has a natural inclination to smile, which gives them the same benefits listed above.
- Encourage employee recognition. When employees are recognized, they feel more valued and appreciated. And when employees feel more valued and appreciated, they are more motivated to do their best work, more engaged and more loyal to the company. More than 80% of employees agree that recognition improves their experience, relationships, engagement and happiness at work. Recognition can be anything from giving employees a personalized gift, to saying “thank you” after a job well done, to a public recognition for a birthday.
- Treat employees as individuals. Employees are people with lives outside of work. When leaders treat them like individuals with lives and interests and struggles, employees will feel more supported and cared for. A great way to do this is by offering flexible work arrangements. Whether that means a hybrid in-office/work-from-home schedule or flexible PTO rules, this flexibility can improve an employee’s work/life balance, which increases happiness.
Implement the goodness cycle
Simple acts of goodness and kindness improve the mood and health of those who are involved. Those feelings are then easily spread to everyone else.
For example, Awardco has implemented the Goodness Cycle in with Goodness Grants, an award given to one employee each month ($1,000 no strings attached!) for doing good and helping the people around them. We accept submissions from around the world, and we’ve already seen goodness and kindness spreading because of it.
While not every organization can do something to this scale, the principle remains the same: recognizing the good around us and encouraging goodness in everything we do will go a long way to improve the world where we live.