Happy employees are better employees. As simple as this it’s often something that we forget as major deadlines loom, hours start to extend into the night, and people are popping onto their computers over the weekend.
People are willing to accept that this is part of the job… and indeed the idea of the 9-5 job is quickly disappearing. But at the same time, people will never respond well if they feel that they’re being exploited, or not appreciated. And that’s where the “random acts of kindness” idea comes into play. Introducing small acts of kindness into the company culture is something that requires minimal time or resourcing, but can have a substantial impact in improving morale and making each employee feel valued and engaged in the company itself.
Additionally, each kindness done within the company helps to build positivity, and that in turn helps boost both creativity and productivity, as people tackle their work with vigour and a “can-do” attitude.
These acts of kindness need to come from management, but as they become more standard, you’ll find employees will adopt the mindset themselves, and from that point it will be a self-fulfilling cycle of positive energy.
So, what acts of kindness are we talking about specifically?
1) Give praise
What better way to make a person feel appreciated than to complement the work that they’ve done? If someone’s pulled an all-nighter to get a project done, then wander over to their desk and congratulate them for it (and suggest they go home an hour or two early). If someone in the organisation has achieved something significant for a client, then send around a group email to highlight it as a job well done. Giving praise like this costs nothing, makes a person feel like their work has been ‘worth it,’ and lets the entire organisation know that if they’ve done something special, that it will be acknowledged.
2) Get to know people
Don’t be the boss that shuts themselves in their office and barely remembers the names of their own team. Make sure you drop into the break room and catch up with people when you can. Find out about a person’s hobbies or life outside of work, and then remember it for future conversations. Consider taking the team out to a working (or even social) lunch or evening activity every once in a while. Getting to know your team and people, and forging a personal connection to them, is the quickest way to make them feel like they matter to you, personally, as well as the organisation. This is especially true of new staff, who might be finding it difficult to feel comfortable in a room full of strangers.
3) Squash the first hint of a toxic culture
Don’t let rumours spread. Nothing develops a toxic culture within an organisation more quickly than people talking behind one another’s back. Be open and transparent to staff, and encourage them to come to you with problems, safe in the knowledge that there won’t be consequence for speaking their concerns to you. And at the slightest hint of bullying, racism, sexism, homophobia, or other discriminatory behaviour, refer it to HR team immediately. There should be a no-tolerance policy towards all of this, and the people that you’re supporting will appreciate it… as will the other people on the team that then know you’ll go to bat for them.
4) Make small gestures
You don’t need to make lavish gifts to your staff, but there are plenty of small things that you can do without breaking the budget. Keeping track of birthdays and buying a cake is essential. Going on a morning coffee run (especially on a Monday!) is always appreciated. If you know someone needs an evening off, then offer to step in with any work they’re struggling to get done. Small gestures that might not even register with the individual at first well, over time, build up a picture that they’re in a place that cares about their health, well-being, and happiness.
5) Give people the ability to give back to the community, or find some time for them to simply be creative
People generally like to give back to the community. Whether that be by giving blood to the Red Cross, volunteering at a charity, or contributing their skills on a pro bono basis to others. Encourage this within your own teams. Give them time during the day to volunteer at their charity, and trust that they’ll make up that time over the rest of the week. Allow them to use company resources for their pro bono work.
Additionally, consider setting time aside once a month so that the entire organisation can work on whatever projects interest them, rather than their day-to-day work. For example, most technology companies allow staff to spend some time each month on writing their own apps or playing with their own technology ideas. Not only have major commercial hits been discovered this way, but the staff comes away from initiatives like this feeling like they’re able to express themselves or give back to the community, and either way they will feel that they are trusted by their organisation.
These are all small acts of kindness, but they have the remarkable effect of letting people know that they’re not just another cog in a machine; they have names and passions and are valued for what they do. The more that they feel this, the more they’re going to commit back to their work, as they will no longer see it as a job, but rather, part of their own lifestyles.
It’s important to be genuine about this, and sustain it indefinitely. As long as you do, though, you’ll find it has a substantial impact in improving the morale and productivity of your organisation.