5 ways to practice kindness in the workplace

Published: 02/18/20

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing, and kindness in the workplace can boost morale and productivity.

Two illustrated people watering a heart shaped plant, making it grow.

Kindness week has us thinking a lot about mutual respect in the workplace. At Sanger & Eby we are particularly fortunate to have a great team of thoughtful people working together toward the good of the company. We usually find ourselves treating each other with an attitude of positivity and encouragement. But we can fall short at times. So we have taken this opportunity to practice intentional kindness in the workplace and create a list that may help your work environment as well. 

Most people spend more time with their colleagues, at work, than with their own families, at home. It’s easy to become so familiar with one another that, in the midst of stressful deadlines and exciting project planning, fuses burn short and lead to being more quick than kind with one another when tensions are high. Being short with a colleague to make a point or rush a deadline might ‘get the job done’ in the short term but it leaves everyone feeling deflated and affects both morale and productivity long term. Treating your colleagues with kindness is an easy way to change the environment. 

So what can you do? Here are some ideas.

5 ways to practice kindness in the workplace

  1. Practice positive affirmation. Does it make you happy when your colleague completes their part of the project ahead of deadline or deliver an above-and-beyond work product? Take the extra moment to say, “Hey, I really appreciate that you got this to me so soon. I was ready to get started on my part and now I can!” or, “Wow, you really put your heart into this one. Thank you.” This may seem gratuitous, but that’s the point. When our efforts are seen and we feel recognized, our productivity goes through the roof as a result of increased morale.
  2. Ask more, accuse less. It’s so easy to approach a deliverable from two different perspectives, even when each member of a team think they are on the exact same page. When a colleague delivers an assignment that looks different than you expected, try asking about their approach rather than accusing them of botching the execution. This does a couple things. First, it helps them think critically about their approach and make a case for it without putting them on the defense. Second, it allows you the opportunity to hear their perspective, a perspective which might actually enlighten your thought process in unexpected ways. Curiosity creates important opportunities to build mutual respect and it’s a great way to start learning about each other’s way of processing information and approaching projects.
  3. Practice acts of care. Did you hear that someone was having a bad day at work? Or that one of your colleagues is dealing with a personal challenge? This presents an easy opportunity for you to reach out and offer a small token of concern. It can be as simple as a post-it note with a thoughtful message, or as big as a friendly lunch away from the office. Anything you do to show an investment in the well-being of those around you contributes to morale and builds community in the workplace.
  4. Always build up. We all have room to grow. We are learning every single day and everyone learns at different paces. When you notice a colleague lagging in a certain area, consider taking a moment to offer some friendly support and build them up in those areas to make them a more effective team member. And, at the same time, be sure to recognize the areas where they shine so they don’t get down on themselves and lose sight of where they add value.
  5. Be spontaneous with your kindness. Kindness has the most impact when it’s woven into the company culture consistently. You don’t have to wait until somebody’s having a bad day or falling short in certain areas to show them you care. Why not randomly bring cookies to work one day or organize a night out with your team? Anything you do to show, in the good times and in the hard times, that you’re looking out for each other and enjoy each other’s company will help build the team up and keep everyone in good spirits. 

Working kindness into your culture is easy. There’s a good chance that there are some things you can begin weaving into your workplace to start practicing positivity and encouragement in small, subtle ways that have the potential for big impact. 

Have more ideas about workplace kindness? Let us know what they are!