World Kindness Day - November 13th
November 13th is World Kindness Day. Established in 1998, its purpose is to highlight good deeds in the community and remind us that Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition that bridges the divides of race, religion, politics, gender and zip codes.
Kindness is also good for business. In the workplace, Kindness results in employees who are happier and highly engaged. This, in turn, leads to improved productivity and a more positive customer experience.
Kindness is a choice that has very little downside. It doesn’t cost more or require extra effort, and yet it almost always results in goodwill. But if kindness is a such a no-brainer, then why do we seem to hear more about random acts of violence than random acts of kindness?
Follow procedure or do the right thing?
A couple of years ago, United Airlines was in the headlines when a man was dragged off one of its planes. It would be easy to point out the poor choices made that day, but plenty of others have already scrutinized the actions of everybody involved. It was remarkable how the choices made by a relatively few number of people ended up costing the airline millions of dollars.
Did you know there was another airline incident just one week prior? When severe storms in the South resulted in 300 canceled flights, Delta Airlines ordered more than 700 pizzas for passengers who were stranded or delayed. The delays were completely out of Delta’s control and they were under no obligation to do anything, but they chose to have food delivered. It was a choice they made as a company. A choice of Kindness. It was a choice that may have cost them several thousand dollars, but the payoff is immeasurable. And it’s nothing compared to the cost of the choices made in the United incident.
Choosing acts of kindness is good for business
Even small acts of kindness can result in big impacts. In 2012, a young man was visiting his terminally ill grandmother. Evidently, she told him the hospital soup tasted awful and that she really wanted clam chowder from Panera. The young man called the local Panera restaurant and even though it wasn’t Friday, the manager offered to make some without hesitation. When this story was retold on Facebook, it received 500,000 likes and 22,000 comments within a week. All because an employee was empowered to make the choice of Kindness. Are your employees empowered to do the “Kind” thing?
The advantage of being happy
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, makes a compelling case that the greatest advantage in today’s economy is a happy and engaged workforce. His research proves happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: it increases sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%. Turns out that happy people are also healthier and less likely to leave.
Everyday kindness in the workplace
If I asked you to share examples of kindness in your workplace, would your response be: Somebody bringing donuts or bagels on Friday morning? Unexpected praise from a co-worker or better yet, your boss? A handwritten “thank you” or “you rock!” note left on your desk? Kudos on your big presentation? Somebody who volunteered to help you finish a task or meet a deadline? Maybe even just a simple compliment about your outfit? Whatever your answer, I am confident that it brought you happiness not only when it first happened, but again just now replaying the moment in your head. Am I right? I think acts of Kindness might be one of the single biggest contributors to a positive work environment.
Karma and “Why not?”
At its core, karma is based on “what goes around comes around.” It would be fantastic if karma worked like a series of debits and credits, but it doesn’t. It requires trust, patience, and persistence. It’s not easy, especially when we have days when we’re tempted to respond with anger or aggression rather than perform an act of Kindness. Despite the challenges, I still believe Kindness is the obvious choice. We know it leads to happiness and that happy people are more productive, healthy and loyal (which are all good for business!). Next time you are faced with the choice of kindness, rather than asking “Why?” I encourage you to ask “Why not?”
This article is written by
Brian is an engineer, entrepreneur, father and athlete with more than 20 years experience building high performing teams and driving culture change. He co-founded in 2016 to help local businesses, governments, non-profits, and schools create “irresistible” workplaces for their employees.