Kindness and Workplace Culture

7 min. read

A culture of kindness goes a long way in creating an amazing workplace.

Building an inclusive and secure workplace for your employees is more relevant today than at any time in history. The ground is shifting beneath us and implementing a safe space where people can appreciate the pride of a job well done, no matter who they are or what their background, is an essential part of a business's success.

One of the most important (if not the most important) parts of a workplace is ensuring that your employees can do their jobs well. An essential factor in helping employees in this regard is assisting them to have an understanding of your business, and their jobs – knowing what things mean and knowing how to use this information to do the things that are required of them in the performance of their duties.

Something that is lacking in a lot of workplaces is a small, but very practical, and often overlooked thing -- job descriptions.

All employees (veterans and new hires alike) should be provided with a document, whether in booklet form or a digital PDF, that covers a comprehensive description of not only their own position and what is expected of them but also how it fits into the bigger picture of the company itself. It should also cover things like who their immediate seniors or supervisors are, what other employees or departments they should be in contact with, and working in concert with. It should serve as a bible of sorts for their position in the company, so if they ever get lost or aren't sure if they're doing their job well, they can refer to this document and find the answers.

This is something that any CEO can do to empower their employees to be successful in their careers and expand their business. Because your career is something done over a large part of your life and because it has opportunities for progress toward your goals, you must spend time – first understanding and second practicing the abilities, knowledge, and skills.

In most cases, you don’t need all the details, but rather the most important parts of what can be focussed on to improve abilities, knowledge, and skills – and as a result, advancing everyone’s career. Of course, there will be situations that you gain knowledge by doing things and through experience on your job, too.

There’s an old saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” This is particularly true of a company. With everyone knowing what they can concentrate on to advance their ability to do their work well, productivity will naturally grow with all being aligned in their endeavors. And so as the tide rises, each and every boat is lifted with it.

As an executive, this should be your number one goal, to improve the lives of all, yourself included. With a thriving business, everyone doing well, enjoying a good quality of life, and feeling like they're contributing to a positive and productive workplace culture, everyone involved can relish in a life made better.

Another aspect of improving workplace culture is the ability to listen thoughtfully to every person in the company. No matter what they say or think, their ideas are important and most of the time can be an opportunity for meaningful discussions.

There may be times when it is obvious an employee isn't prepared for a task or is struggling with their duties. Instead of getting upset or frustrated, find a way to open a dialogue about the topic and find solutions that contribute to the goals of that employee and the company in a significant way.

This care towards their development is a rare but very appreciated quality in an executive. Rather than “lectures” or harsh talks about the shortcomings of a fellow professional, it is possible to simply extract the genius out of everyone by caring enough to find it and inspire those around you to be at their best.

It isn’t always easy, but you may find that if you start with the idea that everyone is brilliant and everyone has a voice that is worth listening to – well, people respond and greatness gets unlocked within them.

Leaders are naturally members of a team that decide to help others. It has been said many times that “It starts at the top.” Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it starts in the middle. Sometimes it is a manager, team leader, or even a brand-new professional that gets things started too.

Either way, no matter where it starts, the journey in the middle (where we live every day) is more important. It is where the real “work” happens.

This is where we spend our time together for long periods of time at work. Every one of us has an opportunity to improve the lives of those around us every day.

We have an opportunity to learn something new. To stay on the path of our journey. We do this by creating a smile. We do this by caring about one another. By being grateful for each other. By admiring differences – not mocking them. By being a friend that supports the ideas of those around them – not find ways to criticize or belittle. It takes a lot of work sometimes, but work that is well worth it. The proof is in seeing others happier in their lives.

Workplaces, particularly in larger companies, are never a single-handed effort to be successful. It takes everyone to be successful. It takes everyone putting energy and care into all they do and accomplish.

Thank yourself and those around you. Gratitude is an enormously powerful force. And whether we recognize it or not, we are all looking for inspiration. People may not always say it and at times, they may not even see it, but the more this becomes encouraged in a workplace, the more it seeps into the everyday habits of the workplace culture.

Executives and managers should take the time to connect what they do every day to your company’s purpose. Keeping open discussions about daily menial tasks and how they connect to the big purpose of the group as a whole is a surefire way to a more rewarding and valuable group experience.

And isn't that what we're talking about here? A group experience within the confines of a workplace. That experience can either be taxing or rewarding.

To ensure the success of any company, it’s vital to lay the groundwork by creating a culture of kindness. Inclusiveness and kindness are virtues that go hand in hand, especially in the workplace. Making every one of your colleagues and employees feel that they have value, that they’re part of a team, and that they have something to contribute that helps the group as a whole — that’s a workplace a lot of us would want to be a part of.

Acts of kindness cost nothing. It’s the little things that add up to a whole, and those little things have enormously positive effects.

If you look for ways to make people around you feel more comfortable, you'll find that little courtesies are everywhere to be found. Hold or open the door for others. Answer questions for new employees in a respectful way. Compliment someone on a job well done. Wave or say hello in passing. Be patient when someone is learning something new. Be genuinely interested in what someone has to say. Listen to a problem that someone is experiencing — ask if they want help with a solution or just someone to listen.

Empathize with someone who trusts you enough to talk about what they’re going through. Allow a colleague or friend to vent their frustration with a situation on you. Give someone a ride when they need it. Let someone know when they have something in their teeth. Buy someone a meal. Help a coworker when they have a question. Let someone know when they do a good job or do something that helps you out. Treat others how you would want to be treated.

Extend a helping hand. Run errands for someone who doesn’t have the time to do it themselves. Say hello, acknowledge someone’s presence — make them feel seen. Granting someone the importance and value that they inherently have goes a long way to cultivating a culture of kindness and inclusiveness in a workplace, and life in general.

Smile. Be courteous. Be kind.