This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and there’s one place that kindness is often overlooked: the office. While we are at work, we are often more concerned with productivity than satisfaction, and professionalism that often translates to a decrease in personalization. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, happiness can increase productivity by 31%, as well as making employees three times more creative.
Increasing happiness sounds like something that should come from the top—restructured work days or more positive feedback from boss to employee. But there are ways to create a happier environment around yourself while at work, no matter your position in the company. Here are some ways you can contribute with random acts of kindness.
Lend a Hand: All Girl Scouts are taught to leave a space cleaner than they found it. Implementing this in the break room or conference room is a nice way to take pride in your space as well as respecting the others that come to use it after you. Even if there is a full-time cleaning person, simply wiping down the table or collecting up discarded papers at the end of a meeting can be helpful. If your break room has a coffee maker, make a fresh pot when it’s running low. Wipe down the microwave or offer to clean out the fridge.
Make the Professional Personal Again: Greet your co-workers or employees by name. If you’re in a building with a doorman or security guard, learn their names as well. Is there an intern that delivers your mail but you have no idea who they are? Ask next time they stop in. Is there someone you always pass as your handing off your shift? Tell them to have a nice day. Did a coworker go out of their way to help you with something? Thank them in person instead of shooting off a quick email. Even the smallest acts, like smiling, saying thank you, or holding the elevator door for someone, can have a huge impact.
Turning the Negative into Positive: There’s always that one person you dread seeing at work. Unless there’s a good reason not to, try being nice to that person in one of the simple ways listed above. Let go of a grudge just for one day, then maybe for two. Keep going. It may change your entire relationship.
Maximum Kindness: If you are in a management position, there may be even bigger ways to promote kindness in the workplace while take part in random acts yourself. You could organize a blood drive or a collection for a local charity. You could build a small library of books for your employees to share and encourage them to add to it. If you want to go all out, organize a party or another kind of surprise/treat for the whole staff.
Add Kindness to the Workplace all Year Round: While this is international kindness week, that doesn’t mean you have to limit your random acts. Create a Random Acts of Kindness bulletin board where people can share acts that made them smile or feel good. You could volunteer to keep the charity train going all year long, with a different cause each month. As soon as things start feeling forced, though, the kindness effect will wear off and it will feel like just another task for an employee, so remember to keep these random acts fun and easy.
What ways will you make kindness a priority in your workplace this week?
Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) bring happiness to strangers when they least expect it. The goal of such acts are "To make our world a kinder place one act at a time." The RAK movement was started in 1982, by a woman named Anne Herbert. She wrote the phrase "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a placemat in a restaurant in Sausalito, California. Years later, Anne wrote Random Acts of Kindness, a book about true stories of acts of kindness. As the movement grew, more and more people were inspired by the idea that simple acts of kindness, directed toward strangers, could change the world for the better. RAK is now internationally known and celebrated on different days around the world and continues to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Random Acts of Kindness not only bring happiness to the people around you, but also to yourself. Finding new ways to connect is a wonderful experience, and being kind to others brings fulfillment to your life overall. In addition, being kind is actually scientifically proven to make you happier and healthier! According to David R. Hamilton PhD, “Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body. Of recent interest is its significant role in the cardiovascular system”.
In the United States, February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day. However, making the world a kinder place shouldn’t be limited to just one day of the year. Here are ten ways people can perform random acts of kindness every day:
1. Pay for the person behind you on your morning coffee run- the smallest things can put a smile on someone’s face, and free coffee early in the morning could make someone’s day just a little bit brighter.
2. Commend a co-worker on their work- everyone deserves to have their efforts recognized, no matter how big or small!
3. Buy extra groceries and donate them to your local food pantry- every bit counts and you can help people in your community during a grocery trip you’d go on anyway.
4. Send a note (or text) to encourage a friend- you never know how people are feeling, and hearing from you just might make their day!
5. Bring sweets to share at work- surprise snacks are a great way to bring positivity into the office, and what better way to greet those you haven’t had the chance to meet yet than with food. Building community make everyone feel welcome and special and makes for a positive work environment.
6. Let someone ahead of you in line- we all know the feeling of dread when we see that the person ahead of us at the grocery store has a cart brimming with groceries and we just want to buy a loaf of bread. Make someone’s day by letting them go ahead of you- who knows? Someone may return the favor down the road.
7. Compliment someone- it can be as simple as their new hairstyle, or their shoes, but compliments are sure to make someone smile and they help you to see the best in others.
8. Volunteer in your community- whether it’s at a soup kitchen or a local school, you can help your community flourish with just a few hours of your time.
9. Introduce yourself to your neighbor- it’s easy to go about life in a constant rush, but making meaningful connections with the people around you creates a sense of community for everyone!
10. Invite someone to lunch- whether it’s a stranger who seems interesting, or a new co-worker in the office, a simple, friendly gesture can go a long way, and you never know who you’ll meet by just introducing yourself.