Mental wellbeing | 4 ways to spread kindness at work

4 ways to spread kindness at work

In a climate still rife with uncertainty and with thousands of people reporting an impact on their mental wellbeing, there has never been a more critical time to be kind to ourselves and to one another.

Amid a surge of distressing news stories, fears for our loved ones and drastic changes to our day-to-day, one thing has clearly prevailed above all: kindness.

In the UK alone, we’ve witnessed unlimited acts of kindness and compassion, from those signing up to the NHS Volunteer Responders programme to support the elderly and vulnerable in their community, to businesses offering free services and payment holidays, and extraordinary fundraising efforts such as those led by Captain Sir Tom Moore.

And what better time to open up the conversation on how to bring this to the workplace than on World Kindness Day itself?

The science of kindness

It may surprise you to know that the feel-good factor of kindness isn’t just exclusive to the recipient; there are also scientifically proven benefits to being kind.

Studies have shown that kindness can decrease mental health conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety, as well as physical pain and even blood pressure. It also releases the hormones serotonin and oxytocin, which can help to stabilise our mood and promote feelings of wellbeing.

The question is, how can you leverage this to create a culture of kindness that supports the health and wellbeing of your employees? Here are four ideas that HR can share:

1. Say ‘Thank you’ regularly

If someone has done a great job or offered you support when you needed it most, don’t let this go uncelebrated. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a quick email of thanks, how about doing something a little more heartfelt? You could send a handwritten card through the post with some chocolates or even shout about them through company-wide employee recognition software.

2. Actively listen to your colleagues

It helps to get things off your chest from time to time, especially to a good listener. Active listening is not only key to empathetic engagement but it also increases positive emotions and can help to build stronger working relationships. Ensure managers have regular one-to-ones with their team, where they can talk freely about how they’re doing - in a work-related or personal context - if they feel so inclined.

3. Put dedicated time aside for some fun

Prioritising social activity over workload can be a huge kindness, especially at a time when many individuals are working longer hours than usual. Why not schedule a team virtual yoga session mid-morning once a week, or instigate some friendly (and healthy) competitions such as a pedometer challenge to encourage less screen time? If a member of the team is skilled in a hobby outside of work, such as baking, how about a virtual masterclass where everyone can bake along together?

4. Lead by example and with vulnerability

Everyone’s world has been somewhat turned upside down since the outbreak early this year. From setting rules against presenteeism to sharing personal stories with the wider workforce or near team, leaders can do their employees a great service by showing up more fully with their humanity and encouraging everyone to connect on a more meaningful level that transcends simply meeting deadlines and striving for optimum output.

Like with most of the best things in life, a little really does go a long way. And the true beauty of kindness? It’s contagious.

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