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My KIND of company

Being kind makes the world a better place, so isn’t it something we should see more of in the workplace? 44’s Sarah Woods takes a look at why kindness shouldn’t be underestimated and the benefits it can bring to businesses.

Sugar, spice and all things nice

Great news for fans of The Apprentice everywhere – the show will be back on our screens in October, bringing with it a fresh bunch of hopefuls hanging on Lord Sugar’s every word.

I know I’m not the only one who looks forward to the cringeworthy, yet compelling, moment when the candidates introduce themselves.

Here are a few of the best bits

“I consider myself to be the Brad Pitt of the Teacher-Training industry when it comes to Literacy.”
“I would probably liken myself to the snake from the Garden of Eden.”
“What makes me a good candidate is the fact that I am wearing tweed.”
And my personal favourite from the winner of series nine, Leah Totton:
“My hair is more voluminous than the others.”

In a show full of egos and self-serving showboaters, almost nothing they say would surprise me – except, maybe if they claimed that they were kinder than anyone else…

In a business world, rudeness can so easily be relabelled as assertiveness, and unscrupulous behaviour can be brushed off as nothing more than determination to get a job done. Yet somehow, kindness can be considered a weakness.

The Science of Kindness

Being kind makes the world a better place – cheesy, but true. According to the Random Act of Kindness Foundation: “The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to ‘pay it forward’. This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!”
If improving someone’s day isn’t a good enough reason, then how about the associated health benefits? The Foundation’s research shows that acts of kindness increase happiness, energy levels and even lifespan, while also decreasing pain, stress, anxiety, depression and blood pressure. Not bad for something that costs nothing!

The business case for kindness

Although some people define Millennials by their love of avocados and coffee shops, here are some facts that are a much better way of describing a generation that will make up 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

According to the 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study:

• 64% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work

• 64% won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) values

• 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.

Yet despite this, Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey, shows “a clear, negative shift in millennials’ feelings about business’ motivations and ethics. Today, only a minority of millennials believe businesses behave ethically (48 percent vs 65 percent in 2017) and that business leaders are committed to helping improve society (47 percent vs 62 percent in 2017).”

In order to keep their customers happy and attract and retain the best talent, CSR should be high up on a company’s agenda. At its simplest, corporate social responsibility is rooted in kindness and doing the right thing.

It’s not just a nice to have

CEOs and leaders should be setting the standard when it comes to the behaviours they expect of their employees.

But here are three other ways kindness can make a difference in the workplace…

Be kind to yourself!

World Suicide Prevention Day took place earlier this week. A day designed to raise awareness of suicide and reach out to those who are suffering. Every year in the UK, more than 6000 people commit suicide. Mental health is so important. Make sure you are being kind to yourself and if you are struggling, then talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence.

Company to customer or client

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the customer is always right’. And that can so often be the case, especially dealing with customers in retail. But when it comes to working with clients, kindness can mean many things. It could be remembering a birthday or helping out with a tight deadline. It could also mean pointing out where a project isn’t working well – in order to make it better. Being kind doesn’t mean telling people what they want to hear, it’s about doing your best by them.

Company to good causes and the community

Wherever possible, businesses and employees should do what they can to help charities and the communities around them. It could be as simple as raising money with a cake sale, or something more involved such as volunteering at an event or lending your skills to a business that could benefit. Companies are increasingly supporting employees with their endeavours by match funding the amounts they raise for good causes and even allowing volunteering leave.

To put a twist on Lord Sugar’s favourite word… get fired up for the right reasons, and find out how kindness can make a difference to the place you work and the people around you.

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