Random Acts of Kindness at Work

By | 2017-01-13T13:42:25+00:00 February 17th, 2010|Categories: Respectful Workplace|Tags: , |1 Comment

Did you know that Random Acts of Kindness Week officially kicked off on Monday? This annual event, sponsored by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, is intended to inspire kindness with a “pay it forward” mentality. In today’s society, and especially workplace culture, kindness, it seems, has fallen by the way side. People simply believe they don’t have the time, money, or energy to extend even a small amount of kindness, but times like these are exactly when we need a friendly smile or an unsolicited compliment the most.

Studies have shown that the effects of kindness not only make you feel good but also improve your mental and physical health. In 1991 Allan Luks, former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City, conducted a study of several thousand volunteers located around the country to understand what their emotional state was like after they helped someone else. He determined that helping others and performing acts of kindness improved the overall health of study participants, even lowering stress.

So what are the workplace implications of Luks’s results? Well obviously we are living through some extremely difficult and stressful economic times, so if an act of kindness can help, even in some small way, wouldn’t you want to try it? And wouldn’t you want to try it in the workplace, which may well be the most stressful environment you are exposed to on a daily basis?

In my previous career, I was a volunteer trainer and manager in Washington, DC during some stressful times – think 9/11, Anthrax, sniper murders and the Iraq War. Also, if you’ve ever been a volunteer or managed them you know that it can often be a thankless job, because even though you are not getting paid, it is still a job. That’s why I always made a point to celebrate my volunteers everyday by going out of my way to send them thank-you notes, give them calls, or leave them treats. Often a simple smile and appreciative “thank you” did the trick.

So what did I learn from this? Not only did my small tokens of gratitude make my volunteers feel better about themselves and their work, but it also made me feel better. It was as if the feel-good feelings were contagious. And you know what? The volunteers noticed and several times reciprocated. Occasionally, I would find flowers on my desk, for no reason, given to me by a thankful volunteer, proving that kindness can be infectious.

This week I challenge you to start small by doing one act of kindness at work, whether it is simply welcoming a new hire, telling your boss you appreciate him or her, sharing positive news or quotes or even just a smile. Hopefully you’ll see the benefits immediately, and it will inspire you to make this a regular habit at work, one that you don’t even have to think about!

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive articles like this and more by email.Sign up now
Learn more about our employee surveys, customized training, keynote speakers, and coaching.Learn more

About the Author:

Melanie Sklarz
Melanie Sklarz was the the web content and social media coordinator as well as the lead blog writer for the RespectfulWorkplace.com website. She has a MA in Women’s Studies from the Ohio State University. For more information, visit melaniesklarz.com.

One Comment

  1. Reed February 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Good article. I agree with you completely.
    I started my own daily year-long commitment to giving back in December. Every day I find someone that I don’t know and I give them $10. They are free to do whatever they wish with it. I learn a little about them and their story as well as find out what they plan to use the money for.
    It’s really not about the $10, although it has meant a great deal to several of the recipients. It’s really about the people I meet and their lives….about the personal interaction with each recipient and letting them know that you cared enough to speak with them and to give them something without receiving anything in return. The reality is that you do receive something great in return. You walk away with a contagious feeling of goodness that I now have become addicted to.
    If people are interested, they can check out the journey at http://www.yearofgiving.org.

Comments are closed.