Is kindness the secret to success at work?

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Wellbeing and engagement in the workplace have been very hot topics in the past few years and for good reason. A happy and engaged employee brings their best to the workplace and they are more likely to engender a culture of positivity within their team and the wider business.

 “Be kind to your fellow employees and commit random acts of kindness to decrease stress in the workplace and increase productivity.” - Dan Schwartz1

There has been a huge rise in the number of studies exploring the impact of emotional intelligence and its importance for business performance.2 But one area that has been slower to be recognised is the idea of kindness in the workplace. Kindness can be defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”3 But what does this mean when we think about ourselves at work?

The challenge

Kindness is not always seen as a necessity in the workplace. However, kindness can be the difference in a customer wanting to buy from us, a colleague helping us out or a team working effectively together. We all know how the absence of kindness makes us feel: angry, disengaged and resentful.

Let’s take the example of a salesperson. We know that the best salespeople are those who focus on relationships, not just transactions.

The director of sales at Hubspot, Michael Pici, agrees when he says that the most successful reps have spent a lot of time getting to know their typical buyers: their challenges, top priorities, daily responsibilities, fears, and so on. And they’re not just familiar with their prospects -- they also empathize with them. Because great reps see their prospects as actual people, they build stronger relationships.”4

We remember how people make us feel rather than the details of the service or product. If a salesperson can show a simple act of kindness, such as remembering something about their client’s family or interests, they will be more memorable to the prospect or client and perhaps this will make the interaction more likely to end in a sale. Kindness can be good business!5

Most importantly, scientific research supports the idea that giving and receiving acts of kindness in the workplace leads to better performance and wellbeing, influencing business leaders to start considering kindness as a tool for productivity.

A recent study has shown that there is a measurable increase in positive feelings of wellbeing and levels of productivity when people are actively encouraged to engage in acts of kindness and then “pay it forward”. Freely chosen acts of kindness tend to create “virtuous cycles” that then grow naturally.6 This is good news for those who work with other people on a regular basis as we can create big wins for ourselves and the workplace with relatively small efforts.

Potential solutions

So, how can we increase acts of kindness? The good news is that it does not take much time or effort, yet the impact can be significant for both the giver and receiver. Remembering something personal about someone’s family, bringing in treats for the team, writing a note of thanks, freely giving compliments, offering help outside of your remit – the list is endless.

If we are unsure about how we are coming across to others, completing an Emotional Intelligence assessment such as Thomas Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue) can help us think about our levels of self-awareness, empathy, how we recognise emotions and how we are able to modify our approach to others. This can then help us to recognise and practice the behaviours needed to display greater levels of kindness.

So, what next?

Emotional intelligence covers traits such as empathy, happiness, optimism and emotion management, all of which can be an excellent starting point for a discussion of how important the role of kindness plays in our lives. Using TEIQue and receiving insightful feedback on your results will give you specific bespoke ideas to increase self-awareness and ultimately kindness. The impact of using TEIQue within the workplace is measurable via processes such as 360 feedback and employee engagement surveys which contribute to the performance of individuals, teams, managers and leaders. It also helps to ensure that we create a business for the modern world where relationships are more important than ever.

We can all benefit from a more positive work environment; it simply makes the time we spend there more pleasant. If we take small steps to increase acts of kindness, we will soon see the benefits to us and we may also see others emulating the same behaviours, creating a culture of kindness and compassion, benefiting you, the other party and the whole organisation. Let’s get the kindness culture going!



Claire Dwight

Claire Dwight

Claire Dwight has been an L&D specialist at Thomas international since 2015 and draws on her years of experience in sales, people development, management and leadership which enables her to be a pragmatic and engaging trainer. Claire enjoys delivering training that is interactive and fun but that also delivers powerful solutions for each stage of the employee life cycle. She loves to see the impact that Thomas assessments have in improving the lives and experiences of those who use them.