With kindness the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, we take a look at why kindness should be at the heart of your company culture.
Corporate cultures can vary wildly from organisation to organisation, and kindness may not always be a characteristic sought for from employees. In some cases, the opposite is promoted – in some businesses, there can be a ‘dog eat dog’ culture associated with success. There is a litany of business books; not many mention being nice.
And yet kindness can be key to a successful, healthy, popular and balanced life1. It’s an inexpensive and efficient way of improving morale, enhancing collaboration and increasing employee engagement. We take a look at how a culture of kindness in the workplace can positively impact businesses.
Being kind boosts serotonin and releases dopamine in the brain2, which can make people feel happier and more positive. Furthermore, a recent real-life study showed that acts of kindness had a huge impact on overall workplace positivity, and on employees’ sense of wellbeing3.
Positivity isn’t just good for the individual – it’s also good for business. When people feel more positive, they’re more likely to be creative, intelligent and productive4. Promoting kindness can create a butterfly effect which positively impacts business performance.
Impact on health
Kindness can also have a tangible impact on physical and mental health. It can decrease blood pressure5, it can reduce anxiety and it can help people manage stress. There has also been a study which shows a correlation between volunteering and lower levels of inflammation. It concluded that productive activities (i.e. frequent volunteering) may protect individuals from inflammation that is associated with increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease6. Therefore, being kind may help employees live happier, healthier and longer lives.
Building a connected community
People who receive kindness in the workplace report a sense of camaraderie, and a higher level of happiness7. Interestingly, areal-life study has shown that acts of kindness perpetuate within communities – not only did employees reciprocate acts of kindness, they also acted more kindly to others. Being kind to others can release endorphins – being kind literally makes people feel good.
This has an impact on performance; a Canadian study found that teams in a respectful environment have more energy, are more likely to feel motivated and enthusiastic, and are more satisfied with their jobs8. A connected and engaged workforce is also less likely to be isolated, which can also detrimentally effect mental health.
There are many ways that companies can promote kindness as a core value. Business-led initiatives could include:
- Providing free refreshments, snacks or lunch
- Celebrating community in a public space (such as a communal board)
- Facilitating conversations – through social networks, lunches or more formal initiatives
- Encouraging employees to celebrate one another through peer-to-peer recognition
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