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Random acts of kindness – using the power of love to build better workplaces

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Could a random act of kindness make a real difference to your business? Is a culture of kindness something your business values?

To mark Random Acts of Kindness Week 2024 (February 11-17), we’re exploring how much power these small gestures really hold in the workplace.

Random acts of kindness create feelings of warmth, connection and happiness for givers and recipients alike. They do this by triggering powerful brain chemicals that build feelings of trust, empathy and togetherness between people, while also strengthening resilience to negative feelings.

The implications for how kindness could improve your workplace are huge. In this article, we’ll go into a bit of the science of what makes kindness so powerful and explain how you can use it to make positive impacts on your workplace, both in-person and remotely.

The science bit…

Even the smallest random acts of kindness are powerful enough to trigger a change in our brain chemistry, releasing potent hormones that affect how we feel and behave. Those chemicals include oxytocin – the love hormone and serotonin – the happiness hormone.

Oxytocin is a vital chemical for forming social bonds. Higher levels of oxytocin in our body lead to greater trust, empathy, friendliness, and generosity. Serotonin, meanwhile, is a neurotransmitter that helps to drive down feelings of depression and anxiety.

An act of kindness triggers our brains to give us an extra dose of these chemicals, which brings huge emotional and physical benefits in turn.

It’s good to feel valued

Being on the receiving end of an unexpected act of kindness makes employees feel calmer, happier and even tops up their self-esteem by releasing a short dose of oxytocin.

At the same time, a hit of serotonin from receiving kindness makes the recipient more resilient to feelings of depression and anxiety, while lowering feelings of stress.

Small shows of appreciation, such as an employer giving them an unexpected gift card, can significantly impact an employee’s sense of value to a business. This in turn creates a more positive atmosphere and can even increase productivity.

According to the latest Love2shop Employee Value Report, 87% of UK workers feel valued when their employer gives them a spontaneous gift. It also found 57% felt their output increased when they felt valued by their employer – so the effect of random acts of kindness can improve the performance of your staff and your business.

It’s makes you feel amazing too

Crucially, giving random acts of kindness does wonders for you.

Showing kindness and appreciation can create the “helper’s high” phenomenon, where your brain’s pleasure centres are activated by doing something nice for someone else.

Performing a random act of kindness literally makes you feel good by lighting up the same parts of your brain that make receiving kindness feel good.

Kindness to others has also been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and increase feelings of energy. Participants in studies have reported feeling stronger, and more energetic, after being kind to others. Bringing kindness into your business culture could therefore help your business manage the pressure of the challenging economic climate.

Being kind also reduces stress – kind people have 23% less cortisol – the stress hormone – in their body. All of these benefits are vital for a happier workforce. And a happier workforce is a more productive workforce. Studies have shown that staff are 13% more productive when they’re happy.

It’s not just in your mind

The benefits of kindness don’t just affect our emotions – there’s also evidence kindness can have physical health benefits.

Endorphins released by acts of kindness naturally work as painkillers while oxytocin has been shown to promote better healing and wellbeing.

At the same time, reducing stress through kindness has proven physical effects on symptoms like blood pressure.

Happier, less stressed staff are also more likely to make positive choices around sleep, food, and exercise, giving your company a more effective, healthier workforce.

Combined, these benefits have a huge positive effect on overall employee health. For your business, that means employees who produce better work more often and miss fewer days due to mental and physical sickness.

How to use your powers for good

So, you now have the science on your side.

You have the power to deeply influence your team with a simple gesture.

But how best to use your new superpowers? First, make kindness part of your company culture. We may be talking about this because of Random Acts of Kindness Week, but the benefit of these acts is, in part, due to their unpredictable nature.

Giving out small, random rewards to employees throughout the year for nothing in particular can have far-reaching consequences.

The Love2shop Employee Value Report found that 8-outof-10 people believe regular gifting helps attract a higher calibre or employee to a business. It’s becoming more important too, with 67% adding that they check a company’s employee rewards, recognition and workplace culture before applying for a job – an 11% increase on the previous year.

Productivity, reputation and loyalty can all be improved as a direct result of random acts of kindness and all can make a positive impact on the success of your business.

Be consistent

While a dose of naturally-produced oxytocin or serotonin is powerful, it’s only temporary.

However, a workplace where employees consistently give, receive, and see others benefit from random acts of kindness means your staff are never too far from their next top-up of feel-good vibes.

Create opportunities for employees to be kind

Some companies organise group events for charity, like fun-runs and toy drives, but others go further – they set a few days aside a year that an employee can use to work for a charitable cause of their choice.

In a smaller, more personal way, you can make sure special moments are marked. Significant milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries are a great opportunity to thank someone for their hard work and commitment, helping staff feel valued.

Give kindness a place in your company

Perhaps the randomness of these acts is what puts you off, you’d like some structure to your employee rewards. Fortunately, this too can bring benefits to your business. You can implement a digital solution – like the Love2shop Engagement Platform – to make managing the scheme simple.

A modular system, Love2shop Engagement Platform is suitable for businesses of any size and can be adapted to your business’s bespoke needs. So whether you want to reward performance in a purely data-driven way or you’d like to give colleagues the chance to recognise the kindness and support of their peers through a recognition function, Love2shop Engagement Platform can help.

Celebrate kindness in others

What you highlight and recognise is a signal to your staff. It says, “This is what we value, this is the behaviour we treasure.” Show your staff you prize kindness if you want them to be kind to each other.

Take the time to find, and celebrate, actions of kindness among your employees. Highlight them and, if possible, reward them. By putting that behaviour on a pedestal, you encourage others to copy it, creating a positive feedback loop.

Empower your leaders to embrace kindness

If you want to create sustained positive change in your company, your managers need to buy into it. Good ideas die in middle management when your leaders are forced to choose between hitting a monthly target and embracing a cultural change.

Getting your staff to buy into the power of kindness is the easy part – we’ve laid it all out above. The trick is giving them the space and resources to make sure it becomes a permanent part of your company’s culture.

Over to you

Like we said earlier, there’s an enormous power at your disposal in kindness. Embracing that power, and building it into the fabric of your company has huge benefits.

Not just to your staff’s emotional and physical wellbeing, but to the actual functioning of your organisation as well. It pays to be kind.

If you’d like help to put kindness at the heart of your business contact our team of engagement experts.

Whether you just need a prod in the right direction or a tailor-made reward and recognition programme, they have the knowledge to help you find the most effective way to create your very own culture of kindness.

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