Kindness Pays

The business world doesn’t exactly have a reputation for kindness. Instead, it’s often described as cutthroat, cold, and as single-mindedly focused on profits over people. In recent years, this has been shifting in some ways, as consumers have begun to expect more from business in terms of values like generosity, openness, and responsibility. Not only that, researchers have begun to explore the impact of values and behaviors that have historically been left out of the corporate experience — like kindness — on key business indicators like profitability and employee retention. For those who may have been resisting — out of fear that practicing kindness in the workplace would be perceived as weak or unprofessional — there is now compelling case for rethinking this outdated and broken model.

Here are just a few of the reasons to build kindness into your own leadership model and your organization’s culture.

  • One study found that “low-warmth” leaders have a drastically lower chance of making it to the top quartile of effectiveness, compared to your high-warmth peers.
  • Research suggests that when leaders practice “respectful engagement,” teams are more creative and productive.
  • Modeling kind behavior has a ripple effect. A study found that in organizations where leaders are perceived as fair, employees practice more collegial behavior.
  • Workplaces can be stressful environments and high stress is associated with a host of negative health outcomes. But when we observe kind behavior, it actually lowers the stress response in our brains. Positive interactions, like those that result from acts of kindness, in the workplace thus have been shown to benefit employee health.

Be kind. It’s a simple mandate, but we are presented with opportunities to test our commitment to it multiple times a day. It requires dedication and persistence, but the payoff is worth it.