Engaging employees to make kindness a daily habitual takes more than a token cheque. WKUSA Chief Advisor Michael Lloyd-White offers a few pearls of kindness to help encourage employees to make free-will offerings a mainstay in working life.
Writing a company cheque to a charity, while generous, doesn’t go far in encouraging a culture of practicing kindness in our everyday workplace. The key to keeping it front of mind is continual employee engagement on all things related to kindness.
While aligning the company brand with a complementary charity might be good for brand equity, it is not necessarily going to make employees feel connected to the charity, or indeed, inspire colleagues to seek out opportunities for practicing kindness daily.
A true act of kindness does not ask for public recognition.
The reward comes from the rush we receive when we know our action has directly made a positive impact on another person’s life.
When it comes to goodwill initiatives, the more directly involved we are in the act, the greater the personal reward, and, the more likely we are to repeat kindness again. The net effect is a kinder, happier and safer workplace for all.
The question we find ourselves asking is what action can we personally take to make a kinder workplace? Is it a five-dollar automatic monthly deduction from our payslip to a nominated charity, or is it a one hour monthly contribution towards a charitable program?
Progressive companies like BUPA do have rostered days off for voluntary work, which is fantastic, however, this may not necessarily translate into a kinder work environment long-term, because the act of goodwill is performed outside of the workplace.
A recent survey commissioned by Cavill + Co and conducted by Di Marzio Research in early 2013 involved 1,200 consumers from across Australia. Of those interviewed, the study claimed that out of seven ‘feel good actions’ listed, ‘an act of kindness to benefit another’ ranked number one with 36 percent of respondents saying this action was the most personally rewarding in terms of feelings of happiness. A hug came in second place at 20 percent. Eating chocolate ranked seventh at four percent…
Interestingly the most complex problems generally have simple solutions.
If you’re in a leadership role, trying to engage employees in a goodwill enterprise, World Kindness Australia developed Kindness KPIs which are a great place to start your workplace on its journey to being a kinder space for everyone.
An example of a recent corporate-sponsored goodwill enterprise was by Dr Catherine Crock, whom is one of the World Kindness Australia Goodwill Ambassadors and the Founder of HUSH Foundation. Together with the Victorian Government, they hosted the world’s largest kindness event for the health care sector leading up to World Kindness Day in November 2017. Four hundred health care professionals attended a four-day conference and talked about kindness in the health care industry.
What transpired was a real hunger for kindness and a desire to know more. Attendees at the conference discussed what the barriers to kindness in the health profession were, which seemed to be endless when the question was posed to the audience. They also wanted to know how to balance kindness with the bottom-line. All this served to address an industry bound by compliance and a duty of care but sadly the burden of compliance often erodes the care factor. As a result of this conference, North East Health Wangaratta became the first Government Hospital in the world to join World Kindness Australia and in 2018 we are excited that this sector has committed to undertaking KPIs of a very different kind.
Another organisation, Hilton Worldwide, has a number of employee programs that highlight the company’s efforts in strengthening communities.
Former Hilton Sydney’s former General Manager, Michael Bourne says, “Hilton is globally committed to highlighting team members’ efforts in the community through a number of team member programs, including Blue Energy”.
Bourne says that ‘Blue Energy’ reflects their passion to live Hilton’s core values, deliver on their promises and celebrate team members’ stories.
“It’s an expression of spirit we show to our guests, communities and each other as team members. Following this, ‘Bright Blue Futures’ was launched in 2012; a community relations program focused on providing stability and hope to young people. Hilton Sydney participated in a program with the City of Sydney and YWCA NSW whereby 14 participants were given the opportunity to experience the hotel industry in the hope that it might be a future career option for them,” says Bourne.
The Hilton Sydney team members are also actively involved in the city night patrol program in conjunction with charity St Vincent de Paul whereby team members provide food and comfort to the less fortunate.
These are a few great examples of corporates getting personally involved in, and promoting acts of kindness as the primary goal.
To help your company start its kindness journey, here’s ten steps you can start with to encourage your organisation to make acts of kindness, business as usual –
- Place kindness on the agenda at the next meeting
- Host a panel “Conversations in Kindness”. Ask questions like, ‘what does kindness look like in an ideal world’, and ‘Why is taking the kinder option often the path of most resistance’?
- Develop a Kindness Policy and Workshop (WKM can help!)
- Pledge to use your best endeavours to always seek the kinder option in all decision-making processes both professional and personal
- Appoint company-wide Goodwill Ambassadors. Each month, implement Class Acts of Kindness – A group or department activity and have the staff vote at the end of twelve months which act of kindness they felt had the greatest impact on them. If possible, it should involve all staff from all departments (by all I mean every victim every bully and bystander)
- Acknowledge acts of kindness with an award and/or sponsor a co-branded interactive Kindness Card which you can purchase through WKM. This tracks the act of kindness through Google Maps as they are passed on from one person to another to acknowledge someone’s kindness. This can support your CSR programs and be used as a fundraising tool for your chosen charity
- Collaborate in kindness by seeking three ideas from all staff on their thoughts on how to create a kinder company:
- with the community
- for clients and suppliers; and
- in the workplace
- Undertake A Quarterly Kindness Index
- Aim for your organisation to become an ‘Agent for Positive Change’ through having a purpose greater than its bottom line; and
- Join the Global Campaign to Create a Kinder World with the board signing a Declaration of Support in an official Signing Ceremony inviting all key stakeholders to witness.
The truth is, if token cheques could change the world, it would have happened already. What really mobilises agents for positive change is demonstrating regular and consistent employee engagement through sharing stories of kindness and witnessing acts of kindness within the workplace that moves us and inspires us to follow suit.