Has your workplace lost the love? If the atmosphere’s been a little fraught of late, Random Acts of Kindness Day (17th February 2018), is an opportunity to reach out to your fellow workers and spread the love. Often, it’s the smallest random acts of kindness that make the biggest impact. Our top 5 tried and tested tips will help soothe cranky colleagues and transform petty squabbles – and may even create the conditions for a hug-in at your next team meeting.
What is Random Acts of Kindness Day?
Random Acts of Kindness Day first sprung up in Denver, Colorado in 1995 and later spread to New Zealand and the UK. The aim of the day is to collectively make the world a better place by providing small acts of kindness to our fellow humans. As Leo Buscaglia, (aka Doctor Love) puts it: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Research from Wisconsin University has shown that those who perform good deeds in the office are happier and more fulfilled than those who fail to prioritise helping others at work. Altruism is also proven to be good for our mental health by contributing to an improved sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction and decreased levels of depression.
5 Random acts of kindness to try today
Praising others is a very simple way of showing your gratitude and appreciation. The compliments that work best in the workplace are those that are directly related to the accomplishment of tasks, and crucially, the way in which the task was performed. By making the extra effort to focus on the individual’s particular quirks and strengths, you affect them on a much deeper level.
Look at the difference in the two examples below:
That was a great job you did on the procurement project
I really liked the way you managed all the key stakeholders on the procurement project.
Transform your team away day
While designed to be an opportunity for team bonding, the team away day can often descend into what’s perceived as a mundane tick box exercise. To add a bit more altruism to the mix, ask each team member to write three positive things about other team members in advance of the away day. On the day, the positive comments are distributed to each of the team members anonymously. When this exercise has been performed before, team members have reported experiencing a huge boost with some individuals keeping the papers for years after the away day. Far more meaningful than another SWOT analysis.
Talk to a co-worker you’ve never spoken to before
This is an exercise that works particularly well in large offices with fixed desks where there’s little incentive to speak to others outside your immediate team. Talking to strangers is a fantastic way to boost your confidence while also brightening up someone else’s day. It also helps to break down the barriers we all erect when judging people we don’t know. It could be a quick comment about the weather while in the lift or commiserating in the kitchen about the return to work after Christmas.
Take an apprentice/ junior member of staff out for a coffee
We all remember how awkward it feels to start your first job particularly if you’ve just left school. I was nineteen when I had my first taste of the working world as an English Assistant in the South of France. As the youngest staff member by several decades, it could have been a miserable year, had it not been for the kindness of one English teacher who took me under her wing. Several decades on, we’re still in contact and I will never forget her kindness. So if you’ve got a new young starter, treat them to coffee or lunch out of the office and help make their integration into the working world as kind as possible.
Bring treats to the office
If all else fails, bringing in treats to the office is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the most cantankerous colleague. Cake is one of the best options with Victoria sponge or Lemon Drizzle proving to the most popular in my team. (Be wary of biscuits – as tastes seem to differ wildly here.) You can also offer healthy snacks such as fruit to be kind to the waistline too.