After more than two years of working during the pandemic, the American workforce is experiencing compounding pressures that’s impacting their level of stress. This, in turn, is effecting the health of your team and organization.
Increased stress in the workplace due to uncertainty leads to immense frustration and tests your organizational and team culture. Why? Because when you are frustrated, it impacts the way you perceive, think, and feel. Now, imagine most of the people you work with also being frustrated.
Whether it’s a just a couple people or a whole group of people, when frustration colors the lens by which you view the world around you, incivility, polarity, and tribalism are easily sparked – and this can threaten to tear apart your company’s culture.
While many organizations are actively working to reduce their employee’s stress by increasing salaries, adjusting work hours and creating more opportunities for growth and advancement, these things won’t have a lasting impact if the people in these organizations aren’t cultivating a culture of kindness.
Actively cultivating KINDNESS is the key ingredient to create a healthy team and organizational culture.
Kindness is the next innovation in people leadership. It’s one of the “soft skills” that can be hard to measure so we don’t mention it. However, if you don’t mention it, you can’t manage it.
There’s strength in kindness and it takes self-awareness, personal confidence and a mindset that sees the positive in others and situations.
Researchers have found that kindness is directly associated with stronger physical and mental health; relationships, teams, and communities; life satisfaction, and even economics. According to Dacher Keltner, PhD, “The science of human emotion, kindness and goodness are not to be taken lightly, they are actually good for our bodies and minds.”
The Importance of Kind Leaders
Over the past two decades, thousands of employees have been polled about their treatment at work. According to research referenced in the recent Harvard Business Review article, 98% report experiencing uncivil behavior, often prompted by thoughtlessness, rather than malice. Common forms include:
- Interrupting others
- Discussing other employees
- Acting in a condescending manner; belittling someone and/or their contributions
- Arriving late; responding late (or not at all)
- Ignoring others
- Negative eye contact—giving the side eye, dirty looks, rolling eyes, or staring
- Yelling, shouting, and/or verbally assaulting others (insults, harassment)
While subtle forms (and microaggressions) are often overlooked, they erode engagement, morale, and organizational culture. Consider this: while most employees will try to ignore, bury, or hide their feelings when experiencing incivility, some often “punish their offenders and the organization.” Managers, and leaders, must intervene, not in kind, but in kindness.
Being kind can boost oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. In turn, our outlook, creativity, efficiency, and productivity improve.
I have a few more thoughts on kindness that I’ll share later. In the meantime, what do you think? Is your organization led by kind leaders? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.