Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization

The evidence is in, and there can be no doubt. Treating employees well and making them happy affects the bottom line. Let’s explore the dynamics, and see just how to achieve a kinder workplace and happier employees.

This “happiness map” is a generic guide to happiness. Nevertheless, it is as relevant in a workplace setting as anywhere else.

This way to happiness >> By Carol Preibis

This way to happiness >>
Happiness Map by Carol Preibis

 

Notice that the starting point is “Mindfulness.” Being mindful promotes compassion (kindness). Mindfulness also leads to “Appreciation” — it teaches us gratitude. Conclusion: To achieve happiness in the workplace, we would do well to:

  •   Apply mindfulness to the workplace.
  •   Foster gratitude across the organization.

 

Mindfulness

Do you live in the moment?

“SAKURAKO – Pick up the phone.”
by MIKI Yoshihito via CCBY2.0

“Mindfulness is a way to live your life as if it really mattered. And that involves being in the present moment with open-hearted presence and kindness toward yourself.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

Evidence suggests practicing mindfulness can help organizations by diminishing stress-related health care costs and increasing productivity. Kelley McCabe Ruff runs eMindful, a Vero Beach company that puts on virtual workshops for businesses. She has been able to quantify the effectiveness of eMindful’s programs, showing that they support behavioral change that leads to physical changes, such as reduced cortisol levels and lower blood pressure. “We actually supply employers a return on investment calculation.”

 

Kelley McCabe Ruff, eMindful CEO and founder, relates eMindful’s focus on reducing employee health care costs and increasing productivity. Live programs are offered via the internet, allowing eMindful to provide the most experienced and expert teachers in Mindfulness as well as other Mind-Body Programs. Presented by eMindful – http://www.eMindful.com

Reflecting before reacting is the first step in practicing mindfulness, and learning it is quite simple. Think of the acronym STOP:

Stop — Stand or Sit
Take a breath
Observe
Present – be in the present moment

Rhonda Magee explains the technique in this video.

Rhonda Magee, JD, is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of San Francisco. In this talk from the “Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion” conference on March 8, 2013, Magee explores how to apply contemplative practices to our professional lives–and in doing so create more compassionate workplaces.

 

Sharon Salzberg, author of the book Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace, believes mindfulness can be applied in any career.  “It’s a great tool for coming back to the moment and remembering your intention,” she says. For example, practicing mindfulness at work could be pausing and planning before picking up a phone, or taking a deep breath and focusing on the desired outcome during a contentious meeting.

“Teaching and encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has become a part of corporate efforts to reduce the stresses that can lead to burnout. Increasingly, the practice has gone mainstream, buoyed by the recent endorsements of CEOs, educators, actors, and politicians who link mindfulness to improved psychological and even physical health.” ― Cindy Krischer Goodman, Working with ‘mindfulness’ reduces stress in the workplace

 

Gratitude

Good job!

“Good Job on Sticky Note” by David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“To practice gratitude, we must practice mindfulness. When we are truly present in the moment, we see the beauty all around us. And the more joy we cultivate, the more we can practice our purposeful awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Mindfulness begets gratitude, gratitude begets mindfulness.” — Sarah Rudell Beach, Mindfulness and Gratitude: A Celebration of Thankfulness

Foster an environment of gratitude across your organization. Gratitude in organizations is important—it can boost morale and increase productivity. To learn more about this dynamic, the Greater Good Science Center developed a quiz that measures the level of gratitude in an organization. An analysis of the results concludes: “In order to foster gratitude across an organization, it may help to maximize opportunities for people in low-level positions to make meaningful contributions, and ensure that their contributions are recognized—especially for employees who have been in a low-level position for many years. It may also be wise for organizations with high levels of stress to bring more awareness to how often—and to whom—expressions of gratitude are granted.”

A wonderfully effective way to recognize employee contributions is with an “office gratitude journal.” The Administration and Finance office of the University of California, Berkeley, created an appreciation platform that allows employees to recognize each other’s contributions, which feeds into a “Kudos” webpage that publicly highlights these contributions. A simpler and equally effect implementation of this same idea is a bulletin board known as a “wall of gratitude.” For details on these and other suggestions, see five ways to boost gratitude at work.

 

Kindness

Business Team Discussing Ideas

“Business Team Discussing Ideas” by stockimages via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” ― Adam GrantGive and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

There are so many ways to bring kindness into work. Here are a few suggestions:

  •   Never, ever play the “blame game.” Rachel Woods, in her article on Tiny Buddha, explains how to stop playing this destructive game.
  •   Develop the skill of giving and receiving criticism. I highly recommend Zen and the Art of Constructive Criticism by Erin Dorney.
  •   Help one another. Mentor. Collaborate.
  •   Be friendly! Smile, give a compliment, speak a few kind words. Bring in a treat to share.
  •   We all understand the importance of work-life balance. A booklet from Acas Publications offers expert advice on work-life balance and flexible working. It includes some real-world problem scenarios, and provides real-world solutions.

 

Employee Engagement

employee engagement = success

Photo credit: betterworks.com

“To win in the marketplace…you must first win in the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center.” — Doug Conant

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of any organization, and it is management’s responsibility to make it happen! Managers, consider these tips:

  •   Give your employees autonomy. Let them know what’s going on, and elicit their ideas for improvement.
  •   Transparency is important to employees. Share long-term visions. Explain how their work fits into the big picture.
  •   Give employees opportunities for growth. Offer them new responsibilities. Give them time to train and learn.
  •   Employees love feedback, so give it often. If you have recommendations for improvement, offer to help them implement them.
  •   Be nice! Let them know that you care about them as people, not just as employees.

 

Books to Instruct and Inspire

Join the Kindness Revolution

It’s inspiring to think about individual pay it forward chains. It’s even more amazing to picture pay it forward webs. Each person in a chain has opportunities to fire off new chains. Most people are in multiple chains. Perhaps a web might look like a Tinker Toy project!

Tinker Toys

“Tinker Toys for Adults” by greenmelinda via CCBY2.0

 “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” — Maya Angelou

The time is right. These ideas are becoming mainstream, and for good reasons. It’s an exciting time for all of humanity. Be mindful, be grateful, be kind. Watch kindness spread from heart to heart and share the joy, especially in the workplace.

This is part two of a two-part series, Kindness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. If you missed part one last week, please click here. For more on Carol, keep reading. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

33 Lessons in 33 Years

I recently came across a fun post, 32 Lessons from 32 Years of Life. The timing was perfect as I was pondering what to post about on my birthday (Yep, Pisces here.), and I had actually been toying with the idea of this type of post.

I hope you find these short lessons useful, and please feel free to chime in with your own at the end. So, here goes… lessons I’ve learned from 33 years of living:

1. You’re only as good as your word. Don’t break it. (Read: If You Say You’re Going To Do Something, Do It!)

2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you have.

kicking toward the finish line

Running makes me happy and clears my mind. What’s your favorite activity?

3. Own your decisions. You are responsible for you — not anyone else.

4. Pay it forward. Karma has a way of reciprocating. You’ll  benefit more than those you help anyway. Trust me.

5. Make time for you. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary to recharge and be at your best.

6. Some “vices” are OK. If you really enjoy something, do it (unless it harms others).

7. Pay attention. You’ll learn so much by being observant, in business and in life.

8. Learn from the past, look forward to the future, but live in the present. It’s the best show there is. If you’re constantly reliving things or worrying about future events, you’ll miss a lot of wonderful moments.

9. Learn to give — and receive — constructive criticism. (“This is terrible” or “you’re stupid” is not constructive.)

10. Listen, listen, listen. It will take you far in life.

11. Follow your gut. It’s your instinct for a reason.

12. Try new things — foods, adventures, travels. You never know what you’ll fall in love with. (Like ice skating, for me.)

ice skating

Snow, wind & ice. Lots of ice. Enjoying some time on the pond — the best part of winter.

13. Respect your values and beliefs. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, it’s OK to walk away. (Read: Gray Area: Do Ethics Still Have a Place in Business?)

14. An interview is a two-way conversation about an opportunity. Relax.

15. The devil IS in the details. Handle those and the rest will follow.

16. Do something special for yourself monthly, or more often if you can. Because you’re worth it. (Thanks, L’Oreal.)

17. Don’t project your bad day outward. Just because you’re in a bad mood, everyone else doesn’t have to be.

18. Social media’s great, but get social in real life too. (Read: Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL)

19. Embrace the mundane. It’s 80% of life. (Listen: This is Water, David Foster Wallace)

20. If you feel like getting dressed up to go to the store, go for it. Likewise, if you head out in workout gear, it’s no big deal. Life doesn’t hinge on what you’re wearing. (Granted, there are occasions where your dress is dictated by the occasion. Embrace it.)

21. Sometimes, you can buy happiness. Just don’t try it all the time.

22. Value those close to you. Don’t take them for granted, because some day they won’t be there.

Color Run Akron 2013

My sister-in-law, brother & I after Color Run Akron.

23. Make the extra effort. It usually pays off — even if no one’s watching.

24. Have a strong handshake, a genuine smile and a killer pair of earrings. (Gentlemen, I hear cuff links produce the same effect.)

25. Laugh a lot. It’s the best medicine, and you don’t need a prescription.

Yours truly, enjoying the moment

Yours truly, enjoying the moment.

26. Don’t waste too much time worrying. It really doesn’t change things.

27. Think through major decisions but don’t be afraid to act. Indecision can be paralyzing and leave you watching from the sidelines.

28. Be impulsive every once in awhile. Do something crazy at least once in your life.

29. Celebrate birthdays. Age brings wisdom and life experience. Appreciate them.

30. Think — every single day. It never goes out of style.

31. Listen to your body. It’s amazing what it can tell you.

32. “Never being satisfied” makes a great motivational poster but leaves you feeling empty inside. Always wanting more can leave you broke and alone. Enjoy your achievements and appreciate what you have. Remember, perfection is unattainable.  (Read: What’s your riddle?)

33. Be genuine in everything you do. It’s easier in the long run, and people will appreciate you for it. Eventually, you’ll even find people who like you for who you are.

“And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…”  –Lester Burnham, American Beauty

stick em up!

Bonnie & Clyde… back in the day.

I’ve never really grown up (vertically challenged here), but I have learned a lot. Like a good hat can make up for just about anything, even a really crappy day.

Share Your Lessons

What lesson(s) have you learned?

Do any of these lessons resonate with you? Do you disagree with any?

Maybe we can all learn to navigate this crazy thing we call life a little better.

Cheers,
Jaime

Life lesson: Connect with others!
Facebook logo Google+ logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo

Survival Skills for the Real World

Welcome to the first post of 2014! I hope you all enjoyed ringing in the New Year.

Happy New Year from CCC!

During this time of year, people around the world resolve to learn new skills and achieve goals they set for themselves. So I thought it was interesting when I read an article in the November 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine that focused on skills you should have in order to navigate this crazy thing we call life.

Related reading: Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Here are the five skills featured:

  • how to be alone
  • how to take a compliment
  • how to keep a conversation going
  • how to ask for feedback
  • how to remember names

Do you agree?

After reading this article, I realized that these skills were necessary in business as well as life. Whether you’re attending a networking event, dealing with co-workers or clients or working on an important solo project, these skills will keep you on top of your game.

Related reading: Boomers to Millennials: Your Generation Sets Your Communication Style

I would like to add two (or three, depending on your view) skills to this list: the ability to give and take constructive criticism and listen. It may sound strange, but I haven’t met a whole lot of people who dole out constructive criticism well. Criticism? Yes. It’s the constructive part that’s often missing. Listening also seems to be a lost art in our society today.

What do you think?

What other skill is necessary to navigate business or life?

Would you remove any skills from this list?

Chime in. Let’s get this 2014 party started!

Cheers,
Jaime

2013 or 2014, we’d still love to connect! 
Facebook logo Google+ logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo