Kindness tends to be dismissed as an old-fashioned characteristic, conjuring up images of cozy cups of hot cocoa and a sympathetic ear. The truth, however, is very far from that. Although kindness may seldom be identified as a cornerstone of corporate culture or appear on the list of desired attributes for a high-performing recruit, it should be.
For entrepreneurs who are building a new venture from the ground up, intentional kindness is one of the most powerful, strategic and accessible tools of all. It also lays the groundwork for the retention and recruitment of top talent.
I have always believed that people do business with people they like, admire, respect and trust. And kindness is a wonderful attribute to enhance business relationships.
Rebuilding Trust and Collaboration
Kindness jumpstarts trust and commitment. In a time that many companies operate in a hybrid environment, and seldom are all together in person, it’s imperative to find ways to identify meaningful forms of kindness.
Those grappling with the Great Resignation or with motivating employees to return to the office will find that an organizational commitment to kindness can be an efficient way to advance goals, including productivity and innovation as well as reduce turnover rates and health benefit costs. In fact, it typically costs 33 percent of a worker’s annual salary to replace them.
Reputationally, the attributes of kindness have a beneficial effect in building valuable long-term relationships with partners, clients, investors, suppliers and a community of stakeholders.
The best part: implementing a culture of kindness doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. It can be achieved with tools that both large and small organizations already have on hand.
At Peerage, where our business model is to partner with passionate entrepreneurs across North America and provide them with the resources to accelerate their growth and expand their reach, a kind culture is always top of mind. That is because it plays a critical role in creating informal connections and corporate community across distance and diverse markets.
It also just makes you feel good. Being kind feels even better when you’re the one delivering it.
Corporate Kindness 101
Here are a few steps I think leaders can take to reinforce that culture of kindness:
• Ensure that younger employees are matched with mentors to support their growth, but also encourage long-time employees to learn from those who are newer to the organization.
• Be intentional about sharing the values and principles of the organization and articulate opportunities to engage. Whatever the role, new individuals should feel welcomed – it can be as small as officially announcing their arrival with an all-staff email introduction.
• A “one size fits all” strategy doesn’t work. It’s important to be inclusive and understanding that everyone’s experience is different. Lead with compassion and make sure your organization is openminded to employees’ unique experiences.
• Find a common purpose. Put an emphasis on good work in the communities where you operate. While helping others – whether it is a local food bank, Meals on Wheels, youth programs – reinforce internal cohesion, bring employees together in common purpose, and make a difference.
• Be grateful. At Peerage, because the leaders of our partner companies are spread out across North America, we begin many of our meetings by sharing something for which we are grateful. It is a quick way to level-set and get a read on what is going on in our partners’ lives, what they are dealing with, or what they are concerned about.
• Share “kudos.” When anyone comes forward with a good idea, make a point of publicly acknowledging that contribution and thanking them.
• Keep learning. If there are courses or professional accreditations that improve employees’ knowledge and credentials, explore paying for that additional education. I’ve found that the investment in education always pays off.
Sometimes, the smallest gestures are the most meaningful: I have always believed that compliments, expressions of appreciation, words of gratitude, and other thoughtful gestures are very powerful and meaningful to the motivation of my colleagues.
At Peerage we always recognize birthdays, work anniversaries, and other personal milestones. The bottom line is: it’s not only highly profitable, motivating and impactful, but most of all, it just feels good!