What Is World Kindness Day And How Can You Celebrate At Work?
In a world of turmoil and polarization, it’s a great time for more kindness, more of the time. And World Kindness Day is just what you need—to honor, to celebrate and to inspire kindness in action.
You’ve built kindness routines into your life—paying the order of the person behind you in the drive through or doing errands for an elderly neighbor—but building kindness into your work holds power as well.
Since we all spend so much time at work, our experience there has ripples in the rest of life—hence it’s a great place to experience kindness, compassion, empathy and generosity.
And your power to influence kindness is significant. The primary way people learn is through watching, listening to and experiencing others, so your actions, choices and demeanor have an effect—a big effect—on those around you.
What is World Kindness Day, and when is World Kindness Day celebrated? It is a day observed internationally on November 13, but for many, its importance warrants a whole week—so you may experience Kindness Week, starting on the 13th.
Established in 1998, the day was intended to highlight positive actions in the community focused on our bonds with each other. In addition, it’s designed to bridge the distances between all kinds of differences—and encourage unity and empathy across people and groups.
Why is establishing a kind work environment so important? Many reasons. Far from fluffy, kindness has big impacts in work and life. For example, it contributes multiple aspects of wellbeing (physical, cognitive and emotional), based on a meta-analysis representing almost 200,000 people published in Psychological Bulletin. Kindness also reduces depression and anxiety, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University.
In addition, a workplace that is kind, is one in which people can bring more of themselves because they feel respected and valued—and in this environment there is room for greater innovation, collaboration and contribution. With kindness and respect, people can take greater risks and push for accomplishment, knowing others care and have their backs.
Here are five ways to celebrate World Kindness Day at work.
One of the first ways you can celebrate World Kindness Day at work is to tune in, focus and be empathetic. When you’re busy and things are moving fast, it’s easy to get caught up in your own life and priorities—but kindness puts others in the foreground.
In fact, happiness is linked with attentiveness toward others. When you’re making an effort to contribute and make a difference for others, you’re more likely to feel a sense of joy.
This is related to empathy as well—imagining what someone might be thinking or feeling based on what they’re going through. When people feel their leaders and workplace are more empathetic, they report greater engagement, innovation, work-life satisfaction, retention, inclusivity and cooperation.
Kindness—concern for others, compassion and supportive action—is clearly related and can have similar positive effects. So pay attention to those around you and the kindness you can offer.
Building on your attention to others, be broad in how you demonstrate kindness. Be kind toward all kinds of people in all kinds of roles. Offer a kind smile to the person you don’t know well, or express compassion for the close friend you have at work. Demonstrate caring toward those who are in a different place on the hierarchy, in a different department or working in a different region.
Also be kind in numerous ways. Offer help to the co-worker who is struggling with a difficult customer situation or trying to solve a tough problem. Offer an encouraging word to a colleague who has been working long hours to bring a big project to completion.
Invite a newer teammate for coffee or to join you and the team for lunch. And if a colleague needs additional information or coaching, offer kindness in the form of your guidance.
Beyond individual action, what are activities that employers can initiate to celebrate World Kindness Day? Some employers celebrate by doing kindness fairs in which they bring in multiple community agencies and give people the opportunity to learn more about each of them, and how employees can offer kindness through volunteering or through charitable giving.
Celebrate World Kindness Day by being intentional and taking action. Seek out opportunities to ask questions about what someone might be going through or how you can help on an assignment. From offering a listening ear to helping on a tough task, kindness is best demonstrated through your actions.
You can also express kindness by advocating for colleagues. Make a point of expressing appreciation for the work they do or the way they powered through an issue on behalf of the team. Go to bat for a coworker or reinforce how much great work they do when you have the opportunity to compliment them in a team setting or with leaders.
Since expressing kindness is as good for mental health as receiving kindness, some employers celebrate World Kindness Day by organizing kindness efforts for employees or community groups who may need help. For example, teams organize to bring food to an employee who is ill, rake leaves for elders, spend a day at a food pantry or work with a school to read to children in the afternoon. Any of these intentional and coordinated efforts contribute toward a kinder culture.
In addition to bigger efforts which demonstrate kindness, it’s also impactful to be kind through small actions. Even the most seemingly insignificant action can mean a lot to someone else—because it shows you’re present, grateful and sharing the work experience together.
If you prioritize kindness, you’ll be in good company. In fact, people are generally feeling more compassionate and taking the time to check in on those they care about—fully 67% of people—according a series of polls conducted by The Harris Poll.
At work, you can express kindness in small gestures—like grabbing coffee for someone on your team while you’re making a trip to the cafe, or offering to update them on the meeting they had to miss.
Some companies take the simple step of serving cider and donuts (or another treat) to employees during World Kindness Week in order to express gratitude for people’s time, effort and contributions.
Another fundamental way to celebrate World Kindness Day (or week) is to expand your kindness across every day and every week—not limiting it to a short period of time.
Adopt an attitude of kindness in which your go-to reaction to people is to give them the benefit of the doubt, empathize with them and seek ways to reach out with compassion. Establish routines of kindness in which you do things repeatedly and with your own brand of kindness.
Focus on customers who are especially demanding because of the pressure they’re under, and offer kindness through your check ins or follow up actions. Seek out new employees and offer to provide coaching on the culture.
Outside of work, focus on the elderly and regularly offer to hold the door. Or when you’re shopping, make it a habit to catch the eye of stressed out parents who may need a nod or a kind smile of encouragement. Establish a goal of doing three kind things every day.
Pick the routine that works for you, but make it part of how you behave on an ongoing basis—both at work and outside of work as well.
Kindness is good for people and good for business, but it’s especially good for societies. We want to live and work in places where people care, and where we are respectful and appreciative toward each other.
And you can have a huge impact on others, no matter what your role. How you interact has influence—and people will take cues from the choices you make and the behaviors you demonstrate.
So be kind on World Kindness Day—and all the days—for yourself and for your friends, family and colleagues.