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Preventing bullying through workplace kindness 

Published: Thursday 12th November 2020

According to a study, more than 70% of UK employees have been bullied at work in the last three years. And although many employers believe, they have all the right policies and procedures in place to prevent workplace bullying, the research reinforces that bullying at work is still not taken seriously enough and that more needs to be done. Given the very real impact of workplace bullying on long-term mental health, could workplace kindness be the solution? 

In light of the Anti-Bullying Week and World Kindness Day, we explore possible ways that being kind can have a positive impact on your company culture. 

Can workplace kindness tackle bullying? 

Apart from the need for HR departments to overhaul their grievance procedures and make themselves more approachable, incorporating workplace kindness tactics within your company culture can help tackle bullying. In fact, perhaps, one of the best ways to combat bullying is to focus on kindness. If people begin to treat each other with respect and become more intentional in making others feel valued and appreciated, maybe we can start to see a decline in bullying.

Encouragement concept, workplace kindness, mugs with smiley and sad face.

When people are encouraged and motivated to change their thoughts and actions through kindness and compassion, it fosters the positive behaviour that’s expected. Therefore, promoting its psychological opposite is key in reducing bullying to create inclusive workplace environments. By encouraging more acts of kindness at work, employers can help neutralise and reduce bullying. 

How to create a culture of kindness at work 

Creating a culture of kindness doesn’t take a big budget or extensive planning. Here are four simple ways that employers can inspire and instil kindness into their company culture.

Develop a sense of gratitude

A demonstration of gratitude is both a kindness itself and a response to kindness. It’s what keeps employees paying it forward. But for those who haven’t practised gratitude before, it can be difficult to start. Before gratitude can become part of company culture, it should first be an emotion and then a habit. To work towards developing this habit you can start simply by supplying your employees with a thank-you card.

Colleagues working together in the office and having a coffee break, colleague offering a brew

Recognise what matters 

Recognition is one essential form of gratitude and comes from leadership. There are many ways to recognise employees. Apart from the obvious solution which is a pay raise, public displays of recognition can give the whole staff a buzz and prove really effective. Other ways of showing that you value your workforce could be offering a corporate gift. 

Embrace random acts of kindness

Studies suggest that out-of-the-blue kindness can be just as effective as regular expressions of gratitude and recognition. These acts can boost happiness and wellbeing for both the givers and receivers. If company-wide kindness is your goal, you can develop it quickly by encouraging random acts across departments. The acts can be as simple as holding the door open, making a brew for your team member or sharing a small treat.  

Provide honest and meaningful feedback

Feedback can be a huge motivator when done correctly. Discussing weaknesses one-on-one and supporting your staff in finding a solution to foster professional and personal development, shows how much you care about them and their careers. The key here is to keep this conversation affirming, thoughtful and constructive. Of course don’t forget about positive feedback, too, especially when it’s related to kind behaviour. One of the best ways to boost kindness in your company is to recognise and compliment kindness when you see it!

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