Companies are always looking for ways to improve worker engagement, but that requires a certain level of emotional intelligence. Here’s where the Human Resources department can help. Adding a touch of kindness to your HR practices can go a long way.

Kindness is Contagious

Kindness is contagious, according to well-documented research. When we see someone be generous to another, it inspires us to be generous as well. Eventually, generosity spreads like wildfire, bringing people closer together as a tight-knit community. If you incorporate a culture of kindness in your HR policies, you can expect similar results. Not only will employee morale increase, but the workplace will be a welcoming and warm place for all employees.

Consider incorporating the World Kindness Movement into your workplace. The World Kindness Movement (WKM) is a non-profit organization that was created in 1997 in Tokyo, when Japan brought together various kindness organizations from around the world. The WKM is now a global phenomenon that includes over 27 nations with representatives to the organization, including the United States, United Kingdom, China, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand and various others.

The organization seeks to promote kindness and corporation in all aspects of life across the world. This applies to your HR department too. Kindness in the workplace can add value, monetary and otherwise, in many unseen ways. Take, for example, an initiative taken by Mercedes-Benz USA to create a culture of kindness. When Stephen Cannon became president and CEO of the German automaker’s US division, he realized that the success of the company was more than just vehicles.

“It’s about taking a leap of faith” Cannon said. He told to Harvard Business Review that employees should be encouraged to make acts of kindness a part of the business. In one case, a customer got a flat tire on the way to her son’s graduation. She hurriedly rushed into a Mercedes dealership, but was told that there were no replacement tires for her car. The service manager simply removed a tire from a new car on the floor and used that to replace the mother’s tire.

Cannon explained that “there is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary.” In the case of the woman on the way to her son’s graduation, the service manager acted quickly but acted with kindness. And that made all the difference. Cannon explains that a culture of kindness doesn’t just raise morale, it brings a sense of pride to workers and customers alike.

Below are a few ideas on how to bring kindness into the workplace. What are some ideas that you have?

Ideas to Incorporate Kindness at Work

  1. Get to know each employee, learn about their interests and what is important to them. When it comes time to reward, pick something individual to them based on their interests. Employees feel important when you really see them and support their interests.
  2. Recognize employees’ efforts and achievements and personally thank them. Acknowledgment and gratitude go a long way and help promote kindness.
  3. Allow employees to choose a pro bono project each year. Give them the time off to complete the venture. This simple act goes beyond the workplace and spreads kindness into the community. You also allow your employees to take the lead on a project that is important to them and you give them ownership over it.
  4. Allow flexible work hours. If you allow flexible work hours, employees won’t agonize over school-related events, sick family members or their annual ski trip with friends.

Incorporating acts of kindness into the workplace doesn’t have to be big. You can start small. No matter what you decide to do, I can assure you that it will go a long way in creating a better, more productive environment where ideas are applauded and relationships are strengthened.

Marie Zolezzi, CEO and Founder of ZM Ventures has contributed to the HR functions of many large firms in the Silicon Valley, Intermountain West and the Pacific Northwest. Marie is a skilled HR practitioner with unique expertise in HR business partnering, conflict resolution, employee investigations, one-on-one coaching and organization management. She is also a skilled board advisor to the Board of Directors needing input from an HR thought leader. To contact Marie Zolezzi, send an email to

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