Thursday, December 4, 2014

Work Morale: Random Acts of Kindness

After coming into a leadership position at work a year ago, I have tried to focus on work morale.  Some things I have tried have not really seemed to make an impact, while others have seemed fun for a short while but then died out. 

One of the challenges I was having, was activating the staff to take ownership of the work environment themselves, without having much of the focus and energy coming from myself. 

In October, we had an office "retreat" day where we focused on themes and projects that needed our attention as a group.  We usually have 1-2 retreats per year.  At this retreat, we worked on workplace culture.  We developed a culture statement that we have on our bulletin board.

One of the points of the culture statement has to do with generosity.  We talked about the importance of generosity defined as "We withhold no good thing from our patients, colleagues, and community."  We also talked about the value of people: "We recognize the value of individuals, a value that is separate from performance or behavior. People do not 'earn' value by performing with perfection."  This was important in our setting because we work in a highly regulated environment and had also spent quite a bit of time developing expectations for performance.  We needed to separate any thoughts that we value employees only because of "bottom line" issues. 

Random Acts of Kindness
One thing I challenged everyone to do in the office this year, is to do random acts of kindness for their colleagues.  I wanted these to be small acts that were "unearned" by any performance, and that were anonymous.  There would be no dynamic of needing to "repay" someone because they did something nice for you. 

Like some other ideas, I wasn't sure if this one would be embraced by the staff, or feel burdensome.  But, embrace it they have!  This idea has taken off like wildfire.  Not only are people feeling the impact of unexpected kindness, but it has stirred everyone's creativity and innovation.  Employees are thinking of inventive acts of kindness and also inventive ways to "deliver" their kindness.  For example, one employee came in early and used string to rig up a hanging gift for someone as they opened their door. 

What ideas have found successful in your workplace?