Is Kindness in Business Really a Performance Indicator? Plus – 5 ways to find out

Written by Jackie Hoegger

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

                                                                                                                       -Mark Twain

KPI. Key Performance Indicator.

It’s a phrase every business operator knows. A key performance indicator is any important measurable factor that gauges how your business is doing. It might be revenue, cash flow, capital investment, stock performance – anything you can assign a value to.

A new KPI has entered the alphabet soup of business acronyms.

Kindness Performance Indicator


Yes. For the past few years, a growing number of professionals have begun to believe that kindness within businesses has value.

They’re not talking about just gathering your team around a box of donuts for a chorus of Kumbaya but creating a real culture of kindness within your organization.

That’s all well and good, you say, but does it have tangible, measurable results?

First, let’s consider some workplace facts:

–  More than half of all American workers are unhappy in their jobs

–  The leading cause of job dissatisfaction is a lack of basic recognition, i.e., being underappreciated.

–  Underappreciated and disengaged workers cost the economy about $350 billion a year in lost productivity.

Grim, right? But here’s where the kindness indicator might come to the rescue.

Paul Gilbert is head of a successful legal consulting firm and an advocate of kindness as a performance indicator.

He writes, “if kindness can be framed as a metric that enables people to be more effective, we have a fighting chance of rebalancing our workplaces.”

So, let’s add a dose of kindness to the picture.

University of California researchers performed an experiment in which 14 workers at an industrial facility were instructed to perform random acts of kindness to fellow workers. These were small acts, like leaving thank you notes or bringing coffee. Within a month, workers reported they were happier, developed a greater sense of camaraderie, and felt more competent in their work.

The study also revealed improved prosocial behavior among workers and that acts of kindness became “contagious”.

Studies show that happy workers are more productive than disgruntled ones, have lower absentee rates, stay with their employers longer, and are more loyal.

The concept of kindness as a performance indicator might be a work in progress – but it’s worth a shot.

Here are 5 ways to go about it:

  1. Put kindness at the core of your team’s culture.
  1. Involve your entire team in developing your kindness strategy through personal exchanges of ideas. “We Will Be Kinder!” email blasts from the boss are counter-productive at best.
  1. Expect challenges and hard work, but also expect results from your kindness commitment.
  2. Regularly survey your employees’ experiences with your kindness plan and always review the results as a team.
  3. Make kindness the core to building a deep relationship with your clients and customers.

Making kindness a core of your operation may be especially wise in these times of economic uncertainties, political and social unrest, and worries about personal wellbeing. Your team, your clients, and your customers will appreciate that you care.

“Kindness always wins.”

                                               -Jay Leno

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