The concept of ‘paying it forward’ – a good deed being propagated time and time again – has more scientific grounding than many had originally thought. The power of giving and receiving has been reinforced in an inspiring new study by researchers at The University of California.

The Study:

The study used a group of mainly female workers across a range of departments in Coca-Cola’s Madrid factory. The group were told they were taking part in a happiness study and each day they checked in to explore how they were feeling. This involved current mood, general life outlook and any activities that had positively or negatively impacted them throughout the course of the day.

kindness studyTowards the end of the study, the group carried out a more thorough satisfaction survey, which also included how they felt about their role and the overall ethos of the business.

Unbeknownst to the other study members, a section of the group were assigned the role of givers – it was only this group that knew of the true intention of the study.

Every week the group of givers were asked to show a random act of kindness to the receivers but to refrain from showing any kindness to the control group. The givers had free reign to choose the type of kind acts they would carry out, and examples included making someone a drink and sending a thank-you note or giving kudos – something we believe to be a very good strategy when encouraging a feeling of inclusivity and wellbeing in your teams.

The results of kindness:

A month of extra acts of kindness was certainly felt and the receivers observed more pro-social behaviour – behaviour intended to benefit another – in the office. In fact, they reported ten times the level of pro-social behaviours than the controls.

In addition, this group also reported feelings of autonomy, while the control group felt their autonomy dip. One month post-study, the receivers were also experiencing significantly higher levels of overall happiness than the controls.

The givers also felt a shift from the study. As we’ve seen many times, giving can be as rewarding, if not more so than receiving and the giver’s one month follow-up session saw even higher levels of happiness and job satisfaction than the receivers. They also felt the benefit of their autonomy and competency, which in turn elevated their sense of wellbeing.

The study also found that receivers didn’t just enjoy acts of kindness, they paid them forward. By the end of the study, receivers engaged in almost three times more pro-social behaviour than the controls.

How can you encourage acts of kindness in the workplace?

  • work satisfactionHave a kudos system which encourages team members to give praise to their colleagues. The praise can either be sent anonymously or read out at the end of the week meeting
  • Create a peer to peer mentoring scheme which encourages team members to actively support each other
  • Harbour a culture of openness and inclusivity in all you do
  • Pay kindness forward yourself and watch how this ripples through your team

Ready to make workplace wellbeing a priority? Get in touch to see how we can help you to create happy, productive and profitable teams.

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