Kindness and the ‘Bottom-Line’

Where’s the profit in kindness?

A wise person once said, “Profit is an outcome.”

Great leaders know that profit is an outcome of doing the right things for employees… customers… partners… and shareholders.

What are the ‘right things’?  Doing the right things for all stakeholders means treating people with respect, decency, honesty, and with kindness.

Kindness promotes positive feelings in the workplace. In study after study, positive emotions at work have demonstrated a powerful impact on the bottom line for most organizations.

In a Gallup survey of over 4 million employees from more than 30 different industries, individuals who receive regular recognition and praise (e.g. ‘acts of kindness’):

  • Increase their individual productivity
  • Increase engagement among their colleagues
  • Are more likely to stay with their organizations
  • Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers
  • Have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job[i]

Kindness fuels creativity.

In his book, Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman suggests that positive feelings or “feeling good lubricates mental efficiency, making people better at understanding information and using decision rules in complex organizations.”  Goleman also points out that positive emotions in the work place make employees behave more ethically and perform more cooperatively in teams.

People are starved for appreciation and kindness.

The US Department of Labor reports that one of the primary reasons people leave their jobs is because they “do not feel appreciated.”  Another poll found that a staggering “65% of Americans reported receiving NO recognition for good work in the past year.”[ii]

In the ‘grand-daddy’ of employee engagement surveys, the Gallup organization suggested in 2003 that “there were more than 22 million workers – in the United States alone – who were extremely negative or actively disengaged.”

Although these findings  are somewhat dated, consider the costs of these negative emotions in 2003 dollars.  According to the 2003 Gallup study, employee disengagement costs the US economy “between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity.  Add in workplace injury, illness, turnover, absences, and fraud that are directly related to the ‘actively disengaged’ and the costs to US businesses could surpass $1 trillion per year.”

That’s one trillion dollars!  Imagine what these disengagement costs are in 2011 dollars.

Kindness is not a trivial luxury or the province of woolly- headed idealists.  Great leaders understand that acts of kindness can have a direct impact on the positive well being and morale of their organizations.

It’s a rather small step to suggest that positive morale significantly increases the productivity of most businesses.

The ‘Bottom Line’ – more kindness means more profit.


[i] How Full is Your Bucket, Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, Ph.D, Gallup Press, 2004, p. 28

[ii] Gallup Management Journal, August 2003

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