Small acts of kindness at work benefit the giver, the receiver and the whole organisation

Posted on July 6, 2017

A new study carried out by the researchers from the University of California headed by Joseph Chancellor studied workers from Coca Cola's Madrid site to look at how kindness does ripple outwards from a good deed within a real life working environment.

Participants were told they were part of a happiness study, and once a week for four weeks they checked in to report how they were feeling, in terms of mood and life satisfaction, and their experience of positive and negative behaviors, including how many they had carried out towards others, and how many others had made towards them. Four weeks later, the participants completed further measures, such as of their happiness and job satisfaction. 19 of the participants were in cahoots with the researchers - they were assigned to be 'givers', whose task each week was to perform acts of kindness towards some of their co-workers.

Results show that the acts of kindness had a significant impact. The receivers observed more prosocial behaviors in the office and by the end of the study, they were reporting ten times more prosocial behaviors than the controls. One month after the study ended, the receivers were also enjoying significantly higher levels of happiness than controls.
Giving was itself rewarding, and on some indicators more rewarding than receiving. The givers’ one-month followup measures were also more impressive than the receivers’: they enjoyed higher levels of life satisfaction and job satisfaction, and fewer depressive symptoms. This suggests that in this context, giving had a more durable effect than receiving. Finally, and consistent with past lab studies, the research showed that receivers didn’t just enjoy acts of kindness – they paid them forward. By the end of the study, the receivers reported engaging in nearly three times more pro-social behaviors than did the controls.

This contributes to the idea that there is a strong contagious quality to prosociality, in much the way that phenomena such as rudeness and even obesity have been shown to do. Workplace acts of kindness – freely chosen – appear to be a way to create virtuous cycles within organizations, benefiting the recipients, the givers, and the climate at large. Kindness does have a ripple effect, so just get it started, and watch it blossom all around you!


Category(s):Positive Psychology

Source material from The British Society


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