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Kindness as a Superior Approach to Human Resources (HR) Management

By CO Staff @canadaone |

Remember that ogre-boss you worked for? Think back to the employer who used scare tactics and coercion to prod productivity, never said thank you (or please) and seemed to enjoy the minute-by-minute monitoring of lunch hours and coffee breaks. Think back to how easily frustration and resentment sank in and how the stacks of unending paper and piles of complaints looked gargantuan and more difficult to complete than they actually were.

We've all had to endure at least one of these employers-from-Hades in our lifetime. Chances are, though, that the company could have avoided the stress-laden environment caused by strained employer-employee relations had they implemented a proper HR strategy.

Olivia McIvor, a human resources specialist with B.C.-based Kyosei Consulting International, said that it is particularly important for SMEs to develop solid HR strategies with an aim to lowering violence in the workplace, boosting overall productivity, morale and employee retention. Even if SMEs don't have a huge budget for a human resources department, she said, it doesn't take much to cultivate the respect and wellness that bring people together – and keep them together – as a group.

Kindness is key. "You can't just go in and say, 'OK, we're just going to be kind to each other,' … that's pretty lame," McIvor explained. "It has to be a systematic, coordinated and cognizant effort by everyone concerned."

One inexpensive and effective strategy, according to McIvor, is the Kindness to Kolleagues Program because it focuses on interweaving kindness into three areas that are integral to any organization:

  • Within the community – These initiatives include involving your business in some form of community service, giving back to the community through charity work. Employees either donate their time by performing volunteer services or support a cause through financial assistance.

  • With colleagues – These initiatives focus on programs that foster mutual care and respect or activities designed to eliminate racism and sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • With oneself – Nurturing one's body collectively is the primary aim of this initiative. More and more organizations are getting involved in fun-runs and wellness programs so they can reduce stress, increase fitness and simultaneously network among themselves and with other community members.

"It's just not a nice, fluffy word," McIvor said. "There are a lot of real workplace issues where kindness can be used to deal with worker retention and recruitment, and if people decide not to use it, it will cost them a fortune in the long run."

Mari-Lyn Hudson, human resources specialist with Y2K (Yes to Kindness), said that work-based relationships don't have to degenerate to stress-laden and intolerable levels. In fact, what will distinguish businesses in the new millennium is the sense that employees will know and feel they are appreciated because of who they are, not just because of what they do for the company, she said.

Hudson offers a few cost-effective and simple suggestions designed to improve the employer-employee working relationship:

  • Limit gossiping
  • Smile at your colleagues
  • On occasion, have a diversity potluck lunch
  • Drop off a treat at someone's desk or bring in a weekly treat that everyone can share
  • If you're getting a coffee, offer one to your colleague(s)
  • Listen to someone when they speak to you; don't continue working while they are speaking
  • Say thank you or send someone a thank-you card
  • Try asking others about their hobbies outside of the job
  • Keep a notepad and jot down random acts of kindness that you receive – make a list of the kindness-givers and purchase a small prize in recognition of their efforts
  • Share not-so-pleasant office tasks
  • Walk an employee to a car after hours
  • Tell your boss how much you appreciate them and the support they give you

"It's not necessarily what you do, but it's who you are that will count most in the new working environment," Hudson said. "What's important is to nurture the sense of wellness and encourage colleagues to feel confident and happy with their development and that they're surrounded by caring colleagues."

For a free, user-friendly information package about implementing kindness in your workplace through a human resources strategy, visit (click on workplaces). It provides sample posters, notices and creative ideas to help cultivate positive working relationships within your company.

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