Today we are sharing a piece written by Nathan Jackson. The piece is entitled, 'The Importance of Kindness at Work'.
Nathan is the Founder of a Community Interest Company, Mental Health Monster. You can find out more about them at their website: Here
You can find Nathan at Mental Health Monster on Twitter: @MHealthMonster and on LinkedIn: Here
Over to Nathan:
The Importance of Kindness at Work
I’m Nathan, Director of Mental Health Monster CIC, and I’ve written this blog to try and explain the importance of being kind at work. At the time of writing, I’m 21 years old and have only just graduated from university – so I still have my whole professional/ work life ahead of me. But in my very short history of employment, I believe I have seen enough to recognise just how significant kindness can be. I’m going to share with you the story of how I came across this realisation.
An anxious mess. That was the result of an equation featuring a teenage me and a workplace. At the elderly age of 16, I was lumbered with a minimum wage job in a hotel with other people that also did not want to be there. It is safe to say that I found it hard to enjoy.
This wasn’t anything to do with the early starts, the job requirements, or even the people that worked there. Ok maybe slightly to do with the early starts, but at 16, being able to earn some sweet cashola was great! However, I couldn’t enjoy it because of the monster that was out there to attack my mental health; more commonly known as anxiety.
From endless thought spirals and crumbling under pressure to the more uncommon symptoms such as short-term memory loss and the frequent need for a ‘French yes’ (oui). These followed me through my customer service roles and interfered heavily for a while. Whilst I did become better at dealing with it all, it was slowly chipping away at my self-esteem, motivation and subsequent work ethic before I went off to university.
After lasting less than a year at university I came home and made some major changes to my life. These included seeking mental health support (which is where I initially found out that I had been suffering with anxiety all these years) and finding a new job for the summer. This is where I realised the importance of kindness at work.
In this new job, again at a hotel (we’ll call it ‘Remier Pinn’) I got to work with the most amazing team. They were helpful, driven, funny and most importantly, they were kind. What a team to be a part of. Because I was able to be a bit more open about the things that I was struggling with at work (because I now knew the reason behind them), it became such a good environment for me to grow and learn.
When I say that they were kind, it wasn’t always anything major. Just the little things were enough, such as refusing to dive into any of the workplace ‘chit-chat’ that often occurs at the expense of other people, recognising that everyone is doing their best, helping each other out where necessary and being accommodating to both myself and everyone else. That was so important to me at the time.
All of this created a proper culture of kindness in the workplace. So much so that it became a place I wanted to be at, I wanted to help out where I could, I made a point of being kind to others, as did everyone, and our team subsequently became an unstoppable force.
During my very short time at ‘Remier Pinn’, I went through two very traumatic events and experiences. The second of which was the tragic passing of my uncle, as he unfortunately took his own life. It’s safe to say that I was not at all prepared for the grieving process that was about to ensue. It definitely was not/ is not an easy thing to deal with.
However, a couple of days after my uncle’s passing, I arrived at work on time and in my uniform ready for the hardest shift of my life, in the worst mood of my life. I remember stopping to take a breath before I went into the office to collect my key card. Braced and upset, but ready to put a face on for the day.
I opened the door and saw my manager sat down on the computer. She swivelled on her chair and seemed stunned to see me. ‘You shouldn’t be here’, she said. I was so relieved to hear this. The brave face that I was going to muster together was gone in minute one. ‘Take as long as you need’, I was told. I left straight away, still in the worst mood of my life, but encouraged by the fact that I wasn’t going to struggle alone.
So one thing that did help at the time, even if only in the slightest, was that I knew I didn’t have to worry about work. I knew that the team would cover for me. Even though they had done previously, I didn’t think that they would come to my rescue yet again. But they did.
This act of kindness was quite a biggie and occurred under exceptional circumstances. But it really opened my eyes to what kindness could achieve. That team at ‘Remier Pinn’ had created such a big culture of kindness that it was the absolute norm.
Their kindness had meant that it was easier to manage the symptoms of anxiety at work that had held me back for years. It also helped to develop my confidence significantly and it made those traumatic experiences just that little bit easier to overcome.
Ultimately, I left for my second crack at university a much more confident, experienced and kind person. Without kindness in that particular workplace, at that particular time, I don’t think I’d have achieved half as much in terms of personal growth as I have today. Nowadays I get to work with the most kind, amazing and accommodating people on a daily basis!
Finally, the truth is that you may never know the true extent of what someone is going through, sometimes they don’t even know it themselves (as was the case with me). But if every workplace was as kind, imagine how many people’s lives could feel easier. How many people’s clouds could feel lighter. How many people would be able to reach their potential and grow as humans. And, lastly, wonder how many teams could have felt as unstoppable as ours. That is the importance of kindness at work.
Thank you so much to Nathan for sharing this piece, reminding us that we never know what someone is going through and of the importance of showing kindness as a default, at work and in life.
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