​Is your organization a place of caring and respect? Are you, as an individual, a person of kindness and respect?

Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to be part of an HR team that has made a conscious decision to foster caring and respect within the culture of our organization. We have implemented programs to cultivate kindness and respect, and we have seen them pay off.

Not only is kindness a matter of good principle, but it also creates a culture that attracts and retains great talent, especially in a tough job market. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to the Born This Way Foundation’s February 2022 Kindness in the Workplace Survey said they were more likely to apply to a job posting that listed “kindness” as a significant value of the company.

Another report, published by the American Psychological Association, found that those who receive kindness at work are 278% more likely to pay it back than those who don’t receive kindness.

As my colleague Missy Lawrence, Principal Consultant at Information Services Group (ISG) and organizational culture expert who works with our clients on “the human side of digital,” puts it, companies need to build resilience and adaptability while addressing at the workplace. culture to retain and optimize their key asset: people.

Companies that address the human side of digital create psychologically safer environments, a prerequisite for organizational agility and high performing teams.

Kindness as a strategy

We’ve all had a co-worker or leader who made no room for kindness in their leadership style or approach to work. A person like that often has this excuse: “It’s not my personality to be warm and fuzzy.”

However, kindness is not a personality trait. Kindness is not a character trait. Kindness is a virtue that every human being should possess, regardless of personality or leadership style. Even for the toughest, it’s there somewhere.

Bruce Pfau, who retired as Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of KPMG, an audit services firm in New York, once told me, “Kindness is often the missing ingredient in a high-performance culture Many corporate cultures emphasize integrity, decisiveness, intelligence, teamwork, urgency, and tenacity, all of which are necessary but not sufficient. The best companies also foster kindness and empathy; that completes the formula for workforce engagement and consistent business success.”

Pfau implemented several “kindness-focused” programs during his tenure at KPMG, and his guidance remains helpful in our journey.

My organization started with this specific principle, recognizing that kindness is a virtue possessed by each of our employees. With this recognition, we knew we had to create a platform that encouraged our employees to do kind things.

We started a simple program called ISG Cares that encouraged our employees to give back, help others and share with their communities. Instead of partnering with just one charity, we encouraged our employees to support the charities of their choice.

Within weeks, our staff had a positive impact in their communities with organizations such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, disabled veterans groups, Books for Africa, food banks around the world, educational institutions, cancer research charities and many more.

Kindness as a mark

After launching ISG Cares, we created a brand ambassador program for employees. This has enabled each of our 1,400 employees to leverage our digital platform to share their stories of kindness with the world. We’ve made it simple: one app on their phones, just the click of a button.

The snowball of kindness has grown. We’ve gamified the Brand Ambassador program with monthly rewards, point ranking, and leader recognition. Two and a half years later, the program continues to be a banner of pride for our employees and a reminder of the kindness of our colleagues.

These programs reinforce the importance of caring and provide our employees with the opportunity to better understand each other and discover our unique passions. They cross cultures, religions, genders and ethnicities.

Kindness as an approach

Rudeness, negativity, and mean behavior can spread like cancer. There’s no room for meanness in a successful organization, so be prepared to make tough decisions if an employee is negative or downright mean.

Ideally, you can offer coaching or training to encourage someone who exhibits negative behaviors. Often people see the weight of good and kindness in your culture, and they usually self-correct. If coaching, mentoring, training, or self-correction isn’t happening, be prepared to cut ties with the employee.

Lead by example. The fastest culture changes start at the top. We were fortunate that our leadership led the way with the ISG Cares and Brand Ambassador programs. With a CEO, CHRO and VP who are personally involved in community support activities and demonstrate kindness in their personal and professional lives, our programs have instant credibility.

It was our CEO, Mike Connors, who stood next to me at the office celebration when my husband and I finally became parents after a grueling three-year adoption journey. It also matched 100% of all ISG employee donations to Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for relief in Ukraine.

Our CHRO, Tom Kucinski, is one of the most charitable people I know. His humility would prevent him from sharing it himself, but he is personally involved in more charities than I can count.

Likewise, our vice president, Todd Lavieri, runs a program called ISG Food for the Holidays, reallocating funds for holiday parties that were canceled during the pandemic into monetary donations to food pantries in six cities. ISG Cares is real.

As Pfau said, “The best companies promote kindness and empathy; that’s what completes the formula for workforce engagement and consistent business success.”

Chances are you already know and experience the power of kindness, respect, and empathy. Accept the challenge of living it every day.

Gordon Smith-Bouler is the Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Information Services Group (ISG), a leading global technology research and consulting firm in Stamford, Connecticut.