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Can the ‘ripple effect’ of culture and kindness lead to a brighter future?

This Stress Awareness Month, Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL examines how the ‘ripple effect’ of culture and kindness can lead to a better future for us all.

Kindness and culture shape all of our lives in ways so profound that we scarcely realise how they impact on our actions, attitudes and overall wellbeing, which is particularly poignant this April, as it’s Stress Awareness Month.

Their influence stretches far beyond our own lives, as they are intrinsically intertwined within society, communities and of course business; so much so that we often take both for granted, without recognising their enormous value to the world around us.

Take businesses for example; without a strong purpose, mission, values and company culture there would not be a positive and inclusive environment where people feel valued, are productive and give their best.

Inversely, a poor workplace culture inevitably leads to staff retention issues and low satisfaction. In this way, it’s often experiences of culture and kindness within businesses and the world of work, which then ‘ripple’ through into our communities and beyond.

Perhaps it’s also true that sometimes bad situations that rock both kindness and culture to the core, can also lead to a ripple effect of increased focus on the importance of both virtues. Take the Covid-19 pandemic for example, which led to global lockdowns, which impacted all of our personal and working lives.

During that time we all experienced the inverse of culture and kindness – isolation, exclusion and in some respects intolerance. Yet one global study by BBC Radio 4 and academics of 60,000 people across 144 countries, entitled ‘The Kindness Test’, found that two thirds of respondents believed the pandemic had made people kinder.

It’s often the case in business too, where we experience best practice from a ‘people perspective’, which shapes our lives far beyond the workplace. Research by Harvard University this year highlighted the benefits to employees of being compassionate on health and personal relationships, but also how incredibly beneficial it is to professional success.

Over my 30 years in business, as the Founder and former Chairman of an international pharmaceuticals business, as well as through my other business ventures, I’ve felt that community engagement and a corporate social responsibility focus helps create this ripple effect. This in turn delivers so many non-financial benefits for the business, our people and society as a whole.

My businesses have always separated kindness and community related activities from commercial targets. Often these activities bring about great benefits, which support commercial activities in terms of motivating teams, as well as aiding employee recruitment and retention.

I see kindness and culture as one entity, which both work in tandem to bring about positive change. Kindness is a universal language that transcends cultural boundaries and brings people together, while culture provides a framework for expressing kindness in a way that is meaningful and relevant.

The culture of a business is paramount and always comes from the top. The leaders must live and breathe this every day, which in turn knits workplace communities together. This ripple effect then spreads into the wider community, who then encourage others to follow suit – fostering a more positive and inclusive environment for us all.

It’s also important to highlight that culture and kindness isn’t limited to internal interactions. It extends to external relationships too, particularly in this digital age, where a thought leadership presence on social media can be so beneficial to brand. Companies which go the extra mile and demonstrate true ‘kindness’ without any commercial strings attached, will nurture their followers into advocates, who in turn provide a ripple effect of positivity and loyalty to the brand.

Positives to come out of these internal and external approaches to kindness are the improved mental health of our people and by association their families and friends; building stronger relationships, and of course fostering a mindset of compassion and giving back. While culture provides the context and values that guide our expressions of kindness and acts of inclusivity.

It’s clear, even in today’s fast-paced and rapidly changing world, that the ripple effect of culture and kindness is essential for the success of our businesses and the communities they serve – creating a more positive and harmonious society where we all can thrive.

If we all take a moment to cultivate culture and kindness within business, just imagine the impact on our future individual and collective well-being.

Surely this makes good business sense, not just for Stress Awareness Month, but far beyond?

www.randalfoundation.org.uk

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