Kindness is Good for Business

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Home > Articles > Kindness is Good for Business

 Kindness is Good for Business

William Wan | Today's Manager
September 5, 2016

​Kindness and performance are not mutually exclusive. Practising kindness and graciousness at work can lead to better performance and profitability.

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape, kindness appears to be irrelevant. It can almost be seen as a hindrance which possibly slows us down and dulls our competitive edge. That is what some may think. But I would like to suggest that kindness is good for business and is more relevant than we think.

Many behavioural studies have shown that practising acts of kindness has a positive effect on a person’s happiness, satisfaction in relationships, and even one’s physical and mental health.

Here’s the science. When we are kind to others, our brains “reward” us by releasing a mixture of chemicals, including dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin which makes us feel good. 1 In fact, it has been found that doing a kind act not only bestows a sense of satisfaction on the receiver, but also the one who performed the act, and all those who have witnessed it.

But what does that have to do with achieving business objectives? What is the benefit to us as employers and employees to practise kindness and graciousness in the workplace? Is it simply something that is “good to have” but not essential, or deemed unimportant, compared to the need to scale up our performance and increase the bottom-line?

The truth is, kindness and performance are not mutually exclusive. In fact, practising kindness and graciousness at work can lead to better performance and profitability. Researchers at the Harvard Business School found that happy workers who enjoy their work and have fun working together perform their jobs better.

Professor Teresa Amabile and Mr Steve Kramer of the Harvard Business School found that “People are more productive, creative, committed, and collegial when they have positive emotions… and when they are motivated by intrinsic interest in the work itself.” 2

According to The Huffington Post 3, “66 per cent surveyed say that positive relationships increased their productivity and 55 per cent say that positive relationships mitigate on-the-job stress levels.”

When kindness and graciousness are deeply rooted in the corporate culture, the business will profit from higher levels of employee engagement, greater synergy and loyalty, and more fulfilling working relationships. This translates into a more motivated workforce and
lower staff turnover, so employers can better retain talent. Furthermore, engaged and invested employees will be more proactive in innovating and creating solutions for the organisation, whether these be for external marketing or for internal processes. The net result is higher profitability in more ways than one. In sum, kindness is good for business.


About Kindness@Work

Since 2013, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) has been promoting the Kindness@Work programme to various organisations. We invite corporate leaders to consider initiating Kindness@Work for better psychological and emotional wellness in the same way that wellness and healthy lifestyle programmes have become de rigueur in human resource management practice.

The Kindness@Work programme is an internal initiative aimed at generating happier and more gracious workplace environments in Singapore. It involves putting the three pillars of graciousness—consideration, courtesy, and gratitude into action at the workplace. The programme can be implemented through a series of workshops and keynote talks. SKM also offers various resources for organisations to start their own in-house kindness
activities and initiatives, or to adapt and fit in elements of Kindness@Work into the  ompany’s own existing employee engagement programme.

For Singapore to become a gracious society, the transformation begins right within our organisations. Employees who are unhappy at work often vent their frustrations on their families and in common shared spaces in the community. Conversely, happy and engaged workers can spread the kindness and graciousness they feel in the workplace into their other relationships and interactions. Spreading kindness should be our corporate social responsibility. And it starts with each one of us, with leaders and representatives of organisations taking initiative and responsibility.

The end goal is to make Singapore a better place for everyone to work, play, and live in. For more information on the Kindness@Work Programme, please E-mail the Singapore Kindness Movement at

1 Hamilton D, 2011, 5 beneficial side effects of kindness, The Huffington Post,

2 Connecting Happiness and Success, Increasing productivity and profitability with happiness,

3 Hall A, 2015, The key to happiness at work that has nothing to do with your actual job,



Dr William Wan is a Justice of the Peace and General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM). He was a senior partner of a regional law firm and
a managing director of a psychometric company headquartered in the USA.


Copyright © 2016 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 3, 2016

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