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KINDNESS: YOUR NEW COMPANY VALUE?

Author: Julie Jarvis

Published date: 2020/11

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Organisations acknowledge that values are a critical tool in guiding employees in a direction that ensures both individual and company success. It’s during challenging times that values are truly tested, with many companies making the mistake of pushing them aside to instead focus on the problems at hand. 

An August survey conducted by Hall & Partners found that 58 per cent of the 1,500 global employees polled believed that the kind actions taken by their company during the crisis have made them want to stay for longer than they originally planned. The wider findings of the report indicate the power of kinder human responses in establishing greater employee engagement and loyalty. 

The survey prompted a collaboration between Hall & Partners, Saïd Business School, Global Thinkers Forum and Women of the Future to explore the value of thoughtful leadership in a crisis. The whitepaperKind Leadership During a Crisis and Beyond details how kindness underpins any and every response required to help an organisation successfully navigate the pandemic and keep staff happy and engaged. 

“Kindness has always been essential to leadership. It is how we inspire teams, build relationships and imbue work with purpose,” writes Vanella Jackson, Global CEO of Hall & Partners. “The COVID-19 crisis, combined with impassioned social movements that have led us to reassess our core values, has magnified that quality. Kindness defines what an effective, modern leader should be.” 

So, should kindness be your new value? 

Not necessarily. When it comes to reassessing company values in the wake of the pandemic, it’s not as simple as slotting ‘kindness’ in there. Looking back at the Hall & Partners survey, 62 per cent said it’s more important to be optimistic rather than candid, and 69 per cent agreed resilience takes priority over compassion. It indicates that the concept of ‘kindness’ takes on different forms depending on the type of challenge a business and its employees are facing.

Now’s the time for businesses to seize the opportunity to review or reinforce values that indicate how they are supporting workers physically and mentally as we move forward. So, what values demonstrate kindness in 2020? 

Communication

A key value for many organisations already, communication is critical at all times, but especially during challenging periods. Providing employees with regular updates when they’re facing job insecurity and potentially difficult family situations is vital. Hence, companies need to provide greater clarity on business continuity and long-term recovery strategies to invoke confidence and engagement in their workers. 

Flexibility

The pandemic forced many employees to work from home during the lockdown periods. With the survey finding that 45 per cent of employees worldwide want more flexible work options, employers must seek ways to accommodate this permanently. Providing flexible working practices for employees who may have care responsibilities or health concerns, demonstrates empathy and, crucially, kindness. 

Recognition

We know that employees who feel valued and recognised for their contribution to a business are more effective and productive. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that employers make recognition a key element of their value proposition, especially for employees continuing to work remotely whose work may go unobserved. Companies should make it a priority to reinforce that their people are an integral element of success and growth, as well as the key driver for positive change. 

There have been many lessons for leaders in 2020, leading them to reassess what they stand for and believe in. One thing’s for certain, being kind is not an option, and it’s not as straightforward as telling people that you operate in a considerate manner; you must prove it, even if that requires changing processes, operations and, of course, attitudes. 

Employer branding during and after COVID-19

How businesses handle the impact of coronavirus on employees will have a lasting effect on employer branding in the years to come. Our free eBook - Great Expectations - looks at the changing needs of employees in a post-pandemic world. Download your copy today.