Random Acts of Kindness Day takes place next Sunday and people all across the UK are getting ready to join in this international movement to spread goodwill. From formal fundraisers to fun runs to free food stalls, Britain will be doing its bit to raise awareness of the power of kindness on February 17th. 

2019 is the first year the traditional Random Acts of Kindness Week will be focused on just one day but the hope is most of us will celebrate, not only for 24 hours, but the entire year. Established in 1995, RAK is a not-for-profit organisation based in Denver in the US and is dedicated to inspiring everyone to practice kindness. 

Participants are encouraged to go outside their normal comfort zones to make others aware how kindness can have a positive impact on the world around them. No matter how big or small the act – from holding a door open for a stranger to being sponsored for a fun run or from buying a homeless person a sandwich to volunteering at weekends for a local charity – the idea is to change our daily habits for the better.  

Some are already spreading joy and combatting loneliness by signing up to Great British Valentine project. Amy Pollard, originally from Bristol, started the system of sending best wishes letters after being inspired by Mexico’s Valentine’s Day, which isn’t so much a celebration of romantic love but of friendship and goodwill. To get involved, people sign up to the project and are randomly allocated a person to write to. The sender is also be added to the list so someone can prepare a card for them. 

In celebration of the big day, we’re taking a look at how to be kinder in the workplace, to the environment and, last but not least, to ourselves. Without doubt the easiest and best place to start is with a smile. We all know the natural reaction when someone smiles at you is to smile back and this can create instant positive energy. The simple movement of muscles in our faces releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling. This automatically lowers stress levels, which improves our mood: a bonus in any workplace.  

A warm smile also indicates someone is approachable. This is important in any environment but especially if you work with the general public – such as in retail, customer service or healthcare. People are more likely to engage with and trust someone they recognise as being friendly. 

Another easy way to show kindness to colleagues is to say thank you more often. This isn’t just about being polite: be specific about what you’re thankful for and say it with genuine emotion. Perhaps it’s thanking the IT support worker for fixing a software glitch or a call centre agent for helping a customer understand a new product – we all feel better about ourselves and our work when we’re shown appreciation. 

Much more than a kind word is formal recognition for a job well done. Whether it’s the HR assistant who goes above and beyond the call of duty for employees, a secretary whose admin work ensures a company runs smoothly, or a maintenance engineer whose attention to detail keeps a factory and production operatives at peak performance, it pays to recognise achievements. This could take the form of a monthly prize or a shared email highlighting the employee who’s made the most positive impact in the workplace. 

In education, too, implementing a kindness programme allows teachers to create an environment for optimal learning. Classroom lessons that put kindness first and foremost enable students of all ages to grow more aware of how this quality affects others. It also creates an atmosphere of collaborative learning. 

Of course, education doesn’t stop after school or college. Mentoring in the workplace is another ideal way to show how a helping hand can inspire others. Aspirational employees need the experience of more senior staff to learn new skills, avoid potential pitfalls and adopt work habits that boost their performance.  

Being kind to colleagues, no matter their experience, can also mean being kind to the planet. For example, why not promote green ideas in the workplace that reduce waste and boost efficiency? This means everything from recycling paper to setting up car sharing schemes. Even bringing in some pot plants is great for creating a better atmosphere; not only do they add colour but you’ll also breathe better – and working together to nurture greenery can be a team-builder that helps the company grow and thrive too. 

Volunteering is also a great way to bring work colleagues together for a shared goal. A team leader in sales, for example, can inspire employees to hit targets and reach goals in just one afternoon of volunteering. The sharing of kind acts, such as helping at a homeless shelter, instils a sense of camaraderie and motivation.  

And don’t forget, if you’re in management, rewarding good deeds helps you build a happier workforce – so give employees some time off once a month to dedicate themselves to a favourite project. 

Finally, be extra kind to yourself by expanding your horizons this year and forging a new career… all thanks to the many job vacancies on offer online.