Sara was sick of watching everyone sulk around the office all day. They were just so miserable all the time, and it affected her mood.
Overall, they were a great team with only a few issues hindering their performance, but just looking at their frowning faces and furrowed brows made her miserable.
That nasty mood had a domino effect. Greg would come in with a frown because his wife refused to let him go out again, and by lunchtime, the entire office was sulking. And as predicted, Sara was sulking too, by 1 pm.
Leaving her office and having to walk past them was something akin to the measles after the scabs have been picked off.
But one afternoon, her attitude in the toilet, as she wrote a check to her favorite charity, it dawned on her just how great she felt every time she did something for someone else.
What she did know but had not taken the time to reflect that it was perfectly normal as human beings are givers by nature.
As a matter of fact, the research has shown that people who glean the most happiness as a result of their generosity are more likely to give again. That’s what Sara had always done, and it gave her great joy each time she gave to those less fortunate.
So Sara decided to do a little experiment with her team. She gave everyone a small bonus that week, and inside the paycheck envelope was a note stating: “This bonus is for you to do whatever you wish. Keep it for yourself or give it to someone who may need it more.”
Both Harvard Business School (HBS) and the University of British Columbia did a similar experiment, where participants were given a small amount of money and a choice to spend or give.
On Monday, about half of the office came in smiling. Some of the employees thanked her and told of what they did with the unexpected bonus, and some didn’t. She had a pretty good idea of who spent their bonus and who gave it away.
So she continued giving the bonuses each month.
No More Furrowed Brows
Sara noticed the employees that had donated their bonuses continued donating, even though they had less to give than she did.
She realized that you don’t have to have a lot to get a benefit from giving. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a paper that proved that even in countries with much less than the United States, people were happiest when they donated to others (even though it often took away from their own needs).
Sara’s conscious act of kindness changed the entire mood of the office. The newfound happiness of those who were donating regularly influenced even those who didn’t. Everyone seemed happier. They were all benefiting from the “positive feedback loop” between happiness and kindness.
Those who gave were happier, and because they were happier, they gave more. As the loop continued to grow, so did the happiness of everyone in the office and everyone around them. Happiness was contagious….
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to giving @ the office:
- Giving doesn’t have to be monetary. Giving of time, resources, or support can induce the same effect. Encourage your team to show kindness to one another as well as those outside the office environment.
- One person’s bad mood tends to affect others. Just like a germ, one person’s foul feeling will infect everyone around them. Make sure you are kind and compassionate whenever possible. This will go a long way toward boosting the mood of the entire team.
- Kindness and happiness are a cycle. Kindness leads to happiness, and happiness brings more kindness. Give to others and give often to keep reaping the benefits of both.
Previously published on LinkedIn.
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