We are on the right track to a safer working environment in Singapore having introduced safety regulations, awards and training programmes in recent years. However, transformation of an organisation’s culture has to happen from the inside out rather than the outside in. Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Transforming an organization effectively to create a safety culture from within begins with the transformation of individuals. Research from Applied Futures and Cultural Dynamics, which has been conducted for more than 30 years, suggests that the best way to change individual and group behaviour is through values inculcation. Here’s where kindness comes into the picture.
Here are three ways how kindness can contribute to a safer workplace.
Firstly, the essence of kindness is to be other-centered. Kindness is defined as “any voluntary action with an unselfish intention to benefit others that comes from the heart, and does not expect anything in return.” It is about caring for the interests of others and not merely oneself. In today’s fast-paced and competitive society, many of us often fail to exercise kindness and recognize others' acts of kindness at work. However, when we think about others, we will look out for one another and remind each other to be safe. With such an attitude, we are also less likely to be agitated and make hasty decisions that could lead co-workers to be caught in risky situations.
|Look out for one another|
Kindness in the workplace also creates greater synergy and lasting friendship within the team. Martin Luther King once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” We spend more than half our waking hours in our workplace and perhaps even see our colleagues more than our families. Therefore, it is important to have bonds of friendship to support each other through the pressures of work, and make the workplace more pleasant and caring. We can start by greeting and smiling at colleagues in common spaces. After a period of time, this can transform into longer conversations and spark a friendship. Too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or a helping hand, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. At the Singapore Kindness Movement, we believe in synergy, which is about teamwork. We are convinced that Together Each Achieves More (TEAM). Though we have sectors and each has a primary focus, we give permission to call on one another to help in our respective sectors when there is a need.
|Together Each Achieves More (TEAM)|
Kindness is a simple concept to practice. Perhaps it is too simple, one might think, to provide a solution to the complex challenges we face in the workplace. Creating a kind, healthy and safe workplace starts with just a “MITE” of effort by ordinary Singaporeans to make a difference through kind acts of their own:
Model kindness in our speech and actions
Inspire others who notice it
Transmit kindness by spreading the message
Empower others when we celebrate acts of kindness
Challenge yourself to start, show and share kindness at work, and see what difference it makes!
First published in Safety Matters Issue 1/2014, a publication of the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers.