By Meredith Wood, Fundera
Every small-business owner seeks a return on investment (ROI), no matter what they’re spending on. For every business dollar invested in a new piece of machinery or SaaS, we hope to make something back. It’s sound business sense.
But there’s another metric business owners are paying more and more attention to – return on kindness (ROK). Kindness is a powerful tool that can take you much further than a quick buck.
What Is Return on Kindness?
In The Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships, Jill Lublin explains how kindness works as a type of currency that builds equity for yourself and your business – almost like a type of credit.
Think about why you return to certain businesses over and over again. It’s usually because they've shown you excellent customer service, right? A business that prioritizes a customer’s needs will earn that customer’s trust, which can lead to referrals and future purchases for free.
Here are five types of kindness your small business should be practicing more often:
1. Connectivity in the Workplace
Ever notice how the word kindness contains the word "kin," which means one’s family and relations?
Bringing kindness into the workplace means building authentic relationships with your employees and your customers. Creating a positive environment with kindness as a key part of the company culture leads to long-term loyalty and genuine motivation.
2. Gratitude for Accomplishments
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, CEO of The Energy Project Tony Schwartz says, “Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter – that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we're recognized for it.”
Gallup has found that 67 percent of employees are happier and more productive when managers focus on the positive aspects of their performance. So make sure you're acknowledging the hard work of your employees and recognizing their accomplishments as well as giving constructive feedback.
3. Generosity to Everyone
Speaking of gratitude, showing your thanks is one of the most profitable business strategies you can practice. And one of the advantages of running a small business is your ability to show generosity one-on-one through loyalty programs and the general treatment of each and every customer.
Researchers Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino studied the impact of a sincere "thank you" in the workplace and found that people who received praise offered to help 50 percent more often as a result of appreciation. Lublin recommends showing generosity with "thanking, compliments, and praising."
4. Compassion for Those in Need
We've all heard the horror stories of employers who refused to give paid maternity leave. These people could learn a thing or two from some of the most successful people in business, like Tony Robbins.
According to Rodger Dean Duncan, the author of Change-Friendly Leadership, “During 40 years of consulting and executive coaching, I've worked with hundreds of leaders. The ones who were world class… had some characteristics in common – smarts, a sense of vision, a deep understanding of their business, willingness to make tough decisions. But one quality demonstrated by the best leaders I've known is seldom recognized: kindness.”
Genuine compassion cannot be faked. Leaders must exercise authenticity when building relationships.
5. Positivity in the Face of Difficulty
Positivity is actually contagious. The very act of being positive toward another person releases the chemical oxytocin in the recipient's bloodstream. In addition, our "mirror neurons" cause us to replicate the actions of those who interact with us.
Lindon Crow, president of Productive Learning, thinks, "As a leader, the way in which I walk into the door has the ability to leave a trail of carnage or a trail of inspiration and motivation."
By living out his own values, he believes that he can foster his employees' mission of kindness, and they will in turn positively impact their clients.
Positivity encourages employees to handle their problems and find meaningful and impactful solutions.
The Profit of Kindness
How do you begin to develop a culture of kindness and build up the goodwill that gives you a return on kindness? By thinking of kindness as an investment, for one thing. It makes good business sense and is worth investing in over time.
Commit to building equity for your partners, your clients, and your customers. Being kind on a daily basis is not just an act of goodness – it can and will pay dividends in the long run.
About the Author
Meredith Wood is the head of content and editor-in-chief at Fundera (@Fundera), an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident finance advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.