Creating a culture that makes it easy to be kind

  • Liz and Vernon, standing in the doorway of his home
    Pathways to Housing PA Service Coordinator Liz, visiting Vernon at his home

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It can be represented by a good deed, good turn, favor, act of assistance, service, help, or aid. So why don’t we do more of it, especially in service organizations?

 
I have a theory – one that upsets me, but it has led Pathways to be different. Kindness, in our business, sometimes costs a little money. It sometimes takes up more time than allotted. It can mess with a carefully planned schedule. There are organizations that penalize staff when time or money are spent when needed, without going through a ton of red tape and getting the approval of five supervisors and then waiting for a check to be issued in three to five days.

It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Kindess can light up your day and the day of the person on the receiving end. It can lead to someone making positive decisions about their future and their care. It can, sometimes, save a life. 
 
So how do we, as an agency, create that culture – a culture of kindness? Here are some suggestions:
 
  • Support your staff in being kind in their work. If they are on the streets doing outreach and need or want to buy lunch for a client, then make sure they know its okay and they'll get reimbursed quickly. If someone needs socks, they should feel comfortable in the moment, running into a nearby store and buying socks. If a client needs an unscheduled ride to an appointment, give your staff the flexibility to be accommodating.
  • Talk about things like kindness, grace, hospitality and being welcoming on a regular basis with your employees. As we talk about such things, and the language becomes part of our work vocabulary, everything we do, every word we speak, will be within a framework of grace and kindness.
  • Put art on the walls of the office. Offer coffee and tea. Have comfortable furniture available for participants. Use color, like an accent wall, to brighten the space where you serve people.
  • When folks come to us for service, we should welcome them like we would a guest in our home. Never underestimate the power of food. If you ask people to come to a meeting or event, and it interferes with a meal time, feed them. Whether staff or clients, providing food shows an effort to take care of your people and sets the tone for a good experience overall.
 
Go ahead. Make a kindness list. Talk about it openly. Stand back and watch the magic unfold.
 
-Christine Simiriglia, President & CEO

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