It’s easy to see how acts of kindness can be contagious in a lab setting, where work stress doesn’t exist and the worries of the world aren’t weighing on you. But a new study published in the journal Emotion and discussed in Research Digest shows that the ripple effects of kindness spread in a real-world workplace, too.
Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, studied giving between workers in a Coca Cola office in Madrid, Spain. They told the mostly female group of employees that they were participating in a happiness study. Participants had weekly check-ins to report how they were doing in terms of mood and life satisfaction as well as noting positive and negative behaviors they engaged in or received. Nineteen of the workers were secretly asked by the researchers to be “givers,” performing random acts of kindness towards their fellow employees. How the givers choose to show gratitude and kindness was up to them.
The findings show that being nice in the workplace really does make a difference. Those who were on the receiving end of acts of kindness reported engaging in nearly three times more prosocial behaviors than the control group (who didn’t get any kindness extended to them) by the end of the month-long study. The participants who were shown kindness were likely to pay the act forward, not just giving back to those who were nice to them from but rather giving to others.
The effect that all of this kindness had on the givers was even more uplifting: they showed higher levels of life satisfaction, job satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms than the control group.
By the end of the study, the kind gestures were coming from many people in the office, not just the workers assigned the role of giver. Next time you’re having a bad day at the office, do something nice for a coworker. You might find that it makes a big difference not just for you, but for your whole team.
Read more about the study here.