What do you do when your company culture doesn’t meet your expectations? An “ordinary” employee may be tempted to join the masses who are looking for a new job. But if leaving isn’t an option or your preference, it’s possible to shape your working environment and build a kinder workplace even if leadership does not. 

Practice one small daily act of kindness

Small things matter. Choose one small act of kindness to show to your coworkers every day. Make it a to-do. In a hybrid work environment, send a Slack, email, or text to a coworker thanking them for something they did or telling them something you appreciate about them. If you’re in the office, share these words in person or bring a colleague a cup of coffee to build a kinder workplace. The benefits of kindness will have a ripple effect on those around you. 

Listen intently

Misunderstanding happens when conclusions are made quickly. If you’re focused on sharing your opinion or ideas, listening becomes secondary in a conversation. To build a kinder workplace, practice your listening skills. Remove the distractions of your phone, computer alerts, or other people and tune in to your colleagues. Demonstrate that you’ve heard them by showing the right type of listening for the situation. 

Start your day well

How you start your day impacts the way you show up for the rest of the day. Build a kinder workplace by starting your day off right. Wake up with enough time to prevent rushing. Make time for breakfast, enjoy a leisurely shower, and journal some things you are grateful for to shift your mindset and prepare for the day ahead. Even when things don’t go your way, you are more likely to be proactive instead of reactive to the people around you during your workday.  

Choose empathy

Empathy is a primary skill to build a kinder workplace. Creating a culture employees love means sending a message that “we’re all in this together” to those you work with. When a coworker seems to be struggling or your manager is short with you, remember that they’re human, too. Know that there’s likely more to the situation than you know and demonstrate this understanding with gentle words or quiet companionship to show you care.

Make an effort to connect    

The pandemic forced us into isolation. Now, as opportunities arise, make an effort to connect with others in your workplace. Organize a game night, happy hour, or casual time over lunch to connect. Events can take place over Zoom or in-person and provide unstructured time to relax, have fun, and let your guard down. Without regular interaction with other people, you will fail to thrive. Elevating your relational wellbeing builds a kinder workplace. 

It’s possible to build a kinder workplace even if organizational leaders aren’t leading the way. You can be the change. 

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi