Developing a Kindness Program

Developing a Kindness Program

The success of a kindness initiative is bolstered by careful implementation and adaptation as a company and its culture evolve.  Elements of successful kindness programs include:

  • Understandable/Transparent – ensure it’s easy to understand the approach and value of the program; it aligns to/reflects core values; mission and goals are communicated
  • Comprehensive – apply and promote across organization’s full workforce; consistent top-down evidence and support in conjunction with bottom-up support and practice
  • Measurable – use quantifiable ways to measure success (e.g., baseline measures, metrics, surveys, target goals); included as part of people surveys and in staff exit interviews
  • Accountable – leadership must be held accountable and responsible for success; model behavior, promote and mentor, correct non-representative behavior, and reward/recognize target behavior
  • Adaptable – program must adapt with workforce changes, changes to the company strategy, and as expanded innovation and increased staff-generated opportunities occur

Investment in a Kindness Program

As with any initiative, there are associated implementation and maintenance costs that must be considered. Below is a listing of some of the most common forms of business investment that need to be made in kindness programs based on Booz Allen Hamilton’s research:

Leadership Commitment – there must be tangible support by leadership through demonstration of commitment in practice and not just talk.
  • Measured/reviewed in performance reviews, as part of core performance criteria
  • Public acknowledgement and recognition
Adoption and Incorporation – the initiative must be adopted and incorporated not only as part of an organization’s employee engagement practices but also an intrinsic part of the corporate culture; part of core values, mission, and vision.
Resources – examples of most successful programs have dedicated staff resources, a key leader with clear role assigned; focus resources to provide ongoing support of the initiative
  • Successful companies leverage partners (e.g., industry partners, vendors, consultants, foundations)
Communication – there must be dedication to ongoing communication of the initiative and not just limited to the launch.
  • Tell/share stories, showcase caring and success of staff of all types
Adaptability – in order to be sustainable, the initiative must adapt to changes in the organization.
  • Companies experienced “ground swell” and “organic growth and expansion” of kindness-related practices, communication, and community events over time; grew without increased spending on the initiative, but needed to be monitored, supported, and integrated into the business and employee culture.

The table below provides a breakdown of factors involved for each stage of program implementation:

Example Blueprint and Timeline for Implementation

Key steps in the development of a kindness program include defining the goals of the program, the methods to achieve those goals, and indicators for measurement and evaluation tied to the programs.  Examples of these key steps are found below:


  • Foster a culture of kindness
  • Allow leaders to demonstrate commitment to employees
  • Improve support of employees at all levels
  • Empower employees to identify and implement organizational change to culture

Methods to Achieve Goals

  • Instant peer recognition programs
  • Donation programs
  • Incentives and bonus tied directly to behaviors that demonstrate values of kindness

Measurement and Evaluation Indicators

  • Retention and turnover rates
  • Self-reported commitment to stay with organization
  • Employee engagement
  • Customer engagement
  • Employee satisfaction/morale
  • Employee resilience/adaptability to change
  • Employee innovation
  • Employee trust in organization
  • On the job performance
  • Sick time taken

The implementation timeline for a kindness program can also be as detailed or as broad as necessary.  The example timeline below denotes major monthly undertakings in executing a kindness program:

Employee Involvement in Workplace Kindness Initiatives

Employees, too, can promote and get involved in workplace kindness programs by:

  • Working with company staff to develop and launch kindness initiatives in the workplace
  • Participating in employee surveys to provide feedback regarding workplace kindness
  • Serving on company advisory boards to promote workplace kindness programs
  • Setting a good example by fostering workplace civility among co-workers