@ Paddl
6 min read

Spread the Love: Celebrating Valentine's Day with Kindness at Work

Kelly Tagalan
Head of Growth Operations

Valentine's Day is often associated with romantic love, but it's also a great opportunity to spread kindness and show appreciation for the people we work with. In our teams, networks and within the broader workplace, acts of kindness can go a long way towards building positive relationships and creating not just a more pleasant work environment, but a productive and engaging work environment.

1.Provide regular feedback and recognition for good work.

I have to say that this sounds like such a basic, but really taking the time to thank people for their time and contribution to the team, or a bit of feedback after a meeting can go a long way. I was recently showered with the coveted unicorn and sparkle emojis in a slack chat, and I have to say, it made my day. I also had a team member leave me a post-it on my screen while I was away, complimenting me on my recent approach on a difficult phone call. Being the someone that chooses to make someone feel good, means you are helping them find the motivation and ability to make it through a hard day, a difficult sprint, or a challenging project. Small gestures can be impactful.

2. Offer opportunities for career growth and professional development.

You might think of some of these opportunities as big effort, but the effort here can be small, and you don't have to be a department leader to make a big impact- for example, giving someone who doesn’t often get a spotlight to take a chance to present their ideas. You can also create an opportunity among peers to share some tips and hints on a weekly basis, celebrating internal expertise. I recently connected with a Head of Learning and Development that said in their global company, peer to peer lunch n learn has been a fantastic impact on their engagement internally. Sharing an insightful report, inviting someone to a talk, or bringing someone along for a workshop might be an excellent opportunity you both to upskill.
Speaking of upskill… you can always count on Paddl to have your back and continuously develop you, and your team cross innovation essentials for the year!

3. Create and contribute to a positive and supportive work culture.

What does a positive and supportive work culture look like? It can vary workplace to workplace, and even department to department. Some of the basics might include giving a chance to debrief after a difficult meeting, reinforcing support and commitment to your team even in the face of bad news. In a volatile job market, taking the time to reassure your team and model supportive approaches is important. The above is essential if you are working remotely. At Paddl we make a habit to debrief together after external meetings where possible. This provides an opportunity to reflect, share observations, relay praise or positive feedback, and to move forward as one team.

4. Be considerate with work arrangements, such as WFH, and flexible hours.

Most workplaces aren’t tone deaf and know this is important, but understanding what flexibility means to an individual is pretty important here.

Aside from the standard work from home arrangement, it can be recognising Flex Time for time worked outside of regular business hours, compressed work week, or even reduced work hours (see the 4 day work week being experimented now) and unlimited time off.

What does this look like at the individual level? Being flexible with the times you make available to meet, gracious if meeting format changes, and respecting the time someone is allocating for you by preparing, and being present is a gesture of respect and kindness that will likely be reciprocated.

5. Provide opportunities for connection and relationship building through social interaction.

This one is key, and especially if you work remotely, you have to get creative. At Paddl, we have a weekly wrap up Paddlife drinks. There is a lot of laughter, endless jokes from development about AI, and even some cheeky happy hour beverage sipping. This works for us. In other workplaces, I’ve seen a weekly group lunch, team trivia midweek, and sponsored volunteer work to be very impactful. Keep in mind not everyone has time or capacity outside of work to be social, and mix in opportunities that coincide with or break up the workday. People with carer duties, long commutes, or circumstances that aren’t immediately apparent should be included. Always be flexible with day, time and concept. Definitely consider alcohol free environments and be inclusive.

6. Support people in your team, your company or industry who have been made redundant

I read that the way to describe the professional and economic climate is VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. If you have a connection with someone who has been thrown into a VUCA situation at work, this is an opportunity to be extraordinarily kind. Making time for a coffee, being an empathetic listener, and really trying to help that person process their feelings when their job is suddenly gone or in question can be really critical.

One of the ways I can show people I support them through their journey is to be a friend, a referrer, a connecter and a cheerleader. That’s what works for me. I’ve got a great network, and you’ve got great skills- why not the two shall meet? I’m also working on an initiative to support 100 people to get access to free upskilling and support via Paddl- check out our Open To Work campaign.

7. Show gratitude through appreciation events or rewards programs.

We recently sat down and had a rather formal, but essential conversation laying out the future of the Paddl employee share scheme. Once the formalities were taken care of, we were able to move to the aspirational portion of this scheme- outstanding contribution and effort will be recognised materially. This is so important and yet hardly actioned in companies! In a previous role, I pitched the idea of an MVP recognition program, focusing first on the qualities and the intentions of the individual before performance. This is a show of recognition that moves beyond ‘top performance’ recognising the many cultural and practical contributions your team members are bringing to the table.

If you're not seeing this in your organisation or team, start among your peers! Shout coffee for a junior who helped troubleshoot the tech in a meeting, bring a home baked plate of grandma's biscuits for your custodial and janitorial team in thanks for their contribution. Praise your colleague who saved the client meeting with persistence and grace.

8. Celebrate employee milestones, such as birthdays or work anniversaries.

In a workplace with 4 generations where topics such as tenure can yield a variety of opinions, make sure that you are recognising milestones that reflect contributions beyond time spent behind the desk. First week, first month, first year- remember that orienting and integrating into a new team or department takes an enormous effort from not just the new hire, but a whole team. Celebrating bringing someone in is a way to recognise many aspects of your team and contributions. I worked in an office where a graphic designer would incorporate people and their hobbies, faces, and even some of their personality into a large format display image across our big screen in the common area. A birthday or anniversary speech was made, and appreciations were shared. What I liked about this quirky ritual was seeing that the whole individual was being celebrated. Their interests, passions, and even some inside jokes were brought forward as a way of recognising the whole person that came to work in this business. Tip- you could use AI or Canva to do this- no expert required!

9. Support peers who need extra support, and consider opening up if you are getting support.

Almost every employer I’ve had will grant access to an EAP program, which can vary by quality depending on the provider. Giving your peers and team members time to address issues around grief, illness, and stress (workplace related or not) is central to recognising the human experience in a modern workplace.

At Paddl we’re in the business of upskilling and while we recognise that ‘wellbeing’ itself is not a skill, we understand that rituals and practices, as well as skills such as mindfulness, collaboration and communication skills are essential to creating work environments that support and thrive with wellbeing at their core. Sharing resources you have access to, or experience with can be a show of support to those around you. (Note: we've got your back if you need resources, see my contact below)

10. Provide opportunities for community service and volunteer work.

I worked closely with someone in the pharma business and what impressed me was their commitment to supporting causes and community throughout the year. If your workplace has paid volunteer days, you may have some great resources available. You can also check out Ozharvest, Mums4Refugees and Unltd., some of my favourites. Being a champion and encouraging others to come along is a great way to build relationships and bring people into the fold. Some of the best ways to discover and develop your skills is through volunteering, so embrace it as a way to build relationships, demonstrate your strengths and engage with your community.

11. Listen and respond to peer or employee/team feedback and concerns.

Adopting a culture of continuous improvement is essential for companies to evolve not only their product and approach, and it's important for us to recieve notes and feedback from others. Internally, I’ve been very fortunate to have a leadership team that are open to thoughtful (and respectful) debate around our conventions and approaches to growth as we gear up for our next phase. Being a leader, manager or team member that approaches feedback with grace and curiosity is a great opportunity to demonstrate a growth mindset. Receiving and responding to feedback in earnest is a game changer if you have ambitions to break into leadership, or expand your ability to influence and grow. If you find that this is not your strength, and for many of us it is a practiced skill, check out our Paddl Essentials program that has sessions on this coming up in the coming weeks!

12. Seek outlets to be creative, innovate and to play

Every day I hear from clients and partners that they are in need of time, space and help facilitating teams to collaboratively innovate, play and get creative to tackle problems. This has been a big highlight of my time here at Paddl, because I get to join in on the fun, and because this part of our work is always impactful and yields great results. The reason we love it is simple- people like to work in jobs that promote teamwork and problem solving. This proactive approach to connecting, solving business problems not only empowers you and your team to keep up with changes in your industry, it is one of the best ways to be recognised for contributing to engagement, which at any quality employer will be a top priority. Taking time to enjoy the lighter side of your industry, enjoy watching sport together in real time (such as yesterday's Superbowl), listening to a topical lecture or TedTalk on the big screen at lunch, can be a way to bring creativity and playfulness to your workspace. I've also seen friendly internal competition is an excellent way to build a little joy into the day, such as steps counting or a team bake-off.

13. Support others when they are creating, working toward and achieving goals

One of the best people to have around you in a professional environment is someone that encourages you and supports you along the way of being your best self. When we’re surrounded by people that can be truly happy for us and supportive when we set, approach and achieve our goals, we are more likely to grow and achieve what we’re aiming for. The idea here is not just surround yourself with such people, but *be* the person that others can count on for encouragement and even non judgment if things are off target. Being able to share our wins and our stumbles gives us the time and space to reflect, and this can make all the difference for finding the gumption to get back on track.

We just wrapped up a great live session with Natalie Dawes on this very topic. If you’re interested in checking it out, drop me a line and I’ll send you a login!

14. Be someone that speaks kindly about others when they aren’t in the room

As humans, as a survival strategy, most of us will gossip and find ourselves in the midst of juicy chat now and again in professional environments. Gossip can be useful- you can learn information that otherwise may not have been available to you, it can bring you closer to someone you didn't have much in common with in passing before- but all too often, gossip is harmful. In a way that won’t polarise you from any group or individual, try to commit to speaking kindly about others, their work, and contributions. Your actions will speak volumes about your values, your mindset and benefit your relationships in the long term. As the saying goes, you can choose to be anything. Why not choose to be kind?

These are just a few ways we can show kindness and appreciation in the workplace. By prioritising the well-being and kindness, we’re contributing to a culture that is not only positive, it is productive. It doesn’t need to be company policy to help others feel valued and supported.

Can I help you with your 2023 Learning, Development or UpSkilling Journey? I’d love to hear from you.

Kelly Tagalan Head of Growth Ops

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