Why Kindness Creates Productivity at Work

It's no secret that our mental health is often tied to how we feel at work. Given that we spend a majority of our waking hours on the job, it would be strange if it didn't affect us. Businesses have every reason to ensure that employees are happy and supported while we're on the clock, and new research adds more evidence to the pile.

A study just published by Canada's University of Guelph looks at the social dynamics of workplaces. Specifically, it looks at who gets ostracized in certain offices: do-gooders. Brown-nosers. Girl and Boy scouts. Some workplaces are just not friendly to overachievers and cooperative types. The key element? A competitive team.

There doesn't seem to be much incentive for laying into a really generous co-worker, unless you consider who benefits from the status quo. "It is a way of bringing those people back down, and stopping them from looking better than oneself in their attempts to protect the environment or address social inequality," says author Patrick Barclay. When a work culture places more emphasis on cooperation, however, picking on the "good kid" tends to happen less.

We already know that more and more young workers are concerned with company culture and fit on the job, and that means embracing authenticity, competence, and belonging. Whether you're entry-level or in management, it's worth being the change you want to see. If a workplace is too resistant to culture shifts, then it's time to move on — but there's a good chance it could evolve into something better first.