By: Ruthie Feinstein, VP Insights & Engagement
Our company retreat in January centered around infusing more joy into our work. We were asked: What is one thing you would do more of on a personal level that brings you joy? My answer: I would cook. Cooking is my creative outlet, it elicits beautiful childhood memories, and most importantly, it is a tangible and real way that I express love for my family. Problem was I had no time. Not even on the weekends. Who knew two months later, I’d have the opportunity due to a global pandemic.
I am one of the lucky ones who gets to work from home right now. And with this privilege, I am cooking, and baking and it looks very different than how I’ve cooked in a long time. I am not stressing or feeling rushed. I am cooking with my girls, passing on tips and tricks my mom taught me. We are digging up familiar recipes and creating new ones, being creative with what we have in the house. We are having longer dinner conversations, and every night is family game or movie night – some sort of activity that ensures we are physically and emotionally ‘together’.
During this chaos, we wake up every day to new revelations, some contradictions from hours/days/weeks before, and constant fear and anxiety. Stress on so many levels for everyone. No one will come out of this untouched in some way. Yet, I am seeing another powerful force at play. A hopeful, inspirational one that is critical to our emotional health. Myself and my family, my friends, my neighbors, my community, and the world around us are looking for ways to create and contribute joy and kindness.
In my family, we now have regular video chats with grandparents and extended family, telling jokes and playing games. We bake and leave treats for friends on their doorsteps, and they ask if we need anything when they run to the grocery store. We brainstorm ways to bring more joy and act kindly. Some ideas:
- Give someone a compliment
- Be a good friend to someone having a hard time
- Donate food
- Make a family TikTok
- Be more patient with my little sister
- Offer to walk our neighbor’s dog
- Paint a picture for my best friend’s Grandpa who has Alzheimer’s
Human kindness unites us. Each one of us has the capability to make someone feel good, feel genuinely appreciated, feel like they matter. In our current state, where so much is not in our control, this is. When we make someone else feel good, we feel good ourselves.
Kindness in business
I’m seeing it with businesses too, where kindness drives decision-making and innovation. More than feel-good emails, forgiving late fees, waiving change fees, or extending return policies. It is real, purposeful and memorable actions rooted in bringing joy and acting with kindness. Some examples:
- Leaders placing employees with family health issues on furlough status so they can maintain insurance benefits even when business is unstable
- My company, SIVOInsights, offering emotional, intellectual, and professional support to our clients that has nothing to do with our core offering and everything to do with what they mean to us
- Distilleries across the country converting their operations from making alcohol to making hand sanitizer – and giving it away for free, starting with healthcare workers as a priority
- KFC partnering with the nonprofit “Blessings in a Backpack” to help provide weekend meals to kids who might otherwise go hungry, donating $400,000 to provide prepackaged meals
- Starbucks paying all workers for 30 days regardless if they show up to work and catastrophe pay, mental health resources and childcare support to those who opt to keep coming in
- DollarGeneral, Walgreens and other retailers dedicating early hours to seniors, a key at-risk group, to avoid busy shopping periods
- TheCoca-ColaCompany immediately diverting millions in brand advertising to support COVID-19 relief efforts globally
And the list goes on. These actions tell the story of how these businesses operate and the human beings who lead them. These actions strengthen loyalty, making it almost unbreakable, because they are rooted in deep emotional needs. People care and notice how they are treated in each of their relationships, including those with brands. And people will always remember how those brands show up, especially in the worst of times.
So, as we work hard to protect the physical health of ourselves and each other, could this also be a terrific opportunity?
What if these actions, rooted in joy and kindness, were simply our ‘modus operandi’, our usual way of doing business and building brands, not just when in crisis mode? How inspiring and completely transformative could that be? Think about the authentic loyalty that would really earn.
What if we looked at this as an opportunity to level-set, reprioritize and change habits and behaviors for the better, both personally and professionally? An opportunity to slow down, strengthen connections and actively demonstrate to people that they matter to us – our families, our friends and in business, our employees, clients and customers. To show that we really see you, we really value you as human beings. To show up and bring the best of us.
Ruthie brings over 20 years of senior leadership experience in consumer insights, brand strategy and marketing communications to her work at SIVO Insights. She has deep empathy for client needs, high partnership standards, and an eye toward meeting business objectives. Ruthie is a seasoned moderator and strategist whose warm, approachable style makes consumers feel they are talking to a friend and results in deeper insights. Her strong relationships and strategic influence have shaped positioning, innovation, and growth strategies for blue-chip brands across food, technology, entertainment and retail.