The Rabbit Effect: Powering Your Team With Kindness

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“Rule with an iron fist”

Not in today’s day and age!  If there’s anything we’ve discovered in the past few years, work satisfaction isn’t always about what you do for work but rather who you work with.

Data from DDI's Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research found that 57% of employees who quit their jobs leave because of their boss. 

Let’s face it, having an unempathetic or unkind boss can truly make work miserable. It’s been proven that kindness and empathy may not only make us happier individuals but also lead to better performance and productivity in the workplace. 

This phenomenon is known as "The Rabbit Effect."

The Rabbit Effect refers to a groundbreaking study conducted by Dr. Robert N. Butler, the founder of the National Institute on Aging, and his team in the 1970s. The study aimed to investigate the causes of heart disease in rabbits. The rabbits were all fed a high-fat diet, but a shocking discovery was found when one group of rabbits had 60% fewer fatty deposits in their arteries than the other. How was one group of subjects significantly healthier than the others while following the same diet?

It was found that the healthier rabbits were treated by an abnormally affectionate and empathetic researcher. Essentially, the subjects raised in a nurturing and supportive environment had significantly lower rates of heart disease than those raised in a stressful and competitive environment. This led Dr. Butler to conclude that social and emotional factors play a crucial role in our overall health and well-being.

Science had proven that kindness counts.

Since then, The Rabbit Effect has been applied to a wide range of fields, including education, healthcare, and, more recently, workplace culture. The idea is that kindness and empathy can lead to a positive work environment, which, in turn, can lead to improved performance and productivity. But how exactly does this work?

A kind and empathetic workplace culture fosters trust and psychological safety. Employees who feel valued and supported are more likely to be open and honest with their colleagues, leading to better communication and collaboration. This can translate into faster problem-solving, higher-quality work, and better decision-making. 

Forbes notes that 76% of people who experienced empathy from their leaders reported they were engaged compared with only 32% who experienced less empathy.

An empathetic, or people-first, workplace culture also promotes employee well-being. When employees feel respected and cared for, they are less likely to experience stress and burnout, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates. This, in turn, can save companies significant amounts of money that would otherwise be spent on recruiting and training new employees.

Finally, people-first work culture can lead to better customer satisfaction. When employees feel happy and fulfilled in their jobs, they are more likely to go above and beyond to provide excellent customer service. This can lead to increased customer loyalty, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

In conclusion, The Rabbit Effect provides compelling evidence that kindness and empathy are not only good for our health and well-being but also for our performance and productivity in the workplace. Creating a culture of kindness and empathy may seem like a daunting task, but the benefits are well worth the effort. As Maya Angelou famously said…

 "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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