Random Acts of Kindness at Work

How to Put a Smile on Your Coworker's Face

Bringing a coworker coffee is a nice thing to do.
••• Cultura RM/Jason Butcher / Collection Mix: Subjects / Getty Images

While there may be random acts of kindness happening in some workplaces, people share many more stories about their colleagues' bad behavior. Hopefully such acts are not as much a rarity as that would have us believe. Coworkers being nice to each other  goes a long way toward having a harmonious workplace which in turn leads to greater job satisfaction for everyone involved.

What if you could do something that would give one of your coworkers one of those rare stories to tell? Would they spread the word about your random act of kindness? How about giving it a whirl? Try doing one of these nice things for someone in your workplace.

  • Bring your coworker a cup of coffee when she looks like she needs a late day pick-me-up.
  • Share your mid-afternoon snack with your coworker or, if you don't want to share, bring an extra one (everyone gets hungry a couple of hours after lunch).
  • Buy your coworker her favorite iced cold beverage on the first warm day of the year. Nothing like an iced coffee or tea to welcome spring.
  • Celebrate Friday—or make Monday more bearable—by bringing in a treat for the entire department. Alternatively, you can do this on a rainy day to cheer everyone up.
  • Offer to stay at work late or come in early to help a coworker with a difficult project. Don't wait for him to ask you. Some people are reluctant to say they need assistance.
  • Praise your associate for a job well done. People rarely complain about getting too many compliments.
  • Clean out the break room fridge before everyone else arrives for the day or after they have left. You'll have the gratitude of the entire staff.
  • Take a difficult customer off your coworker's hands by interrupting their conversation and saying you're there to relieve him for lunch or a break (it doesn't have to be true).
  • If you see your colleague is about to make a mistake, try to intervene to prevent it. Most people—unfortunately not all—will appreciate the interference.
  • Offer unsolicited advice, especially to a new colleague who seems to be floundering. Again, not everyone will be grateful for your intervention, but most people will.
  • Stop others from spreading a rumor about someone. You may make some enemies, but the subject of the gossip will truly appreciate it.
  • If you see something you know your colleague will absolutely love—for example a book about a topic in which he's interested—get it for him. Avoid getting a gift that is too extravagant however.
  • Invite a less experienced colleague to a meeting or to work on a project that can help her grow. Before you do this, make sure you have her supervisor's permission.
  • Ask your coworker to join your lunch group especially if he doesn't have many workplace friends yet. Remember what it was like to have to eat alone?
  • Stop by your coworker's desk to say good morning or goodbye.
  • Hold the (otherwise unoccupied) elevator while your colleague runs back to her desk to get something she forgot even if you're in a hurry to leave the building.
  • Praise your officemate to her boss who may not realize how hard she's working.
  • Save your cubicle neighbor from having to make a trip to the office supply closet by offering to pick up his supplies when you get yours.
  • Volunteer to  mentor an inexperienced coworker. Many people are too shy to ask or may not even think of it.
  • Put your colleague's bully in her place or lend a sympathetic ear when he complains about her. Give him advice on how to deal with a workplace bully.
  • Tell a coworker about an internal job opening for which you think she'd be perfect.
  • Pack an extra brown bag lunch for a coworker who can't ever seem to remember to bring his own.
  • Have an errand to run in your coworker's neighborhood after work? Offer her a ride home so she doesn't have to take the bus or train that day.
  • Offer to relieve your associate of his undesirable tasks for a day or more. Be sure to clear it with both your boss and his.