How Important is Measuring Kindness as Opposed to Profitability in a Business?

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James Timpson
Chief Executive of Timpson Limited, Chair of the Prison Reform Trust and a Tate Trustee

How important is measuring kindness as opposed to profitability in a business?

VocL Voices’ Responses

Sion Lewis
Associate, Arup

Both are extremely important as without profit businesses will not be around to be kind. Successfully integrating both is a win-win scenario. Ensuring you have enough profit to operate whilst maintaining employee wellbeing and client satisfaction is the golden ticket. Fostering positive environments for employees who feel valued will in turn reap rewards externally to the business when they put the best version of themselves over to clients to build and maintain long running, mutually beneficial relationships which are the foundation of long term success for everyone.

Dara Latinwo
Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting

This is a fantastic question and one that needs to be asked far more often than it currently is. Perhaps what prevents this question featuring on more corporate agendas is the fact that ‘kindness’ is intangible and, in some ways, subjective – making it a far trickier variable to gauge than profitability. However, with over 70% of the UK economy comprising of services, the strength and quality of human interactions / relationships is arguably the main determinant of success at both the macro and micro level. In that sense, kindness – being a key ingredient of fruitful and sustainable relationships both within a business and outside it – emerges as a key driver of success, whereas profitability is merely an outcome of it.

Lara Tabet
Associate, Arup

Kindness might be difficult to quantify and quantifying it may actually lead to it becoming less authentic but the importance of kindness in business is huge. We often try to understand why people leave firms / sectors and try to remove those components to make them stay. But the times we have asked why people stay, persevere and give their all, it is often about kindness. Kindness is also key to creating psychological safety and an environment where people innovate and grow. But the question remains.. how do we measure it and how do we do it without forcing it?

Will Lankston
Managing Director, Timpson Direct

I’m perhaps a bit biased on this one 😅 but…. We find that a culture of kindness leads to strong profitability. We see this every year in the results of our Happy Index (our version of an employee satisfaction survey). We see the strongest profitability in the areas of our business where our colleagues feel best supported and looked after by their leaders/managers. This is why we choose the Happy Index as our primary measure of success.

Richard Sansom
East Midlands Network Director, Cadent Gas

Measuring kindness in a business is crucial, especially in today’s digital age where work and home life often blur. Ensuring that employees feel respected and valued not only promotes a positive work environment but also contributes to their overall life satisfaction. When employees love coming to work and feel rested at home, it enhances their productivity and loyalty, ultimately benefiting the business’s profitability and sustainability. Therefore, prioritising kindness is both a moral and strategic choice for businesses.

Matthew Balnaves
Head of Strategy, Agent Liverpool

I love this question! As ethically motivated business leaders we have a responsibility to add value to society and to our colleagues. Whether that is through our environmental impact on the planet or having a positive impact within our society. Whether kindness itself can be measured accurately I’m not so sure, it’s so open to interpretation. Companies and leaders can, and must, embed kindness as an organisational value however and model it in every interaction they have.

Gonzalo Coello de Portugal
Associate, Design and Project Leadership, Arup

Business should bring value to their stakeholders, not only extract profit for their shareholders.

If we understand Kindness in the broad sense of looking after employees, clients, the overall society, and Nature, it clearly should be placed at the heart of the business. The amount of profit for shareholders shall be reduced in the short term, but dedicating part of the benefits to the well-being of stakeholders will secure the sustainability of the business over time, and the increment of future benefits.

This becomes even more important at times when public services are shrinking, or short-sighted policies need to be balanced with the long-term view of responsible businesses.

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