10 Small Gestures That Go a Long Way at Work


If you've ever worked in an office environment, you know how hectic things can get. Looming deadlines, departmental goals, staffing issues, and customer service challenges can send stress levels soaring and morale plummeting. If your office needs an attitude adjustment, start your own nine-to-five pay-it-forward program. Not only will it help boost morale, it'll help you get noticed in all the right ways. Here are 10 small gestures that go a long way at work.

1. Tidy Up

Does the break room at your office look like a scene from Animal House? Take a few minutes to wipe out the microwave, empty the dishwasher, or replenish supplies. If you're brave enough to dig deep into the refrigerator, send an email notifying everyone well in advance and provide a clear deadline for claiming any unmarked items. (People get very attached to the science projects they've got growing in there.)

2. Feed the Machine

My favorite good deed is to make sure there's enough copy paper on hand and topping off the paper trays. The next person with an urgent, large-scale copy job will appreciate interruption-free — and panic-free — copying.

3. Brew It Up

Let's all agree — the world runs on coffee. Help everyone start their day off right by keeping this magic elixir flowing freely. Brew a fresh pot right before a big meeting or when you notice the supply running dangerously low. You'll be an instant hero and it might inspire some copycat kindness. Also, bringing in treats or doughnuts can give your coworkers a morning boost or turn the day around for someone who couldn't grab breakfast before dashing out the door.

4. Raise Your Hand

If your employer participates in charitable giving, volunteer to be the committee point person and spearhead your company's involvement with United Way, Habitat For Humanity, JDRF, or other worthy causes. Besides providing a valuable service, volunteering builds teamwork and taking a leadership role in volunteer activities can enrich your resume and expand your professional network. (See also: The 10 Best Networking Tips for People Under 40)

5. Get Social

Help your coworkers blow off some steam and avoid career burnout by organizing a group get-together. Work with management to schedule an off-site team building event, a potluck, or an end-of-the-quarter celebration. Remember, keep things light and make it fun.

6. Offer Kudos

Public acknowledgement of a job well-done is a simple, free, and powerful motivator. Send an email to your team as a shout-out to a colleague who pulled of a mini-miracle. Take it a step further by giving the coworker a stellar LinkedIn recommendation. Besides being the right thing to do, it's one of many ways to act like a leader and move your career forward.

7. Be the Minute Man (Or Woman)

Volunteer to take the minutes at the next company-wide or team meeting. It'll provide a welcome respite for someone and showcase your listening, organization, and communication skills.

8. Offer to "Uber"

Channel your inner chauffeur. The next time your team is scheduled to attend an off-site meeting or event, offer to drive. The commute will spark conversations and relieve a few people of the stress of paying for parking, fighting traffic, or walking long distances.

9. Give a Small Gift

Did a coworker pitch in to help you get a difficult project out the door on time? Show your appreciation with a $5.00 gift card to their favorite coffee or dessert shop. Remember, it's not the amount you give, but the gesture that counts.

10. Express Interest

In the busyness of business, it's easy to forget that we're all human. Though some people prefer to draw a clear line between their professional and personal lives, most appreciate a little blurring of the two. Peek over that cube wall and ask how a vacation went, talk about a shared hobby, or briefly share a funny story. A little interest helps pass the time and makes work feel... well, less like work.

What small gestures have made the biggest impression on you at work? What do you wish more people did in your office?

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.