The middle ground between quiet quitting and toxic toiling

Productivity has become a black and white issue. A new concept, reported by Newsweek Feb. 11, seeks to explore the gray area. 

The idea of "kind productivity" was introduced by Laura Tan, co-founder and strategy director of the brand agency Notable, on her LinkedIn profile. The so-called "softer" way of approaching productivity does not require "killing yourself" for personal or financial gain, Ms. Tan told the publication. 

It also does not subscribe to the bare-minimum mentality popularized by social media movements like "quiet quitting" and "lazy girl jobs." 

"It's about still being ambitious and achieving things but with an attitude of kindness at the center," Ms. Tan told Newsweek. "Kind to yourself ... kind to others, kind to the environment."

The practice can reduce widespread burnout, preventing employees from feeling the need to jump ship. It could even improve loyalty and morale, according to Newsweek

To encourage her workforce to see themselves as people before employees, Ms. Tan has introduced multiple measures at Notable. She allows people to work fully remote and implements a two-week "shutdown" for Christmas. She encourages them to take time for other interests — even when that means a three-month sabbatical — and has funded a coaching program for employees to discuss imposter syndrome and burnout. 

Allowing employees to practice kind productivity means trusting that they will still support the bottom line, according to Sam Adeyemi, an Atlanta-based executive coach. It's not about companies neglecting their tasks, but caring about the person completing them first. 

"Kindness will not go far without two things — trust and empathy," Mr. Adeyemi told Newseek. "Transparency, and a concerted effort on behalf of workplace leaders to encourage openness, transparency and cultivating the seeds of trust and empathy in order for kindness to prevail is key." 

Businesses tend to zero in on maximum output, which can lead employees to feel like functions, not people. Reversing the order might mean deemphasizing quantity and elevating quality, but it can still pay off, according to author and financial advisor Eric McDermott. 

"No one person's flexibility comes without the added incremental burden of many others. The one accepting the flexibility must also accept an obligation to make the accommodations as little an imposition as reasonable, and a willingness to pay it forward and step in when someone else needs the flexibility," Mr. McDermott told Newsweek. "Perfect? Hardly. Sustainable and balanced? Absolutely."

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