By Catherine Shanahan
Kindness costs nothing, as the saying goes — unless you are a HSE employee, whereupon it could cost two hours of your working day.
For an organisation with no real ratings on the warm and fuzzy scale, staff were left bemused by a recent internal circular inviting them to participate in ‘Kindness Workshops’.
“The two-hour workshop aims to share the most recent evidence and research on human kindness and establishes the link between kindness and productivity,” the circular said.
A cynic might suggest the “link between kindness and productivity” is the real driver of this initiative, overseen by the Healthy Ireland steering committee.
Staff who choose to attend the workshops will not come away empty-handed — Healthy Ireland will supply folders/packs/posters to use “in rippling out kindness in the workplace”.
Rippling it out beyond the workplace to HSE service users, aka patients, (the sick, the elderly, the disabled) does not appear to be a feature of the workshops, which seems shortsighted, as the circular also proclaims that “Kindness is Good For You”, although probably not effective enough to get you a hospital bed, or secure an outpatient appointment after a 20-year wait or a hip replacement based on actual need rather than ability to pay.
The circular also states that “kindness is in fact a major contributor to happiness”, but really, a two-hour workshop to get this message across seems excessive given most of us learned it at our mother’s knee.
The workshops fall somewhere under the HSE’s mysterious Values in Action programme, which “cites kindness as one of the fundamental workplace behaviours that reflect our core HSE values”, a statement that is a mystery in itself.
Staff in the South of the country have been invited to sign up for a Kindness Workshop at St Mary’s Campus, Gurranabraher, Cork City, on February 7, 2018, between 11am and 1pm.
Should that workshop be oversubscribed, no need for panic — there’s a second taking place at the Nurses Education Centre, Kerry University Hospital, on February 13.
The HSE employee who brought the workshops to our attention did so not because of any ideological opposition to showing kindness, but out of concern that their employer might be wasting time and resources.
Running a course to improve kindness levels seemed “a bit OTT”, the employee said, adding: “I’m just a concerned employee who doesn’t want to see unnecessary waste within the HSE.”
Cue: Miracles Workshop.
This article first appeared in today's Irish Examiner.