How to cultivate respect in the workplace

Often when the pressure’s on, the people you work with start to change. Workplace responsibilities and demands placed on an employee influence how they behave. This impacts interpersonal relationships and soon you start to experience the domino effect of your fast-paced work environment. This environment, combined with the speed that most modern workplaces demand, electronics, and pressure to deliver, lead to increased incidences of isolation and bullying. All this has a damaging effect on your organizational culture. The antidote is to cultivate a culture of respect where diversity is valued, and where each and every employee feels that their contribution is recognized and acknowledged.

Importance of respect in the workplace

In today’s workplace, diversity is no longer constrained to physical attributes such as race, religion, and gender. It also entails differences in personalities, working styles, and generational differences. Embracing workplace diversity is very important because it increases your organization’s talent pool, as well as brings new ideas, skills, and perspectives to your workforce. The more diverse organizations are, the more diverse they tend to be. Business leaders and decision makers need to constantly emphasize the importance of respect in the workplace in order to achieve these goals.

There are a thousand and one reasons why colleagues might disagree at work. It might be differences in work styles, how to complete a project, or how to solve a particular problem. It’s okay for employees to have different outlooks on how things progress. What’s important though is that your employees understand the importance of being respectful and professional while engaging in discussions. Whether you’re a business owner, manager or employee, you want to feel like your presence is respected, and that your ideas are acknowledged. This can be achieved by cultivating respect to create a spirited workplace environment with low staff turnover.

Some of the benefits of mutual respect in the workplace include:

  • Reduces workplace conflicts and stress – workplace environments where there’s respect will result in improved communication between individuals. This ultimately increases teamwork, as well as reduces the incidence of conflicts and stress in the workplace.
  • Increases understanding and productivity – organizations that emphasize respect encourage the exchange of ideas and knowledge, which can help increase innovation. Working proactively to reduce workplace politics and pettiness also increases productivity.
  • Increases employee satisfaction – respect in the workplace is a precursor for a more positive culture where your employees are satisfied, which results in lower staff turnover.
  • Creates a fair environment – a sense of fairness is established in the workplace when coworkers show respect for each other. Promoting a culture of respect will help eliminate the incidence of horseplay, harassment, and hazing. When the decision maker respects their employees, then there’s no room for harassment, bullying, or favoritism.
  • Improves the company’s bottom-line – relationship building and strengthening is the basis for quality work. When there’s respect and understanding, the workplace becomes a blessing, not a burden. Jealousy, backstabbing and harassment are replaced with joy, high fives, and pats on the back. When this positive culture continues, it certainly improves the company’s bottom-line.
  • Reduces liability – no organization wants their valued employees to feel discriminated against or threatened in the workplace. Respect in the workplace helps protect against this kind of discrimination because employees are treated equally and fairly regardless their personal characteristics. Organizations that lack a positive culture of respect and trust are riddled with incidences of sexual harassment, and discrimination based on age, color, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, or religion.

Developing a culture of respect

Respectful treatment of all employees is the top contributor to job satisfaction. That’s according to a report released by the Society for Human Resource Management. Whether you just started a business or are part of an established organization, creating a culture of respect should be a priority.

  • Listen to each other – in all walks of life, communication is the cornerstone of human relationships. Encourage dialog by listening to what others are saying, and making them comfortable about sharing. This should be a continuing process throughout the year. Make sure you collect regular employee feedback so you can improve inter-employee communications at all levels in your organization.
  • Show people you care – so many organizations conduct scheduled surveys and yet do nothing with the findings. It’s important to share the findings of any feedback that has been provided, as well as appropriate action that’ll be taken, with your employees. Nobody wants to feel like their voices and views are falling into a black hole. If it’s no possible to take action on concerns that your employees have aired, let them know why. Transparency can go a long way to foster respect as trust as well.
  • Help each other – individuals who respect each other support each other. You want to create an environment where employees are not afraid to ask for help. This will ultimately make everyone comfortable and more effective at their job.

Reward respect with respect

Maintaining a culture of respect can be a difficult, ongoing task. Indeed, lack of respect is the cause for so many fines, damages, and business failures. Business owners and leaders who dedicate their organizations to respect create a solid foundation of success and growth. This can be done through investing in respect training, leading by example, punishing offenders, and rewarding employees for exemplary performance.

Respect in the workplace training

There are many workshops and online courses available on teaching respect in the workplace. In this kind of training, applicants (employees, business owners, managers, etc.) are taught how to accept value and respect differences in their workplaces. The focus is to create an environment where all employees can feel safe so they can contribute their greatest potential.

Among other things, these courses teach the principles of diversity and respect, benefits and challenges of diversity, influence of personal belief on behaviors, and strategies to support the organization.

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