respect in the workplace

How to Cultivate Respect in the Workplace

A positive work environment where people respect each other can significantly impact any organization’s productivity. As a leader, you can set the tone by managing employees in a way that they feel appreciated and well-respected.

People are more likely to be more committed to doing their best at work when they feel valued and appreciated. Based on findings from The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review, employees who were treated with respect by their leaders were 100% more likely to stay with the company, 63% more satisfied with their jobs, 58% more focused and 55% more engaged. Moreover, treating employees with respect is one of the top three leadership characteristics that had the biggest impact on employees’ performance. 

In contrast, research by Harbert College of Business reveals that insubordination or lack of respect to authority is usually in response to non-productive managers and/or abusive supervision. This means how you treat your employees may have something to do with their rejection of your authority. A cycle of mutual respect will benefit everyone in the long run.

Benefits of Cultivating Respect in the Workplace

  • Lowers stress levels – Less stress means healthier employees who are not only more productive but also more comfortable in expressing their ideas. People in a low-stress environment are mentally and physically conditioned to do better at work, and managing employees is much easier.
  • Boosts productivity and promotes collaboration – Respect provides more opportunity for employees to grow and work together. When coworkers respect each other, they turn to one another for help and for ideas on projects, resulting in more creative solutions and collaborations. 
  • Improves employee satisfaction – A positive workplace where people feel mutual respect (with increased collaboration and productivity) breeds happy and satisfied employees. When employees are productive, they also feel a sense of satisfaction. Satisfied employees have higher retention rates and care more for the company, which both translate to lower turnover rates and less money and time spent on onboarding/training. 
  • Creates a fair environment – As a leader, when managing employees, one of the most important things you can offer is an opportunity for your people to show their skills and knowledge regardless of their background. A culture of respect and fairness keeps people from being guilty of favoritism and offers everyone a chance to be heard. Employees can reach their potential when they are offered the chance to contribute fairly. 
  • Fewer harassment and discrimination issues – Workplace environments rooted in respect tend to face fewer harassment and discrimination issues. Based on statistics published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. companies paid $445.8 million to settle discrimination-related violations in 2012.

Ways to Cultivate Respect in the Workplace

Respect is shown in many ways and comes in many forms. To cultivate respect in the workplace when managing employees, you must…

  • Treat people the same way you want to be treated. Managing employees with kindness and courtesy can make a huge difference. Creating a caring culture at work can positively impact your processes, operations and overall morale.
  • Appreciate your employees. Let them know when they are performing well, and give them due recognition for their efforts. This will motivate them to work harder. Failing to recognize hard work can dishearten people and make them less productive.
  • Encourage your employees to share their ideas. Do not interrupt them while they are sharing their thoughts, and actively listen to them.
  • Treat people the same regardless of their race, gender, religion, age, etc. Creating prejudices based on a person’s background should not be tolerated. You should treat all people you interact with equally and approach all situations in the same way. 
  • Avoid nitpicking, micromanaging employees, criticizing or demeaning others. 
  • Be sensitive to the needs of your employees. Ensure you are able to address the feelings and needs of your people. For example, provide sick leave or maternity leave when needed. Asking your employees simple questions to check in with them can make a difference too. For example, ask how they’re feeling or how you can support them. 
  • Use other people’s ideas as often as you can. This will let them know that their ideas are not only welcomed but also valued. Plus, people will know that you listened to them and really took their ideas into account.
  • Do not insult people, even employees who don’t have the best attitude. Managing employees who are disrespectful can be difficult, but it’s important to maintain a positive attitude yourself. You set the tone for how other people in the office should act, so it’s best to stay calm and remain polite as much as you can.
  • Do not try to argue with others. It takes restraint and practice managing employees who are disrespectful, but taking the high road is usually the best thing to do in these situations. Such employees, more often than not, can cause stress and even trigger anger for other employees.
  • Include all necessary employees in meetings, lunches and after work activities. Give equal chances for employees to participate, and switch up the kinds of events you have. 
  • Praise more than you criticize. Giving constructive criticism is necessary when managing employees, but you should also show appreciation every time you have a chance to. Encourage your people to give praise to coworkers where needed too; everyone could use a bright spot in their day, even if it’s just a “good job” from someone on their team. 
  • Cultivate empathy in the workplace. An empathetic leader can work with people from different backgrounds, departments and teams. When there is empathy, it is much easier for everyone to connect, be compassionate and understand others. This quality is invaluable, and your coworkers will definitely take notice.

Company culture is created at the top. When you as a leader treat everyone with respect, you are setting the tone for the rest of your workplace.

Speaking of company culture, this week our guest on the UNprofessional podcast is Dr. Meisha-ann Martin, Director of People Analytics at Workhuman. Join us this Thursday for a conversation about how emotions belong at work, what it means to work in people analytics and more.

Let’s continue making the world more kind, compassionate, empathetic and human.

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna

Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


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