Workplace Wellbeing

Respect in the Workplace: How to Foster a Culture of Collaboration

A Georgetown University survey of employees found that respect ranked first as the most important leadership behavior.

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    In the workplace, respect for employees by management—as well as respect among employees—is one of the keys to an atmosphere where people are confident they matter. When respect is shown, employees understand the hard work that they do is taken seriously. That respect can create a culture where employees take ownership of their job and their place on the team.

    Workplace respect: what it truly means

    Workplace respect encompasses a set of behaviors, attitudes, and actions that create a positive and inclusive work environment. It goes beyond basic politeness and acknowledges the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, regardless of their role, background, or characteristics. At its core, workplace respect entails treating others with fairness, courtesy, and professionalism, fostering an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and appreciated.

    Respect in the workplace involves recognizing and embracing the diversity of ideas, perspectives, and experiences that each employee brings to the table. It means actively listening to others, seeking to understand their viewpoints, and engaging in open and constructive dialogue. Respectful communication involves using inclusive language, refraining from derogatory or offensive remarks, creating policies that prevent any form of harassment, and demonstrating empathy and understanding.

    Why respect matters in the workplace

    How important is respect to employees? A Georgetown University survey of 20,000 employees across the globe found that it ranked first as the most important leadership behavior, according to Harvard Business Review.

    However, many employees don’t experience the respect they’d like to receive. When they do experience the respect they deserve, there are many workplace wellness benefits, including an increase in productivity. Team members are more likely to show respect for each other when management shows respect to employees. By modeling respect, management can reduce harassment, ridiculing, gossiping and other negative behaviors among employees. When those behaviors diminish, the door opens for more collaboration among employees.

    When employees don’t feel as if they’ll be ridiculed by management or co-workers, they will feel freer to communicate and share their thoughts. They may come up with ideas that contribute to the success of an organization—all because management fostered respect.

    Benefits of a respectful workplace culture

    A respectful workplace culture brings forth numerous benefits that positively impact both employees and the organization as a whole. By fostering respect, organizations experience higher levels of employee engagement, where employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. This, in turn, leads to increased job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and a more harmonious workplace.

    Moreover, a culture of respect encourages effective teamwork and collaboration, as employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, leading to enhanced creativity and problem-solving. Ultimately, organizations that prioritize respect in the workplace witness improved productivity, higher levels of employee well-being, and overall organizational success.

    How to demonstrate respect for employees

    Harvard Business Review found that leaders aren’t always aware of what respect in the workplace looks like. Often management tries to make an effort to show respect to employees but finds their efforts fall short.

    How can HR and management demonstrate respect for employees effectively?

    Don’t allow discrimination

    Place a focus on diversity in the workplace. HR should look to make sure the workforce is diverse and have policies in place to make discrimination unacceptable. Acts of discrimination should be dealt with according to policy so that all employees know they’re respected and treated with dignity.

    Value employees’ time

    Employers who demonstrate they value their employees’ time during working and personal hours demonstrate respect for those workers.

    According to Forbes, there are many things that management may do that show a lack of respect for employees’ time—such as scheduling unnecessary meetings and going over the scheduled time for a meeting. Not respecting an employee’s time outside of work—by doing things such as calling them late at night or emailing at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and expecting a quick response—is another way of disrespecting an employee’s time.

    Be consistent

    Consistency with expectations shows respect. When employees know those expectations won’t change on management’s whims or moods, management fosters trust and respect. Treatment of employees is another area that consistency is especially appreciated in. Favoritism fosters an atmosphere of disrespect.

    Give credit where credit is due in the proper way

    When an employee does a good job, it should be acknowledged and recognized. An effective show of respect for a job well done includes praise and reward in a manner that the employee appreciates. Sometimes praising and rewarding in private is a show of respect. A manager who understands how each of their employees enjoys being given credit for a job well done is one that truly respects their team.

    Be understanding of personal issues

    Management does not need to be best friends with employees, but those in management should be understanding when an employee has personal problems. Whether mental health issues such as stress and anxiety, physical illness, or family problems, showing concern and flexibility so an employee can address those issues is a sign of respect.

    Provide access to workplace development and leadership programs

    A sure sign of respect is creating pathways for hardworking employees to improve their skills and promotion opportunities. By providing access to workplace development and leadership programs, HR and management provide those pathways. Having an employee assistance program (EAP) available to all employees is an effective way to facilitate development and leadership programs. While many employees turn to their EAPs when they have problems they can also turn to their assistance programs to take advantage of developmental opportunities.

    At Spring Health, we can supplement or replace your company’s traditional EAP with the most comprehensive, effective solution for employee well-being, one that incorporates financial wellness into the program. Contact us to request a demo today.

    About the Author
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    Spring Health

    Spring Health is a comprehensive mental health solution for employers and health plans. Unlike any other solution, we use clinically validated technology called Precision Mental Healthcare to pinpoint and deliver exactly what will work for each person—whether that’s meditation, coaching, therapy, medication, and beyond. Today, Spring Health supports over 4,500 organizations, from startups to multinational Fortune 500 corporations, and is a preferred mental health provider to companies like General Mills, Bain, and DocuSign.

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