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Importance of Leaders Fostering RESPECT in the Workplace

Importance of Leaders Fostering RESPECT in the Workplace

This month I’d like to explore RESPECT in the workplace.  As the Director of Behavioral Health here at Lyric Health there is much talk about Quiet Quitting, and most recently the newer trend of Loud Quitting, each of these trends often comes down to common RESPECT in the workplace.  In her timeless version of the recording “Respect,” Aretha Franklin demands for the sake and health of her romantic relationship with her partner, it is important that he give her R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   

Respect is not just important for romantic relationships, but every avenue of life, including the professional workplace. Industry studies have consistently shown that employees are more engaged & productive when they feel respected. According to a 2014 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, the respectful treatment of employees rated as “very important” by 72% of participants, making it the top contributor to overall job satisfaction.  The Harvard Business Review (2018) found that respect was the number one behavior, above all others, that would lead to greater employee engagement and commitment. By fostering respect, organizations experience higher levels of employee engagement, and feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. This, in turn, leads to increased job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and a more harmonious workplace (Spring Health, Jan. 8, 2021).

However, incivility at the workplace continues to be a major issue that results in employee conflicts, poor leadership, and the inability to retain employees. Since the pandemic, we have witnessed the phenomenon known as the Great Resignation, where employees have become burnt out, cynical and dissatisfied with their jobs, resulting in a mass exodus out of their jobs. Disrespect and employee conflicts, which are a large part of workplace toxicity, can certainly be a driver of this Great Resignation and the great migration, as they are also seeking work, quite often being poached by competitors!

An absence of respect or even disrespect can take many forms including, rudeness, and nastiness, interrupting, not listening to, and ignoring other’s suggestions, leaving someone out of the communication loop, being curt or brusque in email or other communications, leaving a mess in common areas, gossiping, crass humor and discrimination (BHS, 2023).

Employers and leaders are often responsible for this kind of toxic environment because of their own bad behaviors, poor management skills, or lack of action when employees act-out or engage in negative behaviors. What is most fascinating is that they may not even be aware that their behaviors or poor management skills are causing the workplace conflict.

Even though every employee should be involved in promoting respect at the workplace, it is the employers and leaders who must take the lead of creating and fostering an environment that allows their employees to thrive through mutual respect and cooperation.

Here is what Employers can do to promote Respect in the workplace:

  1. Promote egalitarianism between disciplines. No matter the difference in position, pay, qualifications, or education, all employees should be treated equally and have the exact same rights.
  2. Promote diversity at the workplace and not only bring in different voices, cultures, sexuality, etc., but also make sure that everyone feels included and valued. Acts of discrimination should be dealt with fairly and firmly.
  3. Employ and train managers, as well as employees, and active listening skills. A major part of respect is being heard. Active listening includes validation, positive feedback, and empathy.
  4. Promote conflict resolution skills through various workshops and programs. These skills should include appropriate and positive rules of engagement, strategies that attack the problem and not the person, problem solving collaboratively, adopting a win-win approach, and knowing when to seek outside assistance, especially through HR. 
  5. Take a personal interest in all employees. Learn one special or personal factoid about each employee. When speaking with them don’t just ask about work related matters, but also inquire about their families, day-to-day concerns, hobbies, and what brings them joy.
  6. Reward productive and respectful behaviors through incentive and recognition programs and ceremonies.
  7. Finally, never underestimate the power of the soft skills of leadership. Be aware as a leader of your own insensitive, negative, or impulsive and angry behaviors and how they may affect your employees. Instead practice the soft skills of kindness, support, loyalty, and respect. As well promote and lead a culture of respect, as being foundational to the success of the company and the emotional well-being of all employees. This is the gift that keeps on giving because a healthy, compassionate, and respectful workplace is the optimal environment for productive employees who desire and require R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

In closing, I want to emphasize that if you or anyone at your workplace is struggling with mental health challenges, remember that you are not alone. Lyric Health is here to support you every step of the way, providing access to our team of mental health professionals through our free app. Your well-being matters and reaching out for help is a sign of strength. Together, we can overcome these obstacles and foster a healthier and happier workplace for everyone.

About the Author

DR. JEFF GARDERE

Dr. Jeff is a monthly contributor for Lyric Health and one of the most widely sought-after experts in the mental health field.

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