From Aretha Franklin:
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me.”
Creating a respectful workplace leads to a more productive and safe work environment while boosting moral. Respectful workplaces also avoid legal pitfalls by reducing sexual harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation issues. Such behaviors are not only illegal, they are often indicative of a workplace that does not prioritize respect.
But what does a respectful workplace mean and how can you achieve it? “A respectful workplace is a safe place of employment where employees are valued, recognized, treated fairly, have clear expectations, and work harmoniously.” Following are eight steps an employer can take to ensure a culture of respect in the workplace:
- Act ethically. This means that fairness, honesty, integrity and respect are incorporated into day-to-day interactions with coworkers.
- Conflict in the workplace is inevitable – how you disagree/argue is a choice. The workplace should have clear guidelines on what type of discourse is acceptable when working through conflict. There should be a neutral person designated as a mediator when the parties are unable to resolve the conflict on their own.
- Embrace Diversity – don’t just tolerate it.
- Workplace harassment training. It isn’t enough to make people sit through a boring harassment seminar. The training must be engaging and thought provoking. It should include bystander training that empowers onlookers to speak up when they witness improper behavior. Proper training sends the message that a respectful workplace is a priority.
- Zero tolerance policy for discrimination, bullying and harassment is a must.
- Show appreciation for coworkers. When coworkers are appreciated for their service, they are less likely to act disrespectfully and more likely to help promote and enforce rules of respect in the workplace.
- Active listening is the key. This means actually listening when someone else is speaking. In today’s world, we are bombarded by distractions and it can be difficult to focus when someone is speaking. When you are truly engaged and listening when a coworker is speaking, it shows that you respect their input, time and work.
- Make respect for others part of the culture. The only way for respect to truly be part of a workplace culture is for it to come from the top. The leadership team needs to lead by example. This means that leadership demonstrates that respect is a priority by being respectful, communicating that harassment or discrimination of any kind is not tolerated, and showing that harassment training is taken seriously.
While today’s workplace can feel hectic and unpredictable, practicing one of the first social lessons we learned in school (and likely from our parents), RESPECT, can make your work environment healthy and thriving. It’s really that simple…