Why Respect Is Important in the Workplace

Why Respect Is Important in the Workplace

No matter your industry, respect is required at every level.

Without respect, employees will feel unappreciated, with a detrimental effect on the business. This lack will encourage them to seek employment elsewhere, and it can harm your business’ reputation if they talk about how they were not valued.

This article will explain what respect in the workplace means, why it matters, how you can develop a culture of respect in the workplace and answer some questions that you may have about it.

What Is Respect in the Workplace?

Respect means to understand how someone is important and valuable and to show them an appropriate amount of regard.

Respect should be present within every workplace relationship.

Employers must show respect towards their employees and vice versa. Coworkers should act with respect toward each other.

Further, everyone has to show respect to all others working within the company, including those working within the building but who may not be directly connected to the company (such as maintenance workers).

This is called mutual respect.

Respect is not limited to certain situations either, meaning it should remain present when you’re not directly working with people.

You should maintain the same level of respect for people throughout the working day and outside of the office.

If you become known as someone who disrespects others when they’re not present, others will lose trust in you and you may become ostracized within the workplace.

Note that respect should not only be shown during professional endeavours, but it should also be extended towards others’ feelings.

People often assume that the workplace should remain without emotion. However, this is a very outdated opinion. Nowadays, it is common for people to show their emotions at work.

When this happens, always remain respectful. People react differently to difficult situations, and it is important to let your employees or coworkers know their feelings are being genuinely considered.

Why Does Respect Matter in the Workplace?

It is important to know why respect matters, because then you can make a conscious effort to ensure its presence in your workplace.

Improves Team Morale

Mutual respect is the best way to improve team morale at work.

Respected employees are less nervous about sharing their ideas, which leads to better brainstorming and therefore will likely lead to better results.

This also makes it easier for colleagues to learn from each other and collaborate. It may also encourage the introduction of informal training sessions.

Such an environment inspires innovation and hard work, as employees know that their input will be considered and valued.

Makes Conflict Resolution Easier

Every team will sometimes experience conflict.

These can result in decreased productivity and a lack of collaboration, especially when not resolved satisfactorily.

Coworkers who lack respect for one another can argue in bad faith during mediation efforts, as they do not have enough regard for the other person to consider the merits of anything they say.

Mutual respect can make it easier to resolve conflicts between employees because they will feel more at ease communicating with each other and therefore can reach an agreement quicker.

Improves Communication

Communication is an essential component of every team.

Without effective communication, projects take longer to complete, and instructions may be misunderstood.

Mutual respect allows lines of communication to flow much easier, as colleagues talk to each other more openly and are willing to rephrase for clarity.

This will lead to projects being completed on time with maximum collaboration.

Improves Productivity and Engagement

Employees are more likely to be productive when there is a culture of respect, as they know that the work they do will be appreciated.

This will also lead to people coming up with more creative ideas that can potentially have a positive impact on the company.

It will also increase your employees’ engagement with the company, which can lead to them increasing their knowledge and therefore will be able to suggest ideas to improve the company’s processes.

Can Improve Your Corporate Image

A company with a culture of respect will not go unnoticed, just like the news of an employer who doesn’t respect or appreciate its employees also spreads quickly.

Respecting your employees will improve your company’s reputation and will make you a sought-after employer, which will encourage other people to join the company. This will give you a wider talent pool and lead to a stronger workforce.

Can Reduce Staff Turnover

Feeling under-appreciated is one of the top reasons that people leave their jobs.

Maintaining a good level of respect in the workplace can contribute to higher levels of employee satisfaction, which will decrease the chances of them looking for another job.

Keeping a steady staff is extremely beneficial to a business.

Employees who have been at the company longer tend to have a greater understanding of the company and the industry and can be more valuable. Further, it can cut down the costs of training and onboarding new employees.

How to Develop a Culture of Respect in Your Workplace

If you sense there is a lack of respect in your workplace, all hope is not lost; there are ways that you can develop a culture of respect in your workplace.

Congratulate Your Coworkers or Staff for a Good Job

There is no limit to the amount of praise that a person can give or receive.

People can often become a little self-absorbed at work, and it can be hard to notice others’ achievements.

However, giving someone some praise and congratulations on their success can go a long way.

For one, the favour will likely be returned when you have done a good job.

Additionally, you may be able to call on that person if you need their help in a future project.

Finally, praise works as an extrinsic reward, which some people find very motivating.

In general, praising somebody, particularly those you are managing, shows them that you see and appreciate their hard work and respect them.

Never Use Insults or Name-Calling at Work

There is no place for insults or name-calling at work.

Working in close quarters with people can often lead to boiled-up tension that can explode if you become overly frustrated with someone.

However, if you ever do feel like this, always remember to take some time to cool off in private before speaking to them.

You should also always speak to people one-on-one if you have something you would like to discuss.

It’s equally important to never tell off one of your colleagues in front of other staff members. This will really drive down your team’s morale, because this behaviour shows you do not respect them enough to deliver feedback in private.

Why Respect Is Important in the Workplace (Definitions and Examples)
Why Respect Is Important in the Workplace (Definitions and Examples)

Make Criticism Constructive

When you have feedback to give to a colleague in the form of criticism, make sure that it’s constructive and will have a benefit for the person.

Giving criticism alone projects negativity with no value. It will result in your coworkers feeling disrespected and under-appreciated.

Listen With an Open Mind to Other People’s Perspectives

Often people get caught up in their own ideas and therefore easily become biased to their own perspectives.

It’s a real sign of strength to take on other people’s ideas and opinions.

This will help to increase the sense of respect within your workplace; people will feel much more appreciated if they know that others are listening to the ideas that they have put a lot of work into.

Make Sure Your Treatment of Staff and Coworkers Is Fair

Make sure that you treat all your colleagues and employees equally.

Discrimination or bullying has no place in any company and is one of the signs that there is an issue with the level of respect that exists within your company.

Also, it may be illegal, which can lead to sanctions against the company. Discrimination is illegal when it is based upon one of the protected characteristics – gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion or age.

Beyond this, you must also be careful not to discriminate on any factor, even in a way that seems a joke on the surface. This makes people feel disrespected and leads to a hostile work environment.

Also, in particular, you must be careful to not discriminate against people who are at a lower level of the workforce than you. Everyone adds value in their own way, and you should always take their feelings and input into consideration.

Be Polite in All Your Work Situations

Being respectful and polite should extend to all work situations.

Whether you’re interviewing a candidate, in a meeting with the CEO or ordering your lunch at the canteen, you should always be polite to the people you have interactions with at work.

News of a rude colleague can spread quickly and can harm your reputation, along with your team's and your entire company’s.

Always remember that a little kindness goes a long way.

Do Not Gossip About Your Coworkers

Gossip is never acceptable in a working environment.

Even though you think you may be innocently discussing the news of another coworker, this is how rumours start and it can make employees feel under-appreciated, disrespected and potentially unsafe.

Gossiping is one of the key components that leads to a toxic working environment, as spreading information along the grapevine means it distorts, and people begin to spread untrue information.

Consider Others' Viewpoints Regarding Changes or Decisions

Your coworkers should always be at the forefront of your mind when you are making workplace changes or decisions that will affect them.

Considering other people in your decision-making is a great sign of respect in a workplace and it will improve your employees’ satisfaction.

You must also always be open if people come to you with concerns about new changes.

Their viewpoint may show pain points you had not considered – it’s difficult to foresee every possible problem that may arise, so always be prepared to make some changes to ensure that everyone is comfortable.

Do Not Pry or Overshare

It can be considered disrespectful if you are too inquisitive about other people's lives.

This is because many people feel uncomfortable talking about their personal lives.

Even though you may feel comfortable talking about these things, you must remember that this will not be the same for everyone.

Being mindful of others’ boundaries, through active listening and observing their body language, will help to create respect in your workplace.

Delegate Meaningful Work to Your Coworkers/Subordinates

When delegating tasks to others at work, always try to give them tasks that will be beneficial to their roles or their career progress.

People will quickly feel underappreciated and disrespected when they are constantly assigned remedial tasks that are below their skill level.

While this may be necessary at very busy times, be careful not to make a habit of this and have someone doing jobs that are not going to help their progression.

Frequently Asked Questions

Respect takes many forms in the workplace.

It can be to simply hear out a colleague’s point of view in a meeting, not taking your anger out on your coworkers, giving requested constructive criticism while keeping their feelings in mind or not gossiping about people.

A simple rule of thumb when it comes to showing respect for your employees is to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

This may be something you have been told many times by people before, but it remains pertinent, particularly when developing respect at work.

If you wouldn’t like to be spoken to in the way you speak to others, then that’s a very clear sign that you should try to be more respectful.

However, also keep in mind that just because you are not bothered by something does not mean other people will not be affected by it. If you dismiss their feelings as invalid because you do not feel them, that is disrespectful.

People react differently to the same situation, and all reactions are valid.

Respect and deference are somewhat similar but have slightly different definitions.

While it’s possible to show someone both respect and deference, you may show someone deference whom you do not respect.

Deference is a specific form of respect given to senior figures, and usually means not questioning them and accepting their ideas as immutable. It exists as part of a hierarchy.

Whereas you can still debate someone you respect and come to a collaborative form of the idea – respect is more equitable.

For example, while you may really dislike your company’s CEOs and not respect their ideas, you will still be deferential out of fear of their effect on your career.

Respect can be considered both a behaviour and an attitude.

It is an attitude in the sense that a respectful mindset pervades all aspects of your life and work. It means aiming to remain respectful in every encounter you embark upon, especially at work.

A respectful mindset brings integrity to respectful behaviours.

However, it is also a behaviour, as you can take respectful actions even if you are not feeling respectful in that situation.

For example, if you feel frustrated by another colleague, your instinct may be to raise your voice to them. But you can choose to be respectful, and so you will need to hold back on this behaviour by speaking with a calm demeanour.

There are a few things that could result in a breakdown of respect in the workplace.

One of the biggest reasons is a lack of appreciation.

If your employees don’t feel appreciated, this may cause them to show a lack of respect towards you, leading to a generally disrespectful workplace.

Lack of clear communication is another common cause of a breakdown of respect.

If employees feel that their employer is withholding information or if there is only a one-way system of communication and employees feel like they are not being heard, they will undoubtedly feel disrespected.

Final Thoughts

A company or a team of people cannot possibly function to its best ability if there is not a strong culture of respect within it.

Employers must be aware of the ways that respect should exist and able to notice when it has broken down.

Remember: a key rule about respect is to treat people the way you would like to be treated.

Always take time to reflect on how your actions might affect people and remember that everyone’s feelings are valid.

Putting in the work to establish a strong workplace culture of respect is worth it, because it will result in increased motivation and productivity.


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