Let’s be honest, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your work colleagues. Unfortunate, I know, but while the diversity of your working environment may bring you into close proximity with others that you don’t particularly like, that’s no excuse to treat them with contempt. The workplace is a professional environment. We must demonstrate respect towards our colleagues, for in the absence of respect comes turmoil…and turnover!
Respect in the workplace is the responsibility of everyone. It is a two-way street ensuring that employees respect the values and decisions of the business, and for employees to feel that their work and efforts are recognised and valued. This works well when you have the right people in the right job. Think about it, generally when you commence a new position the pressure to prove your worth is prevalent. Sure you have a grace period, but then you must demonstrate your competence. If you fail to impress, you will not acquire the admiration, trust or the respect of your colleagues. They will be of the mindset that you are out of your depth and will soon be critical of every opinion you express and task you undertake. Needless to say, employers have a great deal of responsibility in getting their hiring decision right.
The presence of respect is experienced in several ways. You can hear it in one’s voice, see it in their non-verbal communications and feel it in the manner in which they address you. If a colleague of yours constantly disregards you, avoids eye contact and conversation with you, perhaps they walk away as you attempt to converse with them, trust me, they absolutely do not hold you in high regard. It is this type of behaviour that leads to acts of bullying and the generation of a hostile working environment. And that’s not healthy for anyone. Especially not the bottom line.
There is much that an organisation can do to breed a culture of respect. It stems from how the boss treats their employees and clients, the introduction of policies such as a Code of Conduct, and how employees work is recognised and compensated. Respect is so powerful that it manifests itself in a means that speaks directly to the future success of the organisation, rendering it a highly important and essential ingredient of an organisation’s culture.
It is a known fact that respect increases employee engagement. An engaged workforce is a highly committed and motivated workforce. When senior management demonstrate an appreciation for their employees’ efforts and successes, employees feel less stressed and can work more freely with the reinforcement of their worth. Employees too must encourage each other in their endeavours, sharing knowledge to improve those of others. This develops a collaborative workflow where bonds and relationships are strengthened, thus successes gained are even greater.
Needless to say a respectful workplace lends itself to a happier workforce, thus higher retention rates. There are fewer incidents of mistreatment centred around discrimination and sexual harassment, consequently issues of liability, or the threat thereof, are much scarcer. With fewer disruptions in employee turnover, productivity at a minimum remains a constant, but takes an upward trajectory in an environment where job satisfaction is high. Customers too want to be associated with a business where they feel valued. And we all know the benefits of customer retention – a loyal customer base leads to the referral of new clientele, giving rise to organic growth.
Naturally not everyone will always see eye to eye. Yet that does not mean that respect cannot exist between two people who don’t think in parallel lines. Discussion is important, a difference of opinion should be welcomed, and always, you must remain respectful, professional and pleasant towards your employer, work colleagues and clients. When respect exists in the workplace, a positive culture ensues. It is reliant on open lines of communication and consistency in approach. It supports an environment free of judgement and a sense of fairness. Problems are solved amicably, giving way to the stress of conflict. Thus the simple act of respect can transform a workplace. Yet it is not the sole responsibility of management to enforce. The rules of respect for employees and managers are the same. Accordingly, we are all accountable for the principles which define our working environment.