Building Respect in the Workplace with Employee Training
How can a company function effectively when its workers don’t treat one another with respect and civility? The short answer is, it can’t. If you’re observing negative, disrespectful behavior patterns among your employees, that’s a serious matter — one that demands a quick fix.
Even in workplaces that aren’t visibly suffering from a lack of respect, it’s important to get ahead of matters and establish a clear, positive culture. A respectful and inclusive workplace where everyone’s opinions and contributions are welcomed is better equipped to thrive from several perspectives.
Whether you’re most concerned with retaining top performers, boosting your team’s effectiveness or meeting your legal obligations as an employer, a culture of respect will help you achieve your aims. The most direct way to create such a work environment involves a full-scale commitment from management, along with programs such as training, to make sure every worker knows what’s expected of them.
Why Focus on Respect in the Workplace?
Respect is a top priority when designing an optimal workplace culture — or at least it should be. Organizations that don’t spend time on improving their culture may end up with systematic problems.
The opposite of a respectful workplace culture is one where employees may feel uncomfortable, excluded or discriminated against. As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains, harassment tends to occur when businesses lack a strong culture to encourage and promote respectful and inclusive behavior.
Workplace harassment and discrimination are violations of Equal Employment Opportunity laws, and they have a hugely damaging impact on morale, retention, productivity and overall job satisfaction. By making respect a core value, your organization can lay out a clear message about the types of behavior that are acceptable in the workplace, while also creating structures to help employees who do encounter disrespectful behavior from colleagues.
The Positive Impact of a Respectful Workplace
Building a culture of employee respect isn’t just valuable as a contrast to disrespect and harassment. There are tangible benefits to working in an environment where all employees feel their contributions are being valued and they are respected members of a team.
As Indeed explained, respect tends to create further respect, forming a virtuous cycle. When employees feel they are treated well by their peers, they show the same consideration to their colleagues. The Indeed report added the benefits of such a positive environment include:
- Employee engagement: It’s simply easier for employees to commit to companies where they feel valued and supported by their managers and coworkers. Top performers are incentivized to stay with these organizations for longer, aiming to earn promotions and stay with the business rather than seeking new roles elsewhere.
- Productivity and performance: Employees who feel disrespected and excluded may hesitate to offer suggestions or commit fully to planning and brainstorming. Therefore, a company that creates a respectful workplace receives more contributions from a larger segment of its employee base, potentially leading to valuable new strategies.
- Health and happiness: Stress is a constant presence in the workplace today, and a disrespectful environment can add to the feeling of pressure. Stressed employees may find their mental or physical health suffering, leading to more time off and lessened contributions to the team. A culture of respect, on the other hand, helps keep employees in a positive headspace.
A business built around a positive, respectful environment is one employees feel good about recommending to their friends and family. In other words, a culture of respect can boost an organization’s Net Promoter Score.
In today’s competitive labor environment, where demand for top employees is high and these workers have an increased ability to choose an employer, it’s especially important to build a respectful workplace. Team members who don’t feel respected may become part of the Great Resignation, seeking better conditions elsewhere.
How to Build a Culture of Respect in the Workplace
Establishing the importance of respect in the workplace is the first step toward building an improved workplace culture. Next, it’s time to put in an effort to promote mutual respect among your whole team.
Some of the elements of a respectful workplace come from the top down. Making leaders at all levels of the company commit to respect, both in theory and practice, is an important part of ensuring the new practices take hold. Other parts of company culture go beyond leadership, however. All workers have to internalize the message that respecting their colleagues is an essential part of life at the company.
Ideally, new practices designed to create respect in the workplace will feel natural and be relatively easy for employees to follow. After all, the concept behind respecting and acknowledging colleagues is a common-sense matter. As long as workers follow the golden rule, by treating others the way they want to be treated, they’re on the right track.
Pointing to a Respectful Future
As Harvard Business Review notes, there are ways to create a culture of respect without making massive policy changes. Companies do generally have rules on the books that compel employees to treat one another respectfully. Rather than starting fresh, your human resources department may find it just has to inspect the current state of the business and renew commitment to the organizations’s principles.
HBR pointed out a few keys to reinforcing a culture of respect, including:
- Understanding leadership’s role: While leaders aren’t the only ones who need to be respectful, a positive environment starts with them. Behaviors spread outward from the C-suite, with respectful behavior by leadership influencing every level of the employee experience — and even the customer experience.
- Discovering respect and efficiency can coexist: It may be tempting to assume that not worrying about respect is a faster, more direct way to accomplish business tasks. However, disrespectful behavior tends to cause negative feelings that slow workers down rather than speeding them up. Respect is more efficient, not less.
- Finding the right balance: Creating a culture of respect means finding honest and consistent ways to provide positive reinforcement. If employees feel like managers share empty praise or only demonstrate respect to win the approval of the C-suite, the whole process feels insincere and has trouble taking hold.
When you’ve committed to maintaining a respectful culture within your company’s workplace, it’s time to invest in programs to spread and reinforce the message. Training is a key component of these efforts.
Creating Respect in the Workplace through Training
There are numerous online training modules based around the concept of creating a positive, respectful work environment. The exact courses you choose depends on factors such as your business size and industry, allowing you to deliver highly relevant messages to your team. The following are a few examples to choose from:
- Building a Culture of Respect: This longer course is an overview of workplace cultures based around respect and inclusivity. It’s especially aimed at managers, to make sure they’re leading teams in a way that prevents harassment and encourages constructive interactions.
- Building a Culture of Respect: Champion Diversity: As a more focused type of workplace culture training, this course is specifically based on encouraging respect between employees from different age ranges, gender identities, religions and ethnicities.
- As Simple As Respect: This course is based around helping employees recognize what disrespectful behavior is and encouraging them to always act in a respectful way that counters discrimination and fosters teamwork.
- Diversity, Respect and Legal Compliance: This course for managers helps team leaders thrive in diverse work environments, giving them the tools they need to create a culture of respect while complying with relevant workplace regulations.
By building respect into your training program for new hires and giving refresher courses for current employees, you can spread more positive behaviors and attitudes to your whole team.
Employee Training Methods for the Modern Workplace
Video-based online training is an ideal education method for modern businesses to embrace, because adding new courses to a company’s curriculum is quick, affordable and flexible. Training your whole team is simple without the need to gather employees for an in-person seminar, and you can give the same lesson to each newly hired employee through the online platform.
This is an especially effective way to train your team if you’ve embraced a remote workplace model: employees around the world can engage with the necessary courses on their own schedules. Even in a workplace where colleagues never meet in person, respect is an essential part of happy and productive collaboration.
With the right training content network on your side, you can offer a constantly updated selection of training courses to encourage and foster a respectful workplace culture.