As employers, we frequently contemplate how we can retain top talent, improve employee morale, and establish rapport within our organization. As the employer, we tend to over analyze these subject areas resulting in time tasking discussions with peers, proposals, and implementation of new processes and programs when realistically it comes down to one simple concept yielding powerful results… Respect.
It is important to note that having respect in an organization relates to equity, fairness and creating a strong organizational culture. If you ask any of your employees what they desire most from their employment, they will likely top that list with the desire for their co-workers to treat each other with dignity and respect. “Respect is when you feel admiration and deep regard for an individual. You believe that the person is worthy of your regard and admiration because of the good qualities and capabilities that they bring to your workplace.” (Heathfield, 2016).
It is imperative to promote respect in your organization by recognizing that your employees have rights, opinions, needs, wants, experience and competence.
One of the rights employees have – whether union or non-union – was set forth by the Office of the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) on March 18, 2015. (Memorandum GC 15-04.) The Memorandum specifically addressed rules regarding employee conduct toward the company and supervisors and held that employees have the Section 7 (of the National Labor Relations Act) right to criticize or protest their employer’s labor policies or treatment of employees. For example, the Memorandum found that a rule which prohibits employees from engaging in “disrespectful”, “negative”, “inappropriate” or “rude” conduct towards the employer or management, absent sufficient clarification or context, will usually be found unlawful. (See Casino San Pablo, 361 NLRB No. 148 (Dec. 16, 2014)). On the other hand, a rule that requires employees to be respectful and professional to co-workers, clients or competitors – but not to the employer or management – will generally be found lawful, “because employers have a legitimate business interest in having employees act professionally and courteously in their dealings with co-workers, customers, employer business partners and other third parties.” (See Copper River of Boiling Springs, LLC, 360 NLRB No. 60, (Feb. 28, 2014)).
So within the guidance provided by the NLRB’s General Counsel, it is critical to keep in mind that while “respect” is a simple yet powerful concept, it cannot be unilaterally imposed or forced upon the workplace. There are, however, several suggestions for demonstrating respect between co-workers and employees as follows:
· Treat employees, co-workers and clients with courtesy, politeness, and kindness.
· Inspire employees and co-workers to express opinions and ideas.
· Listen first and speak second. Avoid interrupting when a co-worker is speaking.
· Implement ideas from a co-worker and/or employee. Ensure that employees are aware that their ideas are being used and encourage them to drive the implementation of that specific idea.
· Avoid insulting or disparaging language toward co-workers.
· Treat co-workers equally and fairly.
These ideas are a few suggestions to promote respect in the workplace. When implemented consistently, the professionalism of an organizational culture improves. Respecting one another is not only a benefit to the organization but also to the stakeholders.