Respect In The Workplace

Just yesterday I saw an interesting tweet from PU Technologies Inc. that got me thinking.

I thought about a latent intention of the author to include those topics in their “Don’t view people as mechanisms.” section but I got a better answer.

And they’re right. Nina Ramsey points out that, globally, only 44% of employees say that they feel valued by their employer. That’s not at all a good number. Out of them, more than one-third of respondents, meaning 37%, say they frequently think about quitting their job and leaving their employer.

That should give companies a solid indication that unhappy and undervalued employees are not good for business. And since you can’t fix something unless you know it’s broken, a lack of communication in the workplace can make matters worse.

A culture of respect

Every onboarding process should emphasize on respect in the workplace. It starts from the first contact with that company and it should be showcased in every interaction and process. First and foremost, it’s the leadership body that should set an example. Niels van Quaquebeke calls it respectful leadership.

“The study of respectful leadership is about identifying which behaviors from leaders signals to subordinates that they are of equal worth – even given the hierarchical nature of most workplaces. Research on work values shows that respectful leadership is highly desired by employees.”

His paper on Defining Respectful Leadership goes on to describe the behaviors that a respectful leader should exhibit:  However, it is equally important that employees manifest respect in their relationships and interactions, prompting this to be a cultural element rather than a policy or an imposed condition. Often enough, it’s the horizontal work relationships that can profoundly affect employee happiness and the atmosphere in the workplace.

Here are some insights as to How to Demonstrate Respect at Work, by Susan M. Heathfield. As Paul Meshanko, author of The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroleadership to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace, notes:

“As an added benefit, workplace environments rooted in respect tend to have fewer harassment and discrimination issues. According to statistics published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. corporations paid $445.8 million to settle discrimination-related violations in 2012.”

Some organizations have an explicit policy on respect in the workplace, internal documents and even a Respect in the Workplace Officer.

Respect and lack of communication

Faulty communication could be viewed as an effect of lack of respect in the workplace.I don’t like that guy so I won’t share that document with him may sound rational in someone’s head, but it throws professional courtesy right out the window. Other consider respect to be a way of communicating, unarguably a valid point as well.

The way you share a piece of information or the timing of it can also be interdependent to the respect you’re showing that person. Your body language should also reflect professional respect and courtesy, preventing you from rolling your eyes when a coworker has been talking for more than 10 min about a less than exciting topic.


The proverbial ‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.’ can be easily validated in the workplace, through a culture of respect and efficient communication. It will significantly improve your company productivity and, more importantly, you workplace happiness.

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