The Reality of Workplace Respect

The reality of workplace respect might surprise you. Consider this: Harvard Business Review research reveals that over 50% of people don’t feel respected by their leaders. Many employees find that disrespect is indicative of their work culture as well, and 25% of them claim that this is caused by a disrespectful leader as their role model. If a leader can be uncivil, then their people take that to mean this behavior is permissible for everyone.

The cost of a disrespectful culture is heavy. People who feel they are not respected have poorer attitudes and work ethic. They are less interested, motivated and satisfied. This leads to lower productivity and inferior quality. Anxiety, frustration, absenteeism and turnover rise. Disrespected employees disagree with each other and communicate poorly. They have less loyalty, creativity and effort.

It’s clear that under these conditions, higher outbreaks of interpersonal conflict are inevitable, causing more disruption and HR costs. Upset employees generally impress their attitudes on customers, and this is the first step in lost business and lower profits.

Leaders who withhold respect for their people pay a high price, making their leadership careers difficult at best, and very short at worst.

Fundamental Needs in the Workplace

All people have fundamental needs, and in the workplace they center on being valued. People want to know they’re needed, that their work means something and they’re able to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves. This fulfills the basic human need of purpose, which imparts value.

Humans also have a need to belong. They need to fit in and be accepted as part of a “family”, those they can trust and offer trust to. Being treated with respect reinforces an employee’s positive self-image and self-esteem. Encouragement, acceptance and respect enhance unity and opportunity.

A lack of respect leads to internal doubts, despondency, lack of motivation and performance problems. Employees who have been affected by a disrespectful leader often have continued self-esteem challenges later in life, even when reporting to a different respectful leader down the road. They search for answers, many times in the wrong places, and blame themselves for the disappointments that follow.

What do you think? What percentage of your employees would agree they feel respected at work? You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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