No two people are the same, this much we know for sure. Diversity is something that is talked about more and more in this ever-changing world that we live in; but, contrary to what some may believe, the term ‘diversity’ doesn’t only refer to physical attributes such as race, gender or even religion. It also encompasses generational differences, personalities and work style conflicts.
The world would no doubt be a boring place without the diversity of different people and that distinction between people is just as important and viable in the business world.
To embrace workplace diversity is to acknowledge that with each and every individual who plays a part in a company, comes a new a fresh set of ideas, perspectives and skills which, at the end of the day, is what you need to get ahead in the game and succeed.
In short, a good level of diversity means a more vibrant business – but success isn’t guaranteed by simply recruiting a mixed bag of employees. You must stress the importance of respect in the workplace to your staff to reflect this ideal.
Why is Respect in the Workplace so Important?
The saying ‘fight like cat and dog’ is one that springs to mind when I think about why respect is so important and that’s because people aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye.
For some, it’s actually pretty easy to fall into a pattern of butting heads with someone over a difference of opinions or ideas.
In fact, there are a plethora of things that colleagues might disagree on. For example;
- The correct way to carry out a project.
- The best way to solve a problem.
- A difference in overall working style.
- Workplace habits that may be seen as annoying to others.
There are all sorts of areas where employees could potentially clash. However, it is really important that staff understand that they need to remain professional and respectful at all times, even if they don’t necessarily like or agree with something or someone.
Feeling as though you or your ideas are being disregarded can make you feel undervalued and even lead to disengagement in your work altogether (and no employer wants their staff to become detached from their job).
Allowing staff to get away with disrespectful and degrading behaviours will only result in negative outcomes, such as:
- A poor company culture.
- Loss of productivity.
- High staff turnover.
- High levels of absenteeism.
- Low morale.
- Mental health and wellbeing issues amongst staff.
What will Encouraging Respect Achieve?
First and foremost, as an employer, you want to know that your staff are happy, loyal to your cause and get along with each other.
By encouraging respect in the workplace, you will be striving to:
Reduce stress, conflict and problems – Increasing the respect floating around the office will help to improve communication between staff, increase teamwork and reduce stress.
Increase productivity, knowledge and understanding – This will help the flow of ideas being exchanged which will, in turn, increase company knowledge and innovation.
Experience a more positive culture – You will notice an increase in employee satisfaction and a decrease in absenteeism and turnover.
How to Achieve Respect in the Workplace
We’ve established that respect is a very important factor in forming a positive company culture which will create a domino effect into more productivity; however, the responsibility shouldn’t fall solely to your employees.
Management needs to lead by example if they expect their staff to demonstrate acceptable behaviours and attitudes, and there’s no better way to communicate what is expected of someone than to show them firsthand.
All staff members should strive to meet the following:
Controlling anger, and any other negative (or positive) emotions for that matter, is important when in a professional environment. All emotions are important to have as (for the most part) they can be constructive and help to demonstrate your care for the company you work for and the role you play within it. However, it’s necessary to rein in your reactions to a situation and learn to let the little things go.
Management should encourage their staff to avoid obsessing over annoyances that are out of their control.
If there is a certain employee who gets noticeably angry or upset on a regular basis, you should have an informal chat with them to find out if there is a particular person or situation that triggers this behaviour. It may be that anger management techniques need to be put in place for that person which may benefit them and help them to feel more comfortable at work.
The last thing you want for your company culture is for it to be one where your staff are rude or abrasive to one another. Encourage an atmosphere that’s polite and positive. If your staff see you advocating this type of environment, especially in areas such as dispute conflict, they are more likely to follow suit.
Help Each Other
A great first step would be to organise a team building day where your staff can work together to solve (albeit fun and non-work-related) problems and establish better relationships which will help them to get on better within the workplace.
Once staff have learned to communicate in a polite and respectful manner, they will be more likely to feel comfortable and more confident to share ideas and thoughts.
Judgement amongst colleagues can stop people from getting to know each other and can result in anger and aggravation. Again, team building will really help here, as getting to know each other’s personalities, strengths, weaknesses and ideologies will help your staff to understand their peers and make them feel less inclined to judge them for things that they wouldn’t naturally do themselves.