Treating Your Employees with Respect

How does respectful treatment of employees impact job satisfaction?

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | February 16, 2017

I recently had an opportunity to review the 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The survey indicated that 88% of U.S. employees expressed “satisfaction” with their jobs.  This percentage marked the greatest increase of employees expressing satisfaction with their jobs since SHRM first conducted this survey in 2002.

The survey revealed several contributing factors to employee satisfaction. These included compensation, overall benefits, and job security. Also listed were opportunities for employees to use their skills and abilities, and trust between employees and senior management. However, the most significant contributing factor by far is the respectful treatment of all employees by employers (including managers and supervisors).

It’s interesting to note that respectful treatment of employees was also the top contributor to overall job satisfaction in the 2015 survey as well.  The message is clear: When employees feel appreciated for their time and efforts, the bond between employees, management and their organization is strengthened.

These factors serve as a reminder for employers to practice courtesy and respect towards employees in their day-to-day interactions. An article from the Memphis Business Journal offered several suggestions to help leaders treat employees with respect and increase overall job satisfaction. Here are just a few:

  1. Treat all employees with respect, regardless of their job titles or levels within the organization.
  2. Demonstrate respect towards employees on a consistent basis, even at times when you disagree with their opinions or believe their actions may not deserve such courtesy.
  3. Handle employment-related issues, including discipline and termination, in a manner that enables those involved to maintain a sense of self-worth and dignity.
  4. When faced with stressful situations, pause before responding, practice self-restraint, and ensure that your words and actions are respectful of others.
  5. Approach difficult situations from a more realistic perspective. Not every difficult situation is a “the tip of the iceberg” or “slippery slope” issue. Rather than reacting based on your initial fears or catastrophic beliefs, gain a little distance by reflecting on how these circumstances will be viewed a week, month, or year from now.
  6. Demonstrate respect in how you communicate by being mindful of things such as tone of voice, body language, and listening. Double-check your written texts by reading them aloud to someone else.
  7. Acknowledge mistakes that you make rather than shifting the blame to someone else. Turn these situations into learning opportunities by taking responsibility for your actions, demonstrating respect for those involved, and applying insights gained as guidance for the future.
  8. Build bridges by creating an inclusive work environment that values individual differences and perspectives. Be receptive to seeking employees’ input and listening to diverse points of view.

By treating employees respectfully, leaders can become role models for their people and increase job satisfaction throughout the organization. Moreover, the respect you show your employees may be the best strategy for improving your work environment and retaining your most talented employees.

David Cox

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