Our workplaces nowadays are diverse and this includes not only because of colour, race and religion, but also because of generational diversity, and because we have various skills and abilities. With such diversity, working to create a work environment that promotes respect in the workplace is increasingly important!
With respect at work, employees have the opportunity to thrive. It also though helps to create an environment in which employees and staff enjoy being. So let’s take a look at some tips for promoting a respectful workplace.
1. Create an Emotionally Intelligent Workplace
One of the most effective ways to immediately improve respect between employees in your workplace, from my experience as a trainer, is to build what is known as ‘Emotional Intelligence’ amongst staff.
To understand emotional intelligence, let me give you an example. Imagine that an employee has some amazing ideas for your business that may or might not work. They are too scared though to suggest such ideas in a meeting for fear of being mocked by other staff, so they keep quiet.
So in this example, there is no open environment where staff feel free to speak up and to engage with each other. The environment, in other words, does not breed openness and is not one that invites employees to feel comfortable to speak freely.
A manager who has good emotional intelligence is able to pick up on any sign of discomfort that team members have, as they are attuned to other people’s (as well as their own) emotional states.
So, in this case, an emotionally intelligent manager would be able to realise that there is a sense of fear of speaking up in the team and would be proactive in encouraging everyone to contribute with their ideas.
Emotional intelligence training aims to teach managers, team leaders and employees how to create a better environment for all to be confident and to allow others to be confident in the workplace.
A workplace that encourages positive emotional intelligence, you will find, also helps to breed better respect between employees.
ACTION: Consider the benefits and effectiveness of providing your staff with Emotional Intelligence training.
2. Consider Providing Equality and Diversity Training for All Staff
As mentioned in the introduction to this post, we are working in more diverse workplaces these days as people from different age groups, backgrounds, cultures and religions work together.
The workplace has never been so diverse and if managed well, there are massive benefits to having a diverse workforce. Consider, for example, the range of skills, experience, knowledge and expertise that a diverse workforce can bring to a company.
Unconscious Bias Training
It is sometimes asked, how can we change a bias if it is unconscious, i..e. we don’t realise we are doing it. It’s a fair question. Unconscious bias training helps us to understand how our own biases come about and helps us to be more aware of standard techniques for making decisions in ways that are more inclusive and fairer for all.
Ageism these days, for example, is a common form of unconscious bias that exists in many workplaces, where younger workers often see older workers as ‘past it’.
Likewise, managers might often promote employees who fit into that manager’s own personality type or social background. Unconscious bias training helps us to begin to unpick some of these traits that we all have.
In terms of teaching respect in the workplace, unconscious bias training can be a powerful tool in helping employees to learn to better understand and work with their colleagues.
Equality and diversity training should also be seriously considered as a part of your Onboarding Training (known as induction training in the UK). Onboarding training is a great way to introduce new employees to the workforce culture that you are trying to manifest and that will include respect in the workplace.
ACTION: Consider providing all staff equality and diversity training. As a company, having a happy workforce can greatly improve productivity, reduce staff turnover, and it’s ethically a good thing to do.
3. Help Your Staff to Understand Resilience Fundamentals
Helping staff to better understand the concept of ‘Resilience in the Workplace’, breeds a workforce that is more compassionate to fellow employees and this, in turn, helps to improve the respect between staff.
In terms of respect for others they work with, employees benefit from ‘Resilience training’ by learning to be more:
- able to cooperate with others they work with and/or manage
- creative, innovative and proactive (and this, in turn, helps inter-employee relationships and interactivity)
- adaptable to change
The fundamentals of Resilience training is designed to teach staff how to endure, recover from and thrive as a result of adversities. These skills benefit not just the employee undertaking the training but also the company itself. Happier staff equate to more productive staff.
Resilience teaches us not just how to work better and more happily ourselves, but also how to work better with those around us.
ACTION: You might wish to think about teaching your employees how to improve their resilience in the workplace. Both the individual and the company can benefit from more resilient staff.
4. Look at Developing Better Communication Between Employees
Communication plays such a vital role in every workplace and it is so often the underlying cause of issues and problems that exist.
Even the smallest issue that was unintentional and innocent at first, can, over time, evolve into a big problem that can impact not only the two individuals involved, but sour the vibe for everyone in the team or whole workplace.
When we talk about communication skills in the workplace these forms of communication can include:
- verbal communication – the things we say and how we say them
- non-verbal communication – the body language we use
- written communication – such as emails
- listening – active listening skills are invaluable
- visual communication – how we use and interpret images including from social media, TV etc.
- psychological safety – the feeling of being able to speak up and communicate your ideas with anyone without fear of reprisal
When employees are better able to communicate with each other, the number of issues resulting from misunderstanding will decrease. This in turn helps to improve respect between employees.
Communication is certainly an area in which employees can improve with the right training.
ACTION: Think about how you can improve communication within the workplace (you can check the interpersonal skills page for training materials).
5. Ensure That Managers and Team-Leaders are Trained, Especially First-time Managers
Whilst we have talked about the various soft skills that you can provide to your employees in order to help improve respect within the workplace, here I want to emphasize the role of the managers.
Managers undoubtedly greatly influence the work atmosphere and culture and consider this point: In various studies, over 44% of first-time managers report not having been trained properly in how to properly manage people and teams, when they started their role.
If training budgets are limited, then you might want to give priority, if you are the business owner or HR manager, to providing training for managers. It is the managers who need to instil a climate of respect and trust amongst employees.
The issue though is that many first-time managers (and also long-term managers) simply have never been trained in how to manage people – as strange as it might sound.
Many managers have risen through the ranks of the company and progressed because of their skills and expertise in a specific work area. These skills though often are not people management skills.
Consider training for first-time managers such as:
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds
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