A workplace where everyone, no matter what their status, is treated with dignity and respect is a workplace where good stuff happens.
According to a 2004 Gallup study of 50,000 workers across 27 countries, respect is the number one driver for workplace engagement. It is perhaps the most fundamental ingredient for positive workplace performance, because it is the base from which other benefits will grow.
In a fast-paced industry, dealing with ever-changing client demands, tensions can run high in agencies. According to research from Digiday UK, 77% of agency professionals said they had suffered verbal harassment in the workplace. That’s hardly conducive to great creative work. A focus on respect can make all the difference.
At its most basic, respect means having consideration for yourself and others around you. It means thinking about whether you treat everyone equally, acknowledge their views, and feel treated in the same way yourself. Respect isn’t something that automatically comes with seniority…
… is respect something that should be earned?
Inclusion is critical here. Everyone deserves to be treated equally and an inclusive culture is one where everyone is treated with respect. Separate research from Gallup has found that 90% of people who say they’re not treated with respect also experienced discrimination or harassment at work.
Respect and Performance
Jane Dutton, co-founder of the Center for Positive Organisations at the University of Michigan, writes:
“The key to transforming the workplace experience is to build and nurture high-quality connections, people feel more open, competent and alive”
This enhances the quality of team collaboration and relationships, helping to reduce stress as people work as a collective, high performing unit. Dutton’s research has also found that organisations with high levels of respect enhances both individual and collective creativity. By fostering openness and acceptance, people are more likely to share their ideas and are more motivated to contribute collectively, learning from each other.
Respect also has a positive impact on retention. Writing in Harvard Business Review, assistant professor of management at Marquette University, Kirstie Rogers says:
“A respectful workplace brings enormous benefits to organisations. Employees who say they feel respected are more satisfied with their jobs and more grateful for – and loyal to – their companies. They are more resilient, cooperate more with others, perform better and more creatively and are more likely to take direction from their leaders.”
Such a positive energy leads to reduced conflict and improves wellbeing by engendering a happy work environment. Getting it wrong is damaging to performance…
48% of workers who feel they are being treated disrespectfully intentionally decrease their work effort…
…38% deliberately decrease the quality of their work
Respect and Strengths
Respect and strengths are inextricably linked. If you don’t respect yourself and are constantly questioning your skills and abilities, then you will not be able to reach your full potential. Take time to understand your own strengths. Respect them and how they contribute to the workplace.
When it comes to other people, think about your colleagues’ strengths. Respect their uniqueness and practice respectful engagement for intelligent collaboration and higher performance.
There’s a great quote in Ron McMillan’s 2002 book Crucial Conversations, which sums up this topic and is worth us all bearing in mind:
“Respect is like air. As long as it’s present, nobody thinks about it. But if you take it away, it’s all that people can think about.”
If you want to find out more on performance motivation, then click here!