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June 19, 2017

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

What is the one thing all employees want?  Respect.  It rates very high in almost any survey you can find.  Harvard Business Review recently published a study that revealed that when over 20,000 employees from around the world, not just the U.S., were surveyed, every single one of them rated respect as number one in importance.  In fact, companies that show respect for their employees score higher across several other categories as well.

The study was conducted by Christine Porath, associate professor of management at Georgetown University and Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project.  The study looked at how one’s workplace experience compares with others across five major categories: health and well-being, trust and safety, enjoyment and satisfaction, focus and prioritization, and meaning and significance.

Porath states, “Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating and inspiring vision, providing useful feedback – or even opportunities for learning, growth, and development.”  She stated that no other leadership behavior affected commitment and engagement from employees than respect.

Employees that reported high levels of respect also reported greater scores than those without respect in the following areas:

  • 56% better health and well-being
  • 1.72 times more trust and safety
  • 89% greater enjoyment and satisfaction with their jobs
  • 92% greater focus and prioritization
  • 1.26 times more meaning and significance in their work
  • 1.1 times more likely to stay with their organizations
  • 55% more engaged at work

In another study of 500 U.S. employees 84% of employees want to respect and be respected by their manger.  The only factors rating higher were trust, fairness, and honesty – all of which come down to respect.  Yet another study that has been ongoing for more than 30 years and includes more than 200,000 employees shows that companies that show respect for their employees experience a 117% higher engagement level than those who don’t.  They also show 64% higher operational performance.

So how do companies reach this level of respect?  Below are some tips as stated by David Grossman, CEO and communications expert at The Grossman Group:

Recognition – Recognition for your employees and the work that they do, most importantly from the leaders who are familiar with their work.  Employees who feel recognized are four times more likely to rate their boss as an outstanding leader.

Exciting Work – Employees seek out work that is challenging, interesting, and that fulfills their need for a sense of accomplishment. Excitement for work was found to come from learning something new, pioneering a project, or operating with autonomy.

Security of Employment – Job security was found to be related to the level of trust that employees felt toward leaders in their organization. Employees’ interest in the organization’s future and work is tied to their job security and the need they have to fulfill their financial obligations. 

Pay – The most important factor concerning employee pay is that it’s fair. Compensation should be based upon the work done and the contributions made.

Education and Career Growth – Allow and encourage employees the opportunities to continue to develop their skills and work toward career advancement.

Conditions – A comfortable, healthy, and safe environment is the type of place employees want to work in. However, more important than the physical environment for many people is the social environment.

Truth – Tell employees the truth and act with integrity as a leader.

As you can see, respect comes from the top down.  Leadership must display respect to its managers and employees.  It’s also important to know which factors play a larger role in each employee’s happiness.  This comes through conducting individual, ongoing feedback meetings with staff.  As Aretha Franklin sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”

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