3 simple ways managers can foster a positive work environment

When trying to improve employee job satisfaction, many managers focus on training, communication, and recognition. While these tactics can be helpful, they won’t make much of an impact if employees don’t feel respected.

A Society for Human Resource Management study found 72 percent of employees feel being respected at work is the most important aspect of their job satisfaction. Yet, only 33 percent of employees report being “very satisfied” with respectful treatment of employees at all levels.

As a manager, you can help infuse more respect in the workplace by being clear, holding people accountable and leading by example.

Here are practical steps that can help you accomplish all three and create a positive work environment for both you and your employees.

Set expectations

If employees aren’t clearly and regularly told what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, you run a higher risk of them being disrespectful—whether intentional or not.

At least once a year you should review your company’s code of conduct, sexual harassment, bullying, and harassment policies. You should also frequently remind your staff of your specific expectations as it relates to teamwork and respect. In addition to regularly reviewing policies and behavioral expectations with your staff, it’s important they know how to file a complaint if someone in the workplace is treating them or someone else disrespectfully.

Your HR Business Partner is a great resource so be sure to reach out to them for support. They can help communicate some of these policies to your team and will be there for you and the staff if anyone has questions or concerns.

Performance manage

Employees who are disrespectful are toxic to the work environment and can significantly impact team morale and productivity. Disruptive behavior in the workplace causes teams to be less engaged resulting in decreased focus, absenteeism and turnover.

From my years of management experience, I have learned one of the most effective ways to make an employee feel respected is to hold those who demonstrate inappropriate behavior accountable. The best way to do this is to let the disrespectful employee know their behavior is unacceptable and that disciplinary action will occur if it continues. Then, if the behavior isn’t corrected, be sure to take immediate action by putting the employee on a warning or terminating them as you see fit.

For helpful tips on how to deliver constructive feedback check out my article “Good or bad, lack of feedback is hurting employee engagement.”

Be a good role model

Sad but true, many leaders don’t treat their staff respectfully which has a negative trickle-down effect on the organization.

Case in point: The Harvard Business Review and CEO and Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, conducted a survey to learn why employees are disrespectful and why they behave uncivilly. Twenty-five percent of employees claimed they don’t have a role model for respect in their organization and that they’re just behaving as their leaders do.

If you want employees to be respectful and to feel respected, you need to set a good example. Be fair and professional, demonstrate good listening skills and always show compassion and integrity.

Photo credit: handshake via photopin (license)

Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.

3 thoughts on “3 simple ways managers can foster a positive work environment”

  1. I love this one “Employees who are disrespectful are toxic to the work environment and can significantly impact team morale and productivity.” I wish companies paid more attention on this as it will affect their bottom line. When employees work alongside individuals like this, it can easily affect the level of work they produce for numerous reasons. Also, respect is very important throughout an organization and unfortunately managers can tend to lead by how they are treated by upper management. It would be difficult for them to discern they are doing anything wrong if this is what is considered the “norm” in their business environment. People tend to be more productive when they perceive it to make an actual difference. Great post!

    1. Thanks for your insights Sue. I’m with you all the way! Management can become so hyper-focused on innovation, cost-cutting and the bottom line that they forget the basics – Communicating effectively, acting ethically and showing their workforce respect and appreciation. Hopefully the ones who need a friendly reminder have read this article :).

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