How can companies create a culture of dignity and respect for employees?
To help your company create a culture of dignity and respect for its employees, we asked HR experts and business leaders this question for their best ideas. From creating solid leadership to remembering that it's an ongoing process, there are several ideas that may help your company create a culture of dignity and respect.
Here are nine ways companies can create a culture of dignity and respect for employees:
1. Dignity and Respect Begins With Leadership
The effectiveness of a person's leadership rests in other's willingness to follow. To increase such willingness, leaders at all levels, both formal and informal, create a culture of dignity and respect by honoring others’ individual differences. Once established, this creates a psychologically safe work environment where people know that they, as individuals, and their contributions are valued and not judged negatively. The most effective leaders understand that great care must be taken to nurture a culture of dignity and respect continually and that it takes time and focused attention. Leaders that can cultivate such a culture set their organizations up for success through climates of change and uncertainty.
- Ed Slover, Grand Canyon University
2. Start From the Top Down
Creating a culture of dignity and respect starts from the top and trickles down. If senior members of your company do not treat everyone with respect, they set the example that other higher-ups are entitled to treating others badly. On the flip side, if there is mutual respect across all layers and hierarchies, this will be infectious and carry through the entire organization.
- Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
3. Hire the Right People
When recruiting talent, you mustn’t just search for people who can do the job. You also need to look for people who fit your culture. If you want to create a culture of dignity and respect, you need to incorporate this into your hiring rubric and ensure this is a quality you are vetting early in the recruitment process. This can be through reference checks, reviewing their LinkedIn recommendations, or even including questions about it in the interview.
- Nikitha Lokareddy, Markitors
4. Building a Better Organizational Culture
The key to strong organizational culture is empowerment. Not just from the standpoint of decision-making, but encouraging people to bring their talents, skills, quirks, and individuality with them each and every day. People who are free to be themselves are more creative problem solvers and designers, and as an added benefit, they tend to be more productive. Embrace the differences, whatever they are; make everyone feel comfortable and know that they are cared for by leadership and each other. This type of growth mindset will help any organization thrive.
- Darrell Kidd, Rain Digital
5. Celebrate Success
If you want to demonstrate respect and build a culture of dignity, inclusion and equity, the easiest and fastest approach is to celebrate successes. However, you must use a proven method; this sharing can't be just your opinion without any thought or preparation. You must acknowledge your colleagues based on the facts—what actually occurred, not your opinion. If you share only your opinion, people do not internalize their role in the successes. Plus, you must tell them how they made a difference for you, the team, a client, etc. These two components regularly shared in public and private will build a culture where you not only have dignity and respect but where innovation gets ignited because people feel safe to step up and speak up.
- Katharine Halpin, The Halpin Companies Inc.
6. Focus on Communication and Compassion
In order to create a culture of dignity and respect for employees, leaders should model two things: clear communication and compassion. First, focus on clear, open communication, including policies that encourage employees to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion concepts in the workplace (and, of course, prohibit harassment and discrimination), which serves as the foundation for great culture within an organization. Organizations should consider investing in communication skills training for their employees, especially leaders, so that they can model clear communication based on respect and dignity. Second, leaders must lead with compassion. They should provide guidance for employees with the understanding that life is complex, and treat each employee as an individual who deserves personalized consideration and support.
- Niki Ramirez, HR Answers
7. Listen For the Answer
Ask employees what is important to them. Ask them what they would change in the organization. Ask them what they like about working there. But even more important than the question is listening for the answer. Whether it's a survey or a town hall or one-on-one conversations, it is critical to demonstrate that everyone has been heard and their feedback is taken seriously. Maybe provide a summary of feedback and share it company-wide, along with how the company plans to respond. And then the company has to do what they say they are going to! I feel respected as a person when I feel heard and acknowledged. It is very simple, but not easy. And that kind of engagement cannot be faked.
- Becky Papp, Colman Group
8. Attitude Counts
Positivity is contagious. In fact, according to research done by U.S. World and News Report, all emotions can be contagious. Specifically, they found that “upbeat emotions such as enthusiasm and joy, as well as negative ones such as sadness, fear and anger, are easily passed from one person to another, often without either party realizing it.” Taking time to promote and display positive behaviors will permeate through your organization, impacting your attitude and others around you. Small acts of positivity like smiling or speaking optimistically can add a powerful energy to the workplace. Taking time to say thank you or compliment someone can have a real and sustainable impact on an employee’s mindset. Through positive actions and kindness, any company can create a more respectful culture of dignity for its employees.
- Tyler Butler, 11Eleven Consulting
9. It’s an Ongoing Process
Congrats on choosing to create a culture of dignity and respect. Your goal is to identify the culture and perspective gaps between different people throughout your company, across and within departments and teams. You’ll need to develop techniques and processes that help you discover this and mitigate the impacts of your own biases while doing this research. This isn’t a one-time project; it’s relationship management. For a strong relationship, you keep checking in and working on things in the background. Understand the underlying motivations and cultural standards behind the why’s and how’s of the other people. Exercise emotional, situational, and cultural intelligence as much as possible throughout. Understand we all have biases, prejudices, and deeply held beliefs that we unknowingly or intentionally exercise. Addressing this, along with how it impacts others and, by extension, your company, is vitally important yet often uncomfortable to discuss and discover.
- Lindsey MacNeil, Executive Design Strategist Coach
Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.