You may be highly trained and proficient in all the aspects of your business, but if your employees are rude or simply don't respect one another, your company will suffer from a high turnover and absenteeism. A hostile work environment negatively affects productivity and can be quite costly. In fact, one study showed that American employees devoted 2.8 hours each week resolving conflicts, which cost $359 billion in lost work time.
Unfortunately, many of today's workplaces struggle with this issue. Here are a few basic guidelines for cultivating a more respectful workplace environment:
Recognize and Respect Different Opinions
One of the main ways to promote civility in a workplace is by being more inclusive. Realize your employees are individuals, each with their own unique life experiences, backgrounds and views. Before expressing your opinions, take time to listen to their views, even if you initially think they're wrong. Furthermore, don't interrupt, cut off or speak over someone who's talking.
Put an End to Gossip
A huge problem today in workplaces is gossip. When this occurs, it's critical that you have a one-on-one meeting with the specific individuals who are starting the rumors. Meet in a conference room where you can shut the door, so no one else can hear what you're saying. The people starting these malicious rumors need to understand how spreading gossip hurts a business, leading to severe consequences, such being demoted or fired.
Make a Policy to Not Discuss Politics or Religion at Work
Be sure your employees make a habit of not discussing politics or religion at work as this usually leads to conflict. Although workers who like to express their political or religious views hope to change the beliefs of others, the likelihood is extremely low when trying to do so and especially at a workplace. Even worse, airing political and/or religious differences can create walls between co-workers rather than build bridges.
Encourage Your Employees to Look for the Positive
Whenever an employee comes to you complaining about a co-worker, listen intently to what he or she has to say and find ways to solve the problem. However, it's just as important to point out the good in people who tend to be more challenging. For example, you could say something like, "I can understand how you may feel intimidated by Mr. K's harsh tone, but he's been a faithful employee for more than 30 years and has been instrumental in securing major contracts. Is there anything you like about him as a co-worker?"
Set a Good Example
If you set positive standards as to how to treat co-workers respectfully but fail to be a positive example, your efforts are useless. Thus, it's important to model those qualities so that people working for you can follow in your footsteps.
Other Considerations and Warnings
- Recognize your triggers regarding what angers and frustrates you and then find ways to control how you react.
- Instead of relying on assumptions about someone, take the needed time to get the facts regarding a situation.
- Practice active listening when you talk with your employees. This shows that you respect them and truly care about what they think.
- In addition to watching what you say, be aware of your tone of voice and body language.
- Recognize your own weaknesses. When you acknowledge that you've made mistakes, too, you become more approachable and human. This can help your employees to be more transparent with you.
- Learn to laugh at yourself and encourage your employees to do likewise instead of making fun of co-workers.
- Don't be overly critical or judge employees on stuff that isn't that important.
- If you must criticize someone, try to add something positive before you criticize. In other words, use the "sandwich approach", in which you start and end with positive statements. What's more, teach your employees to do use this technique when dealing with co-workers.
- Encourage your employees to be sensitive to the needs of others.
Get Help With Your HR From Harbor America
Creating a respectful workplace environment can take a good portion of your time, leaving you with less hours in your workday. Why not join the growing number of business managers who are handing over the job of HR (Human Relations) to a PEO (Personal Employer Organization). HR is one of the many services of Harbor America. Please contact us for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you accomplish more.