“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect.” Since its release in 1967, The Queen of Soul’s Grammy-winning, saucy song has been enjoyed the world over. While the roots of the song were grounded in the women’s rights movement, Aretha Franklin must have relished that the anthem became, and to this day still is, a rallying cry for anyone who feels marginalized including because of their skin color or whom they choose to love. The song’s popularity could be attributed to its relatability. On a very basic level, doesn’t everyone want to feel respected? So why is it that so many people today don’t feel respected? What would our world look like if that were to change?
Do You Have A Respectful Workplace?
Because workplaces are often microcosms of the world at large, you’d be right to conclude disrespect may exist in your workplace. A respectful workplace means many different things to people, but most would agree a respectful workplace is a safe environment for all, free from harassment, bullying, discrimination, favoritism and incivility. Merely having anti-harassment and discrimination policies in your employee handbook probably isn’t enough. Establishing and growing a respectful workplace requires intentional actions initiated by leadership.
Where Do I Start?
A respectful workplace permeates throughout a company. Valuing and treating employees fairly should be seen in company culture, core values, benefit offerings, company policies and compensation practices.
Executive buy-in matters immensely to a company’s ability to establish a respectable workplace. Employees typically emulate what they see from above. Here are some ways in which leadership can foster a respectful corporate culture:
- Encourage diverse teams and committees recognizing that a wide range of values and ideas often results in innovative solutions and outcomes.
- Understand that conflicts and mistakes will occur in the workplace, and take responsibility for your mistakes. Practice self-restraint, focusing on the end objective and alternative approaches when things don’t go as planned.
- Give others the benefit of the doubt, resisting the urge to act on negative assumptions about others’ intentions.
- Understand situations that make you angry and frustrated so you can recognize and respond more appropriately to “trigger” situations.
- Don’t get caught up in office gossip or politics in day-to-day interactions.
- Do your part to engage in outreach to minorities, veterans, the disabled and other underrepresented classes of people.
- Remember the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated.
You cannot have a conversation about corporate culture without mentioning core values. A company’s core values are its guiding principles at the heart of every business interaction and decision. Core values state to the world who you are, what you stand for and how you conduct yourself. Every employee in your organization should know your core values, because they read them in your employee handbook and on your website and live them every day at work. They don’t have to be earth-shatteringly stated. In fact, simple may be better. To articulate your core value concerning respectability in the workplace, consider:
- Treat Others with Respect.
- Compassion Towards Others.
- Act with Integrity.
- Be Admirable.
It doesn’t matter how you say it, but that you do and live by it.
Think outside the traditional benefit offerings for ones that may reach a broader audience. Does your workforce have aging parents, pets, long commutes, young children, financial insecurity, student debt, disabled family members? Understand your workforce demographics and build a benefits package your employees will value demonstrating how much you value them. Some ideas to consider are:
- Flexible work arrangements, including remote work, job-sharing, telecommuting and hoteling.
- Ample paid time off including, personal leave, volunteer leave, maternity/paternity leave, vacation, floating holidays, parental leave, caregiver leave and bereavement leave.
- Professional development opportunities such as online and in-person training, seminars and workshops.
- Senior care management programs.
- Back-up childcare arrangements.
- Pet insurance.
Remember that your workforce demographics and needs change so be sure your benefit offerings aren’t set in stone and stale. HR should conduct a complete analysis of the value of benefit offerings annually.
Even when comparing across similar titles and seniority, women still make less than men. Glassdoor reports women earn about 95 cents for every dollar men earn. In jobs such as computer programming, culinary arts and dentistry, the problem is worse with women making 72 cents per dollar men make. Disparities exists among different races as well. Pew Research found that college-educated black and Hispanic men earn roughly 80 percent the hourly wages of white college-educated men. To combat these disparities and ensure your compensation policies and practices are demonstrative of a respectful workplace, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you committed to implementing a fair compensation strategy and holding others accountable for enacting that strategy?
- Who is documenting or reviewing compensation decisions to ensure adherence to policies, consistency for all employees and alignment to corporate values?
- Is executive compensation directly tied to achieving diversity initiatives?
- Have you conducted a compensation audit considering all forms of compensation (hiring bonuses, starting salaries, raises, perks) to ensure equity among all groups of employees included protected groups such as minorities, veterans and women?
- Does favoritism, intentional or not, play a part in management decisions concerning hiring, pay increases, promotions and work assignments?
Compensation strategy and philosophy must directly reflect a company’s commitment to respecting its workforce.
Corporate policies must reflect that diversity is not just about physical attributes like race and gender but also about lifestyles, personalities and generational differences. Embracing differences among your workforce and protecting them against harassment, discrimination and hostile working conditions is a must. Among the policies that should be included in your employee handbook are:
- Equal Employment and Opportunity
- Reasonable Accommodation
- Harassment and Sexual Harassment
- Workplace Violence
- Code of Conduct
- Open Door
- Reporting a Grievance
The Smart HR Way
At Smart HR, we practice what we preach. Prominently displayed in the Smart HR Employee Handbook are our Core Values:
- Client Centered
- Continually Learning
Smart HR consultants conduct business in accordance with these values and maintain the highest level of respect and integrity in their interactions with each other and Smart HR clients. We understand each client is unique, and we strive to honor your individuality and provide HR solutions that work for your diverse workforce. Call us today at (703) 952-3177.