The Respect Factor in Employee Retention
When employers treat their employees with respect, all stakeholders benefit
By David Cox, SHRM-SCP | April 24, 2018
Throughout my career, I’ve observed that the most successful organizations strive to retain competent employees. Doing so generates goodwill in the workplace, but it also has a positive impact on long-term skill development, reductions in hiring costs, and the quality of the product or service a company provides. In this context, improving employee retention represents a potentially significant financial gain for businesses and organizations.
According to the 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 89% of U.S. employees expressed “satisfaction” with their jobs. I was surprised to learn that this marked the highest percentage of employees expressing satisfaction with their jobs since SHRM first conducted this survey in 2002.
The survey revealed several contributing factors to employee satisfaction. These included compensation, overall benefits, and job security. Also listed were opportunities for employees to use their skills and abilities, and a high-level of trust between employees and employers. However, the top contributing factor (and the least costly by far) was the intentional effort of employers to treat all employees with respect.
Respectful treatment of employees was also the top contributor to overall job satisfaction in the 2016 survey as well. Why should employers lead and take the initiative in treating their employees with respect? The answer is clear: When employers demonstrate respect towards their employees in day-to-day interactions, the bond between them is strengthened and employee retention rates improve. An added bonus is that this behavior is usually mirrored in employee-to-employee relationships.
Treating employees with respect doesn’t cost an employer or business anything. It’s difficult to imagine a more cost-effective retention factor. However, if employers fail to demonstrate respect for their employees, their businesses risk financial losses from lower morale and higher turnover rates. The good news is that such risks are avoidable.
Susan Heathfield, a writer for thebalance.com addressed this same subject in a recent article and offered the following 12 suggestions to help employers lead in treating employees with respect and increasing their overall job satisfaction.
- Treat all employees with courtesy, politeness, and kindness, regardless of their job titles or position within the organization.
- Encourage employees to express opinions and ideas. Demonstrate respect even if you disagree with their opinions or feel the ideas they’ve proposed are not workable.
- Listen to what others have to say before expressing your point of view. Never speak over, interrupt, or cut off another person.
- Let employees know when you decide to use their idea. Better yet, give the employee the opportunity to implement his/her idea.
- Never insult, disparage, or put down employees or their ideas.
- Don’t ridicule, belittle, judge, demean, or patronize employees.
- Be aware of your body language, tone of voice, and your demeanor in all your interactions at work. People hear what you are saying through non-verbal, as well as verbal communications.
- Improve your ability to interact with employees and managers in a way that emphasizes the knowledge you’ve gained from your awareness of people. It will make you better able to offer sympathy and relate with empathy as you step into the shoes of those with whom you work.
- Treat people with the same respect no matter their race, religion, gender, size, age, sexual orientation, or country of origin. Implement policies and procedures consistently so people feel they are treated fairly and equally.
- Include all co-workers in meetings, discussions, trainings, and events. While not every person can participate in every activity, don’t marginalize, or exclude anyone without cause. Provide an equal opportunity for employees to participate on committees, task forces, or continuous improvement teams.
- Praise much more frequently than you criticize. Encourage employees and supervisors to do the same.
- The Golden Rule applies in the workplace, or as professional speaker Leslie Charles says frequently, “You want to implement the platinum rule at work: Treat others as you would wish to be treated at work.”
By treating employees respectfully, employers can improve morale, engagement, and job satisfaction throughout their respective organizations. Moreover, the respect employers show their employees may be the best and most cost-effective strategy for retaining their organization’s most talented employees.
Up next: How’s Your Leadership at Work?