Respect and Communication: Pathways to Productive and Satisfied Employees

Posted on: December 04, 2020
In: Labor & Employment

By: Mary A. Smigielski

As we come off Election Day, there has been a lot of discourse about respect. So, let’s talk about respect in the workplace. Too often, legal claims arise when employees are not treated with basic respect. Business owners and managers must learn to respectfully communicate their expectations to those who work for them. Employees are not robots who perform rote tasks; they are humans who deserve respect and the information they need to perform successfully at work. Indeed, if they are good enough to hire, they are good enough to develop and retain.

Too often, management’s failure to communicate is the reason that employees become confused, angry, or disgruntled, and then attack. These attacks can take many forms, from the passive aggressive undermining, to false legal claims, or even the worst-case scenario of workplace violence. Having been practicing employment law for longer than I care to admit, I have seen that the common denominator at the root of these issues is, more often than not, lack of respect and communication. Eliminating these factors can significantly reduce legal risk and general headaches. A few tips for employers:

  • Treat all employees with courtesy, politeness, and kindness.
  • Motivate them with positive recognition and by providing the tools they need to perform.
  • Do not manage by fear. It does not work to disparage, insult, bully, demean, or patronize employees. Yelling at people will not improve performance, no matter how loudly you yell.
  • Listen and actually hear what others have to say before expressing a point of view. It might turn out that you are not the smartest person in the room.
  • Encourage employees to express ideas and opinions. And then listen and respond to them. If an idea doesn’t work, explain why it doesn’t work. If an idea does work, give credit where credit is due.
  • Be empathetic. An employer might be able to force an employee to do something if they want to keep their job, but what impact will it have? It may be necessary, but consider it carefully and explain why you are doing it.
  • Include the proper stakeholders in meetings and other functions. Business needs and job functions, not whether a manager likes someone, govern exclusion.
  • Be a leader. A positive management style and clear communication will go further than you can imagine.

Bottom line, treating all employees fairly and equally will reduce your legal claims. It sounds simple, but are you doing it?

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