Aretha Franklin knows it. So did Rodney Dangerfield. If executives want to gain loyalty from their employees and increase their productivity, it all comes down to a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
According to a survey from Sirota Survey Intelligence and authors of “The Enthusiastic Employee,” treating employees with respect and dignity is critical to retaining good workers, especially in a better job market. Employees who do not feel treated with respect by their employers are three times more likely to intend to leave their jobs within two years than those who feel they are treated respectfully. The survey found that 63 percent of those who do not feel treated with respect intend to leave within two years, versus only 19 percent of those who feel they are shown respect.
In addition, the survey found that how well-respected employees feel is directly related to how enthusiastic they are about their jobs. Employees who feel “very good” about how they are treated are more than three times as enthusiastic as those who just feel just “good” about how they are treated, according to the study, which surveyed 370,378 employees.
According to Douglas Klein, president of Sirota Survey Intelligence, this presents a problem because most employees, especially non-management employees, feel like they’re not respected in the office.
“The data clearly supports what many employees feel: that non-management employees are treated with less respect than management (especially senior management),” Klein said. “While almost half of senior-level managers feel they are shown a great deal of respect, just one-quarter of supervisors and only one-fifth of non-management employees feel the same way. In fact, one out of every seven non-management employees actually feels they are treated poorly or very poorly.”
According to David Sirota, lead author of “The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit By Giving Workers What They Want,” the main reason employees don’t feel they are treated with respect isn’t due to abusive behavior by management so much as it is management’s indifference or the failure of management to go out of its way to demonstrate respect to employees.
“Management’s ‘sins’ are mainly acts of omission—what management does not do—rather than commission, such as abuse,” Sirota said. “But indifferent treatment, such as failing to recognize and reward employees for jobs well done, has an enormous impact on how employees feel, and employers’ ability to retain them.”
Sirota said employers can give more their employees more respect by recognizing them for their accomplishments and providing them with the freedom to use their judgment; soliciting, listening to and acting on work-related ideas from employees, such as input on how to get the work done; encouraging innovation and ideas on new and better ways of doing things; providing employees with helpful feedback and coaching on how to perform more effectively; valuing people as individuals, and giving them a sense of being included; appreciating diverse perspectives, ideas and work styles; and listening to and fairly handling employees’ complaints.
“It’s easy to overlook how important things such as common courtesy and basic civility are in generating feelings of respect for employees,” Sirota said. “This is most vividly illustrated by how employees feel about an informal visit by the head of the company to their work areas, especially if he or she refers to them by their names. They are very pleased. Even workers who that feel this friendliness may be just a gimmick grudgingly acknowledge it as a sign of respect and a welcome change from managers who are indifferent toward employees. Conversely, the occasional overtly abusive manager can have a tremendous impact not just on the abused, but also on the many more who witness this abuse.”
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