Respect in the workplace matters. According to studies conducted by SHRM, Harvard Business Review and Gallup, respect is the number one behavior that leads to happier, more productive and more engaged employees. Every single one of us deserves to work in an environment where we feel valued, appreciated and respected. Where at the very least we feel physically and psychologically safe. We know the difference between being kind and considerate and being rude and hurtful. Yet, respect and common decency seems to be in short supply these days. In fact, a recent Willis Towers Watson study found that while over 80% of employers (i.e., senior leader respondents) believe that employees are treated with dignity and respect at their organization regardless of their job, role or level, only 65% of employees feel the same. Most of us, if not all of us, understand what it feels like to be respected and to respect others. And while leadership’s role is extremely important, creating a culture of respect is everyone’s responsibility.

Let’s start with some basics. What are the characteristics of a respectful workforce and why does it matter so much?

In a respectful workplace:

  • Changes in policies and procedures are effectively communicated
  • Employees are provided with the tools and resources they need to succeed
  • Different values, points of view and opinions are encouraged
  • Managers and coworkers listen actively to one-another
  • Communication is kind, open and civil
  • People are treated with courtesy, politeness, and kindness
  • Employees refrain from judgment or casting blame
  • Employees strive to build understanding across difference
  • Conflict is addressed in a positive and productive manner

Why does respect in the workplace matter?

  • Respectful workplaces foster happiness and well-being. When we feel respected and when we are treated with kindness, we feel better about ourselves and our coworkers, we have a more positive opinion of our work environment and are generally happier.
  • In respectful workplaces employees have a deeper sense of belonging – When we know our manager and coworkers have our back and when we feel like we belong we can let go of the stresses associated with trying to fit in or hide part of who we are. We feel safe to share our ideas, to express opposing views and to show up as our true, whole selves.
  • Respect positively impacts employee engagement – When we believe we are a valued part of a team, when we feel heard and our ideas are validated, we tend to be happier, connected and engaged and are more committed to outcomes.
  • Respect, fairness and equity go hand in hand – In respectful workplaces everyone is treated fairly and receives the support and guidance they need to succeed. Because hard work and performance are rewarded, we are motivated to do our best work.
  • Respect in the workplace improves bottom line performance. New innovative and better solutions come out of workplaces where everyone is empowered to share their ideas.

And what can you do help create a culture of respect in the workplace:

  • Be aware of your own opinions, thoughts and biases and how they impact others
  • Be kind and compassionate
  • Empathize with others
  • Listen to other people’s ideas and points of view
  • Be welcoming and inclusive
  • Be mindful of shared spaces and how you use and care for them
  • Think before you speak and choose your words carefully
  • Speak up and stand up if you witness disrespectful behavior

We all deserve the respect of our coworkers. Respectful workplaces are better places to work and support individual health and wellbeing. And generally respectful workplaces yield better results. There is literally no downside to treating your coworkers with respect. So be aware and do your part.  For more information about  VisionSpring’s Respect in the Workplace eLearning or classroom based training please visit


Robin Pedrelli is the co-founder and partner of VisionSpring, Inc. VisionSpring, Inc. is a WBENC certified women owned and operated diversity and inclusion consulting firm offering fully integrated strategy development, workforce planning, training and continuous learning solutions to leverage diversity and inclusion to drive innovation and improved business outcomes.  We provide customized strategic solutions that address the specific needs of each client and blend workforce, workplace, marketplace and community related goals.