“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” Laurence Sterne


So , what DO employees want? Even if you\’re pulling down a great paycheck, if you\’re earning it at a place where you\’re treated unfairly or disrespectfully, chances are you\’ll want out. According to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, 72% of employees rank \”respectful treatment of all employees at all levels\” to be the most important factor in job satisfaction.

Some friends and I recently had a stimulating conversation about just that subject the other night at dinner. The discussion turned to the topic of what we look for in a boss, in a company; those factors that cause us to be engaged and eager to take on new projects and show initiative.

Talented employees always have options. They are considering the value of continuing to develop their careers with your company versus looking at other career options. What can you do to keep your high performers engaged and excited about your business? What you can do to keep your employees who have an entrepreneurial spirit?

As it turned out, our group sure agreed with that survey! Respect was a “must have”. We came up with these simple, cost effective ways to show respect to your employees:

  • Be clear about your expectations and employee policies and follow them. Nothing causes more employee discontent than unclear rules and expectations and inconsistent application of those rules and policies. Favoritism or ignoring bad behavior can totally demotivate a team. The rules must apply to everyone.


  • Take a sincere and active interest in your employees and their work. Management experts advocate managing by walking around, getting to know people as individuals and see for yourself what is going on, to read the room! Numerous studies have been done that show the Appreciation managers receive when they take the time to get to know their employees and use the “platinum rule.” We all know the “golden rule”, treat others the way YOU would like to be treated. Today’s workers expect more from their managers, therefore the “platinum rule”, treat others the way THEY want to be treated.


  • Be transparent. Communicate, communicate, communicate .Keep your employees informed about the business and treat them like adults. Share the good news as well as the bad. News flash- if you are having multiple closed door meetings, you are creating an information vacuum! People will fill that vacuum with their own assumptions and start rumors about what is going on! Actively seek input and welcome ideas for improvement from those of us on the front lines!


  • Follow up on employee complaints, questions and emails with genuine concern and care. Don’t ignore them or treat employee concerns as irrelevant.


  • Provide options for career development and career enhancement. In fact, studies have shown that employees will work for less pay and benefits if they feel that they are working for an employer they believe in and where there are opportunities for career advancement.


All things considered, improving employee engagement and retaining the best and brightest could really be this simple! Providing awards, bringing in pizza, etc are all ok, but not very useful if the R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn’t there.

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