Respect in the Workplace: Why It’s Important and How To Achieve It

Download Now: Free Sales Plan Template
Saphia Lanier
Saphia Lanier



What does it mean to show respect in the workplace? Is it calling your leaders Mr. and Ms.? Or maybe it’s listening without interrupting others, or being agreeable to your managers?

Respect in the workplace: two hands shaking.

It’s common for employees to feel that it’s more important to respect their bosses than their peers. After all, their manager can strip them of their position in the company.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not just as important to respect your co-workers. Allowing disrespect between team members can lead to all sorts of issues for the company, even detracting from its bottom line. 

Table of contents:

What is respect in the workplace?

Respect in the workplace is about treating co-workers and leaders courteously and fairly, which includes valuing their beliefs, contributions, and ideas. Respect in a work setting extends beyond employees showing respect to leadership — it includes respecting everyone in the workplace, from the mailroom staff to the boardroom executives.

Why it’s important to promote respect in the workplace

Respect is the foundation of a healthy and thriving organizational culture, where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to bring their authentic selves to work. Unfortunately, recent statistics highlight the need to foster respect in the workplace.

Employees feel like they can’t be themselves at work

According to an Emtrain survey, 56% of employees feel they can't be authentic at work. When employees need to hide or suppress their true identities, it can harm their well-being, job satisfaction, and overall performance. Creating an environment where individuals feel safe and respected for who they are is essential for personal and professional growth.

Co-workers lack empathy for one another

Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others. In the workplace, it can foster positive relationships and effective communication. Yet only 37% of employees believe people in their workplace show empathy — a concerningly low figure in a time when diversity and inclusion are front and center in many organizations. The more diverse a workplace, the more empathy workers need to keep the company functional. If they can’t understand (or try to understand) different perspectives and beliefs, then it’ll only hurt your company's culture and image. 

More conflicts in the workplace

Your words can cut just as deeply as your actions. Employees who don’t understand the impact their words and actions have on those around them can cause tremendous harm to their co-workers’ productivity and mental well-being. And yet, as of 2021, only 40% of employees agree that their co-workers understand this impact.

When individuals are unaware of how their behavior affects others, it can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a toxic work environment. Promoting respect involves cultivating an awareness of the power of words and actions, and encouraging employees to be mindful of their impact on their colleagues.

Beyond these statistics, there are several other reasons to promote respect in the workplace:

  • Increased productivity: A respectful work environment makes it easier for teams to collaborate and communicate with one another. Why? Because when employees feel respected, they’re more motivated to contribute their best efforts.
  • Enhanced employee engagement: Respectful treatment of employees creates a sense of value and belonging. When employees feel respected, they’re more engaged in their work, committed to the organization’s goals, and willing to go the extra mile.
  • Improved morale: When you show recognition and respect to employees, it boosts morale and builds a positive atmosphere. This gives workers higher job satisfaction and a sense of pride in their work.
  • Reduced turnover: Disrespected employees don’t stick around long. This increases turnover rates and costs you more as you have to recruit, onboard, and train new hires. But without fixing the underlying problem, it’s a never-ending loop of disruption and instability. 
  • Enhanced creativity and innovation: Respectful environments encourage diverse perspectives, ideas, and experiences. When employees feel respected, they’re more open to sharing their thoughts openly without fear of ridicule, leading to increased creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.
  • Stronger teamwork and collaboration: When employees feel respected, they’re more open to cooperating with co-workers and willing to consider diverse viewpoints, leading to stronger teamwork and better outcomes.
  • Better customer service: Well-respected employees are happier and more willing to be helpful — not just to their co-workers, but to your customers as well. If you have customer-facing employees, then they’re more likely to provide exceptional customer service when they themselves feel respected in the workplace.

How to show respect in the workplace

There are many ways leaders and teams can show respect in the workplace. Here are several tips to make respect front and center in your organization:

  • Practice active listening: When talking with colleagues, actively listen to their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Don’t just hear them — listen. Avoid interrupting or dismissing their thoughts, and show genuine interest in what they’re saying.
  • Use inclusive language: Be mindful of your language when communicating with others. Avoid making assumptions or using derogatory terms that may offend or exclude individuals based on their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or other characteristics.
  • Value diversity and inclusion: Recognize and appreciate the diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences of your colleagues. Embrace different ideas and viewpoints, and actively seek out opportunities to learn from others who may have different perspectives than your own.
  • Give credit where it’s due: Acknowledge and credit your colleagues for their contributions and achievements. Avoid taking credit for someone else’s work, and recognize their efforts publicly when appropriate.
  • Be mindful of personal boundaries: Respect your colleagues’ personal boundaries and privacy. Avoid prying into personal matters or engaging in gossip.
  • Be mindful of your tone and body language: Pay attention to your tone of voice and body language when interacting with others. Ensure nonverbal cues are respectful and convey a positive attitude. Avoid aggressive or dismissive gestures and maintain a professional demeanor.
  • Offer constructive feedback: When providing feedback to colleagues, be constructive, but respectful. Focus on specific behaviors or actions, not personal attacks. Offer suggestions for improvement and be open to receiving feedback in return. When possible, don’t just highlight what is wrong with a project or deliverable, but instead also mention what you think was done well.
  • Respect work-life balance: Recognize and respect the boundaries between work and personal life. Avoid expecting or demanding excessive work hours or intruding on personal time. Encourage a healthy work-life balance for yourself and your colleagues.
  • Be mindful of cultural differences: In a diverse workplace, be aware of and respect cultural differences. Educate yourself about different customs, traditions, and practices to avoid unintentionally offending or excluding others.

Respect in the workplace examples

What does respect look like in the workplace? Here are three examples:

Example 1: Active listening during meetings

Active listening allows everyone to feel heard and valued. When a team member actively listens during meetings or one-on-one conversations, it demonstrates their respect for others’ ideas and perspectives. This means maintaining eye contact, asking clarifying questions, and responding thoughtfully. Active listening not only encourages open dialogue but also fosters a culture of inclusivity and collaboration.

Pro Tip: To encourage active listening in your workplace, implement a “listening buddy” system. Pair team members during meetings and ask them to summarize each other’s points. This practice reinforces the importance of listening and ensures everyone feels heard and understood.

Example 2: Appreciating diverse backgrounds and experiences

Respect in the workplace goes beyond treating others with kindness and courtesy. It also involves embracing and appreciating the diverse backgrounds and experiences each team member brings. This will foster a culture of inclusivity and encourage creativity.

Pro Tip: To cultivate a workplace that appreciates diversity, organize team-building activities encouraging employees to share their cultural traditions, hobbies, or personal experiences. This can create a sense of belonging and understanding among team members, fostering a respectful environment where everyone feels valued.

Example 3: Constructive feedback and growth mindset

Feedback is an opportunity for growth and improvement, not just constructive criticism. When team members provide constructive feedback respectfully, it shows they care about each other’s professional development and success. They focus on specific behaviors or actions, offer suggestions for improvement, and provide support to help their colleagues excel.

Pro Tip: To promote a culture of constructive feedback, implement regular feedback sessions or peer-to-peer coaching programs. Encourage employees to provide feedback using the “sandwich method”:

Start with a positive comment, provide constructive criticism, and end with another positive comment. This approach balances feedback, so it’s always respectful and supportive.

Remember, promoting respect in the workplace is an ongoing effort that requires continuous self-reflection and awareness. By practicing these tips, you can contribute to a positive and respectful work environment for yourself and your teams.

Subscribe to The Hustle Newsletter

What did you think of this article? 

Give Feedback




Related Articles

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

Powerful and easy-to-use sales software that drives productivity, enables customer connection, and supports growing sales orgs