The 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 88% of U.S. employees expressed that they were satisfied with their jobs.  This percentage marked the greatest proportion of employees expressing satisfaction with their current jobs since SHRM first surveyed this factor in 2002.

In the survey’s list of the top five job contributors, respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was determined to be the most important factor. Compensation/pay ranked second; overall benefits third; and job security fourth.  Two factors tied for fifth place:  opportunities to use skills and abilities and trust between employees and senior management.

Respectful treatment of employees was the top contributor to overall job satisfaction not only in SHRM’s most recent annual survey but also in its rankings published the previous year.  The current Executive Summary provided the following insights on the findings: “The second consecutive appearance of this aspect at the top of the list of job satisfaction contributors supports the theory that although employees do place importance on financial features of a job such as pay and benefits, they consider culture and connection to be of utmost importance. Feeling appreciated for their time and efforts creates a bond between employees, management and their organization.”

These findings serve as reminders for individuals in leadership positions to demonstrate respect in their day-to-day interactions. By treating others’ respectfully, leaders can become role models for employees and exert a positive influence on the work environment.

The following are tips to assist those in leadership positions treat employees with respect and increase job satisfaction:

  1. Treat all employees respectfully, regardless of their job titles or levels within the organization.
  2. Make a choice to demonstrate respect on a consistent basis, even at times when you disagree with others’ opinions or believe their actions do not merit this response. Handle employment-related issues, including discipline and termination, in a manner that enables those involved to maintain a sense of self-worth and dignity.
  3. Be proactive in identifying personal triggers that can result in anger or frustration. Consider ways to prevent, eliminate, or deal with these “hot buttons” prior to potential issues arising. When faced with stressful situations, pause before responding, apply self-restraint, and ensure that your words and actions are respectful of others.
  4. Approach difficult situations from a more realistic perspective by considering their meaning in the overall scheme of things. Rather than catastrophizing and reacting based on initial fears, gain distance by reflecting on how these circumstances will be viewed from a future vantage point, such as a week, month, or year.
  5. Demonstrate respect in all areas of communications, including words, tone of voice, body language, and listening. Be attentive to your verbal and written messages when communicating face-to-face or using computers and other electronic devices.
  6. Acknowledge mistakes that you make rather than shifting the blame to others. Turn these situations into learning opportunities by taking responsibility for your actions, demonstrating respect for those involved, and applying insights gained as guidance for the future.
  7. Use humor selectively and only when your intent is to foster team cohesiveness. Avoid sarcastic jokes or similar remarks, understanding that these types of comments can be embarrassing and lead to defensive reactions or potential feelings of isolation.
  8. Recognize that damaged relationships can result if negative assumptions are made about others’ intentions. Before rushing to conclusions and acting impulsively, pause and reconsider the reasons for your beliefs. Ask questions and obtain relevant facts, as necessary.
  9. Express appreciation for employees on a regular basis. Act on the belief that individuals will perform at their best when contributions they make to the team are recognized and respected.
  10. Become a bridge builder by creating an inclusive work environment that values individual differences and perspectives. Be receptive to seeking employees’ input and listening to diverse points of view.

Portions of this article by Barbara Richman were previously published in the Memphis Business Journal.

Contact HR Mpact to learn more about training leaders in influencing a respectful workplace.