Employee Retention 301- All about Respect

Shawnee Love   •  
April 7, 2010

Retaining good employees is always important because good employees are always in demand. And most good employees realize that fact, so they are willing to look for new jobs if their manager or company isn’t meeting their needs.

What should you do to retain employees and encourage or motivate them?

In past articles, we talked about ensuring you get the basics like pay and vacation right, and we also discussed the value of ensuring your employees understand their jobs, know their importance to the company, and have what they need to do their jobs.

The upcoming articles are all about giving employees what they want. And contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t simply mean less work or more pay. In fact, the next block is all about giving employees accountability and respect.

I was speaking to a group a few weeks ago and someone raised their hand and asked, “Aren’t respect and accountability somewhat opposite?” Great question because at first glance it might seem that way. However, in the context I am using them, they are complementary. For example, you can demonstrate respect by giving your employees the opportunity to accomplish their goals and by holding them responsible and accountable for achievement. Employees shouldn’t believe you are checking up on them but rather that you believe in their abilities and thus are holding them to their work. To that end, two really effective methods of demonstrating respect and accountability are to delegate responsibilities and to have your employees set their own goals in alignment with company and team goals.

As a leader, it is also important to embody respect for your people. Sometimes it is difficult to put your finger on which activities demonstrate respect, but I guarantee that you know it when you experience it. And even more likely, you know it when you feel disrespected. As I am a fan of the Dilbert comic, I thought just for fun I would share a few examples of disrespect in the workplace that happen all the time.

  • Calling a meeting and not showing up.
  • Showing up late for a meeting. And making everyone start over so you won’t miss anything is even worse.
  • Interrupting a conversation to answer your phone. Multiple times. During the same conversation.
  • Reading your email while you are supposed to be listening.
  • Changing the goals but not telling anyone.
  • Checking your phone, blackberry or watch over and over.
  • Giving the same task to a bunch of people (without telling them) to “see who does it the best”.
  • Expecting your staff to be available for calls/ emails 24/7/365.
  • Asking for feedback and then not incorporating any of it into the plan and not explaining why.
  • Announcing a plant closure. Effective tomorrow.

Those are just a few examples I have seen over the years and you will notice I didn’t even get into harassment, abuse, and discrimination which are of course, fundamentally disrespectful. I will leave that topic for another day. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you about your “favourite” examples and experiences of disrespect at work. If you have any you’d like to share, please join the conversation and add your comments.

Finally, I want to emphasize that giving your employees respect and accountability is a simple and inexpensive method of encouraging retention and employee motivation, because all it takes is time, attention, and follow through.