In this blog, I want to take the liberty of paraphrasing a treatise written by Lakshmi Ramarajan and Sigal Barsade from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. They try to corner the internal motivations concerning job satisfaction and burnout when it comes to employee and organizational respect. Our individual responsibility to respect our peers, our managers, and organization IS a function of the job we do, and ignoring the simplicity of “respect” has consequences—for not only ourselves, but the people who work alongside us.
These experts talk about the influence of organizational respect and they empirically found that at an initial experience of disrespect, job burnout occurs 16 months later. They write that disrespect by peers and managers slowly eat away at the fabric of our work “why”, i.e., the purpose of us working at a particular position. According to the authors, it is even more prevalent in the service industries where front-facing client interaction is a fundamental job function. Disrespect scratches the lens of how an employee sees their job abrasively remaining in their daily field of view.
“Receiving and giving respect is understood in ethics to be a fundamental right of being human. Respect communicates recognition of one’s existence and conveys positive views of the self to which all human beings are entitled. An individual’s identity is a reflection of the approval and recognition that is gained from others. Conversely, lack of respect can negate our very existence. We are all vulnerable to disrespect. The consequences are significant and effect the deepest of self-worth. In an organizational setting, respect can be a powerful signal to individuals regarding their standing as employees.”
In a report by O’Reilly, Chatman & Caldwell’s (1991), “Respect for People” was one of seven meaningful organizational values to people at work. If disrespectful behaviors are perceived by employees, the apparent hypocrisy of an organization with “respect” as an espoused value can lead to cynicism and burnout. Conversely, treating employees with respect has been shown to increase trust in management, peers and teammates—increasing job satisfaction.
Here at Goodwill, “respect” is one of our five values. We treat one another with dignity and fairness. We appreciate the diversity of our workforce, the special needs of our participants, and the uniqueness of each employee.
As we begin 2015 with hopes of satisfying work, sometimes the most simplest of values, one of which is called “respect,” has incredible significance.