n 2019, Forbes predicted that thoughtfulness would be a leading trend in customer and employee experience. The contributors saw employees and customers wanting to establish emotional connections with companies beyond technology-driven interactions. They felt that people wanted to share experiences with organizations that showed an interest in them. Two years later, many companies have come to realize precisely how significant thoughtfulness is.
Respectfulness and thoughtfulness are considered synonyms for one’s ability to show proper regard for another’s needs and happiness.
What Does Respect Look Like?
Respect looks like the Golden Rule of treating others like you want to be treated. Although we try, we can become overwhelmed with the rush of a hectic workday. We forget how our actions may look to others. For example, most of us have exhibited one of the following behaviors at least once:
Been late for a meeting
Contacted co-workers after hours or on weekends
Ignored a message or delayed response to a request
We may not have considered these actions as lacking respect. We were busy, or we just didn’t get to it. Yet, more than 75% of employees considered these actions disrespectful.
Time. If you’re late to a meeting, your actions indicate that your time is more valuable than everyone else’s. If you put off answering co-workers, you’re saying their need isn’t important. Even though that wasn’t the intent, our behaviors communicated a lack of respect.
Building a respectful culture requires a commitment to focus not just on customers but also on employees and partners. To help maintain a respectful workplace, try making the following behaviors a part of your corporate culture.
1. Be Intentional
Being intentional means thinking about what you say and do before you do it. It is about responding to a situation rather than reacting to it. In scientific terms, it means listening to the prefrontal cortex instead of the amygdala. The instinctive response of the amygdala was perfect when humans were facing hungry animals. Today, those impulses need to be filtered through the more reasoned prefrontal cortex. Not every stressful situation requires a “fight or flight” response. That’s why thinking before reacting makes for a more respectful workplace.
2. Encourage Others
Everyone has ideas, but not everyone is comfortable sharing them. In thoughtful environments, people feel safe from retaliation or ridicule and are more willing to share ideas. Whether it is a team meeting or a work break, every employee should be treated with respect. No whispering in corners or insulting behaviors can be tolerated.
If organizations are going to grow, they need ways to accept constructive criticism. A culture that doesn’t encourage open communications can’t innovate. No one is going to point out ways to improve if their concerns are not treated with respect.
3. Practice Active Listening
Active listening happens when you give a speaker your full attention. You put down your phone, your tablet, or a piece of paper and focus on the person. Listening is more than words; it includes nonverbal communication. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss those cues. At the same time, you can’t expect an employee to listen if you’ve interrupted them.
Communication means asking if a co-worker has time to listen as well as actively listening. Effective communication requires practice, but it is a cornerstone of respectful interactions.
4. Be Collaborative
For years, companies built silos. Sharing information and ideas was difficult because of the corporate culture. Then came the digital transformation, and companies realized that innovation required collaboration. Companies such as Pixar and Marriott found that working together had lasting benefits if handled correctly. In environments where ideas are exchanged freely, team members focus on the bigger picture more than on whose idea is used.
5. Incorporate Success
Create an environment where success happens frequently. Sometimes, making it through the day is worth celebrating. When that happens, thank employees. Explain to everyone how their efforts resulted in a small success for the company.
6. Recognize Effort
Less than 35% of employees are engaged at work. That means that 65% of employees are actively looking for another job or are giving the minimum when it comes to working. One way to counter disengagement is by recognizing employee efforts. When employees feel appreciated, they feel respected.
7. Be Inclusive
Being surrounded by people who think alike may make for a conflict-free environment, but it inhibits growth. Companies grow because of innovation, which happens when different perspectives are brought to the table. Corporate cultures need to create environments where all employees can provide input.
A respectful workplace values the contributions of individuals from different cultures, life experiences, and education levels. These businesses foster collaboration, ask questions, and facilitate discussions to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
8. Embrace Failure
No one shouts for joy when they fail, but falling short is part of life. Failure is also one of the most challenging concepts for a company to embrace. But, failed experiments are steps along the path to innovation. For example, it took almost 50 years before a viable polio vaccine was manufactured.
Companies need to try new approaches if they want to survive. When a new approach doesn’t work, learn from the experience. Don’t berate or belittle team members for not achieving success. Use it as inspiration. Who knows what could develop?
9. Acknowledge Personal Lives
Employees do not cease to exist once they leave work. They have personal lives that may impact their professional lives. Organizations need to be respectful of an employee’s life outside of work. Who knows what crisis an employee is dealing with?
Employees may be unwilling to share their personal struggles at work. If companies are actively listening, they can “see” the need and offer assistance. Whether it’s more flexibility in work schedules or extending a deadline, organizations can respect the individual through understanding and kindness.
10. Create Shared Experiences
Corporate cultures are constructed one experience at a time. Shared experiences remind employees of what’s essential to an organization. Maybe, it’s virtual “water cooler” breaks, where team members spend 15 minutes on Zoom talking about what’s happening in their lives. For smaller teams, it may be sharing a “taco Tuesday” lunch.
Shared experiences can be celebrations after a particularly tough job is completed. Letting people tell their experiences enables employees to decompress and provides an opportunity for stories to become a part of the corporate fabric. Finding ways for employees to share activities establishes office rapport and contributes to a respectful workplace.
Building rapport is part of making a respectful working environment. At Symbia Logistics, we are committed to showing respect not only to our clients but also to our employees and partners. If you are looking to partner with a 3PL company, why not work with a business that continues to put people first?