R-E-S-P-E-C-T - Find Out What it Means to Your Employees.

December 10, 2015 | By Kerrie Main

Organizations that do not address disrespect in the workplace face many challenges.

From the seemingly innocuous joke to racial or ethnic slurs, disrespect in the workplace comes in many shapes and forms, some more blatant than others. Do your employees blame each other for mistakes? Is there gossip? Do your supervisors berate employees publically? These types of disrespectful behaviors often occur even when the corporate culture has set guidelines and rules to prevent them. HR may not be aware of them, but they are surely seeing the repercussions of these types of behaviors in employee satisfaction and turnover rates.

Negative Impacts of a Disrespectful Workplace

Organizations that do not address disrespect in the workplace face many challenges. They could be sued for discrimination, or simply damage their corporate reputation, which could lead to losing their ability to attract and retain high performers, as well as miss opportunities for innovations generated in part by the multiple perspectives of diverse individuals.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than 20 percent of full-time employees plan on changing jobs this year. The most popular reasons for this were salary concerns and "not feeling valued." The latter is certainly one of the consequences of a disrespectful workplace, one in which employees do not feel valued, respected or appreciated.

Employee turnover is quite expensive, with direct and indirect costs affecting the organization's bottom line. While calculating turnover accurately can be difficult, HR industry experts report that turnover costs an average of 50% percent or more of the departing employee's salary. The American Management Association (AMA) calculates turnover costs using a more conservative estimate of 30% of salary.

For example, an organization with 5,000 employees and a turnover rate of 18%, loses about 900 employees per year. With an average annual salary of $35,000, that means the organization is spending $9,450,000 on turnover costs each year. If they could reduce turnover to 12% per year, they can retain 300 more employees and save $3,150,000 per year.

How to Identify the "Bad Apples"

Short of having the CEO sign up for "Undercover Boss," there are several things an organization can do to identify if they have disrespect issues in the workforce.

New Hire Surveys

New hire surveys are tools designed to identify systemic problems and successes around recruitment, new hire orientation, onboarding and early training. One of their goals is to assess whether or not new hires are being welcomed and assimilated appropriately into the organization.

Do new hires feel comfortable in their new work environment? Do all employees feel as if they are on a path to long-term success within the organization? Is there a particular employee group (age, race, gender, etc.) that does not feel respected? These tools can help companies identify if new hires feel respected from the get-go, and then appropriate measure can be put into place if the answer is "no."

Exit Interviews

Another effective traditional tool is exit interviews. Organizations can survey their resigning employees to see exactly why they are leaving - to pursue a more advanced job, to get a higher salary, because he or she didn't feel valued, etc. Companies who use technology-based exit interviews can aggregate the data to view it by tenure, department, gender, etc. to see why different employee segments are leaving at different rates.

Transfer Surveys

Transfer surveys allow HR to gain important feedback from current employees about their soon-to-be past managers, departments, experience in the company and more. While many employees transfer within the organization to continue growing along their career paths, others may look to transfer because they have problems with their current managers, departments or positions. Transfer surveys are tools that allow HR to learn exactly why people are leaving their current positions, and if the reason is a disrespectful work environment, it can be remedied for future employees.

The first step to transforming a disrespectful workplace is identifying where and how these hurtful behaviors are occurring. Some organizations may learn that the problems are focused in certain departments or that a particular employee group is feeling disrespected. The good news is that once the areas have been identified, they can be corrected!

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