Good workplace culture is not built on simply certainly minimum employment entitlements in relation to discrimination, bullying, harassment, and equal opportunity. The foundations of a successful business that people want to work for come from establishing a respectful workplace – respect for team members, respect for customers, and respect for the work we do.
Diversity in skills, knowledge, culture, values and personalities of individuals within your team should be celebrated. The celebration of that diversity starts with respect.
Implementing policies that prohibit discrimination, bullying and harassment to cover the minimum employment entitlements is a must, however it is only the first step in creating a respectful workplace. It is just as important to ensure that you are developing way to promote inclusivity, appreciation for diversity, positive communication and constructive conflict resolution practices.
Ultimately, the worst thing an employer can do is tout, especially publicly, that they are all about being a respectful, inclusive workplace but behind the scenes is a cohort of disgruntled, marginalised employees. Make sure you ‘practice what you preach’.
Respectful workplace ensure that its team members feel a sense of belonging, inclusion and support. They feel like they are heard, valued and appreciated.
A common misconception is that respectful workplace are free of disagreements – this is not necessarily the case. What they do is approach any disagreement – whether about a task or project related matter, or one of personal opinion or personality – with an aim to resolve by issue-based problem solving. It would be an unusual workplace without any new differences of opinion, and a dull one with no competing suggestions on how to do things – in some ways this is the foundation of innovation. Think of it as creative conflict!
Often, the opposite of a respectful workplace can arise as a lack of communication, information and understanding. This can be as a result of a less than ideal induction into a new business. Induction is not just about training on the work that needs to completed, its about onboarding the new team member to how everyone in their team likes to be communicated and engaged with, how we celebrate birthdays, how we work through issues, and how we help each other out in time of pressure.
What you should be doing
- Prioritise onboarding into the culture as part of induction (not just ‘training’)
- Practice what you preach
- Encourage inclusivity, respect, and diversity
- Call out disrespectful behaviour and ensure it is dealt with directly
- Deal with issues when they arise with resolution-based problem solving
What not to do
- Let disrespectful behaviour be ignored
- Rely solely on the application of policies and procedures to set the culture