From behind-the-back talking at the office water cooler to rude comments passed in whispers, office disrespect can be a problematic feature in any workplace. Even small incidents of disrespect can send shock waves resonating around the office, ultimately impacting more than just the individuals intimately involved, but instead the entire team. To prevent such a problem in your workplace, enforce respectfulness as a rule within the office.
Enlighten your workers as to respect-related laws. Arrange a training session at which you present information regarding the legalities to all workers at once, ensuring they receive the message. Being respectful is more than just good form, in some cases it's the law. With bullying and discriminatory comments an unpleasant reality in the office, individuals are increasingly turning to legal channels to get their desired recourse. If adhering to good manners isn’t enough to get your workers to be respectful, knowing that they may be violating the law by engaging in disrespectful actions certainly should be.
Write a workplace respect policy. Though putting another policy on the books may not seem like a tempting option, you can’t effectively enforce something if you don’t have a policy in place. Compose a detailed policy that outlines what it means to be respectful and what behaviors will not be tolerated. Include detailed explanations of the penalties workers could face if they choose to violate the policy, ensuring that all are informed of the potential ramifications of disrespectful behavior.
Call out violators. While you hope that enlightening your workforce to the importance of respect to which their co-workers are entitled, this isn’t always enough. If you have workers who continue to belittle, degrade or otherwise disrespect others, step up to the plate and call them on it. Hand down official sanctions if you must, because doing so is the only way to prove that you mean business.
Avoid topics that breed disrespect. Your workers likely all have their own strongly held beliefs regarding politics, religion and abortion, and these opinions likely differ. While you want your workers to form productive relationships, discussions on controversial topics can lead to discord, and ultimately, to disrespect. Label these topics and ones similar to be avoided as a proactive approach in eliminating passion-induced disrespect.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.