It’s so important for employees to feel like they’re respected at work. People who feel respected are more engaged, creative, productive, and loyal to their organization. Respect makes people feel more willing and able to communicate their ideas. It alleviates stress, and it reduces interpersonal conflict.

So how can leaders make their employees feel respected? They must ensure that they’re providing two distinct kinds of respect:

  1. Owed respect – This is the basic type of respect that every employee should receive, no matter what their position in the organization. It involves civility, inclusion, and making sure that all voices are heard.
  2. Earned respect – This is the type of respect that employees get after they complete a challenging task or project. It’s recognition for employees who have achieved something great or have gone above and beyond what was expected of them.

Leaders need to convey both types of respect – and they need to be balanced. If a leader conveys owed respect but very little earned respect, employees will feel like their extra efforts aren’t appreciated. If a leader conveys earned respect but very little owed respect, this will create an ultra-competitive environment in which employees will be unwilling to help each other out or work together.

Owed respect can be conveyed by listening to employees, appreciating what they have to say, being present, being open to their advice, backing-up employees in challenging situations, and reminding employees that they’re important to the organization. Earned respect can be conveyed by publically or privately acknowledging (and possibly rewarding) employees who have put in that extra effort.

And leaders should remember that respect is infinite. It’s not something that has to be carefully divvied out because there’s a limited amount. Any employee who achieves something great should be given earned respect. And all employees should be given owed respect, regardless of their role on the company org chart.

Rogers, K. (2018, July-August). Do your employees feel respected? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: