Current knowledge about organizational success emphasizes the importance of treating employees with dignity. What does this mean, and how is this carried out?
To be respected and treated with dignity is a fundamental human need which promotes a sense of well-being and motivates a person to learn, grow and develop. Employees who are accorded dignity are energized, and with wise leadership, these energies can be directed toward the goals of the organization to produce the desired result.
As an employer, what must be done to treat employees with dignity? First of all, you hired your employees with some degree of respect for their qualifications and/or for their personal qualities. You have a trust that they will honor the agreements made when hired:
- that they will be loyal to the company or organization and have its best interests at heart,
- that they will perform the duties specified to the best of their ability,
- that they will bring to your attention any problem that will hurt the company or organization, and
- that they will be honest in their communications with you and with coworkers.
The qualities above are inherent in people and will be brought out when honest communication and a level of trust is established. If employees feel that the employer cares about them, respects their individual rights, wants them to perform well and will reward good work, then loyalty is built. When employees are viewed as valuable members of the organization’s team, they will want to contribute to make that organization a better workplace and to be successful. With continued communication and engagement, you can then harness these energies and align them toward the goals of the organization.
What are the actions you can take which dignify employees?
• Have expectations that are clear and reasonable and make these clear to them
• Continue to communicate clearly
• Share successes as well as failures; treat them as trusted family members
• Face problems squarely and transparently, so that all workers understand when something went wrong and how that was corrected.
• Model the behaviors – honesty, openness to ideas, enthusiasm, competence--that you would expect from them.
• Listen to what employees have to say; be open to discussions of problems and solutions; receive feedback and suggestions; follow through
• Give the employees some autonomy to improve their work procedures and environment
• Maintain a dynamic, changing environment that involves employees in the planning and direction of the organization
Organizations that have instituted an atmosphere of trust and respect, have unleashed the growth energies of employees, and have focused these energies toward their missions, are dynamic and exciting places to work.