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How HR Can Encourage a Respectful Workplace

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 11, 2018



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There are many different ways to define Respect in the Workplace.  There are probably as many different definitions of a Respectful Workplace as there are personalities in your company.  Each employee will define Respect in the Workplace through their own cultural lens and work experiences.  To some, it means having empathy for others around you regardless of whether they are a subordinate, coworker or superior.  To others respect is a safe and open environment where all employees are supportive of each other.  Some feel respect is more authoritarian and reserved for people of power and influence in the organization. There were hundreds of responses when I googled “What is Respect in the Workplace?” The explanation I liked most was the one on Wikihow. It said…”At its heart, being respectful means showing that you value other people's perspectives, time and space.”  I like this response because it is just specific enough to encompass almost any workplace environment you could think of.  Whether it is a law firm, a theme park, government agency, hotel or hospital, this explanation of workplace respect makes sense and fits well.


As a mediator who has facilitated hundreds of employment mediations over the past twenty years, I can confidently say that a vast majority of workplace cases stem from someone feeling disrespected in the workplace.  This is not always the obvious stated reason but when you dig deep and uncover the underlying issues that led up to the conflict and mediation, they usually boil down to the employee feeling they were disrespected by a manager, co-worker, corporate policy or a combination of those. Often times the employee who files a discrimination claim or requests a workplace mediation will ask for large sums of money or to have the manager fired or moved to a different department.  Through the mediation process, it is often discovered that the employee just wants to feel respect in the workplace. 


The following is a very common workplace mediation scenario, with names changed of course.  David, an hourly employee working in the customer service department of a large organization claims he was discriminated against by his supervisor because of his Age.  David is a 45 year old male who has been with the company for 20 years.  He claims that his supervisor, Gabe, treats him different than the other employees who are younger and faster.  David claims that he knows how to do his job and does not need a young wiper snapper who just started working at the company to tell him what to do.  He is just not as fast as he was when he was younger. At the beginning of the mediation, David was visibly angry and insisted that his supervisor be fired due to his discriminatory practices.  Through the mediation process, David was able to express to Gabe how disrespected he feels when Gabe tries to micromanage him.  David is the most senior worker and feels that Gabe should respect his years and knowledge in the job.  Gabe was able to share that the company was pushing all supervisors to increase the productivity of their subordinates to prevent layoffs.  Through this process, David better understood the pressure his supervisor was under and recognized that everyone was being pushed, not just him.  After going back and forth with various ideas, they settled on an agreement.  Gabe and David signed the agreement and shook hands with a clear understanding of how the other man felt and how they could move forward and work together in a mutually respectful manner.


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I have been asked by many HR professional and company executives “Why it is so important to create a respectful workplace and how is the more respectful environment going to make my job easier?”  Another question I am asked a lot is “If most workplace disputes stem from disrespectful managers, co-workers or corporate policies, what can I do to promote a respectful workplace?”


Also, I am definitely not suggesting that HR professionals should be the sole creator and keeper of workplace respect.  Additionally, HR professionals often have to overcome the hurdle of convincing company leaders and executives of the importance of creating a respectful workplace environment.    Once those hurdles are tackled, HR professionals can focus on creating company policies that support a respectful workplace environment.  Hence the title of this article.


Establish an early intervention conflict resolution policy that supports the type of environment you are trying to create.  Offer employees a way to voice their concerns and opinions.  When an employee feels disrespected, they should be able to express that and work towards an acceptable resolution without feeling the possibility of retaliation.  An early intervention conflict resolution policy should include two options for employees to pursue.  First option might be an anonymous type of survey or comment box.  Many companies offer surveys but often ask the wrong questions, ask leading questions or they do not offer the security of a confidential process.  Any of these mistakes can easily diminish the survey results.  An effective survey or comment box should ask the employees what their main concerns are and what their suggestions are to improve any issues or concerns.


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Second options should include a facilitated meeting with an HR professional or Professional Mediator.  Early intervention mediation can help to empower employees to speak up without the fear of retribution.  Mediation offers employees a forum to be heard on a level playing field. When early intervention becomes part of the culture where employees feel they have a safe avenue to be heard, they are less likely to file a discrimination lawsuit, quit or create unnecessary conflict in the workplace.  These two options are a great way to reduce costs in the organization and create a respectful work environment.


Respect should be a focal point in new hire and continuing training for employees at all levels.  Whether an employee is part time, hourly, middle management or a top executive in the company, the culture needs to reflect the importance of a respectful environment. A conflict resolution class should be integral to any organizations employee training program with a separate class designed specifically for managers and executives. Conflict resolution skills are rarely taught in school and often only briefly touched on in the workplace but these skills can make the difference between low or high employee turnover rates, expensive lawsuits, high or low productivity and non-violence or violence in the workplace.   


As HR professionals, it is important to actively work on the skills to put yourself in someone else's shoes as well as assist managers to better understand employee issues and concerns.  When HR staff and management are able to be empathetic and show employees that they are a resource for them when they have concerns or problems, the culture can begin to shift to a more open and respectful environment.


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Of course, the recommendations above will only be successful in creating a respectful workplace after upper management buys into this shift 100% and employees feel the company culture has shifted.  Policies and training are only effective when employees feel the policies and training are sincere and not a just a band aid.  Depending on how far or close your organization is from having a truly respectful workplace will have a huge impact on how much effort an HR professional will have to put into this effort.  Regardless, there is no doubt that your sincere efforts will be noticed and effective over time. 








Written by Sheryle S. Woodruff, MS, Owner of Conflict Management Associates, Inc.  407-417-7791. Sheryle holds a Master's degree in Conflict Studies and Analysis.  She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator and has been a full time trainer, conflict coach, consultant and mediator since 1997.  She specializes in preventing and resolving workplace conflicts.  





"All data and information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or HR advice (which should be obtained through formal retention of a lawyer or HR professional, respectively).  Nothing contained in this blog reflects the opinions of GOSHRM or any of its directors or members. GOSHRM makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis."

Tags:  blog  conflict resolution  HR  mediation  respect  SHRM  workplace 

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#AskAmanda: How to Make the Best of Your State Conference Experience

Posted By Amanda Brunson, Wednesday, September 5, 2018


I recently attended the 2018 HR Florida State Conference. Since this was my fourth year in attendance, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, a couple of my peers were attending for the first time. After offering suggestions to the first-timers, I thought to myself: I bet there are a ton of people out there that wish they knew how to make the best out of their own state conference experience, so I want to offer the following generalized tips in hopes that your conference experience is one you won’t forget.


Click here to continue. 




Written by Amanda Brunson. Originally posted on the SHRM Blog. 



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Tags:  Conference  Networking  SHRM  SHRM Conferences  SHRMYP  State Conferences 

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Culture Isn’t Just HR’s Job

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 20, 2018


Culture Isn’t Just HR’s Job

Think of your culture if everyone recognized one person daily


Written by: Lori McKnight, GOSHRM Blogger




I jumped at the chance to write a blog post for the BlogSquad on HR trends that improve retention and results. I strongly believe recognition, while maybe not a trend, is the silver bullet needed to keep employees longer and performing to their potential.


I’ve written many posts supporting this statement and have seen firsthand how “small acts of recognition when multiplied by many can transform a culture”. Isn’t that the best line? I’m not sure where I saw it, but I believe it and it’s now my motto!


This line really speaks to me because it implies that culture cannot be built by HR. It takes many people in an organization buying in to your company’s direction and values to impact culture. Top-down only won’t work. HR-driven efforts alone won’t work. Employees don’t choose to engage. They have to be inspired and the best way to inspire someone is by recognizing their contributions and making them feel valued.    



What if everyone in your organization recognized one person daily?

Hand-written cards are amazing. I love getting them and save them forever. However, they aren’t the most scalable option for everyday thank you's. Also, according to a recent study in Psychological Science the main reason people don’t send thank you notes is because they lack confidence in their writing skills/penmanship.  


Enter HRTech. Today’s #HRTech tools facilitate recognition by enabling and encouraging more positive interactions. Social recognition tools like peer-to-peer thanks, recognition walls and nominations make it super easy for people to give others a clap and pat on the back as:

·        everyone can give thanks, on any device in real-time

·        everyone in the company can see who has done a great job

·        others can like, share and congratulate peers on a job well done


Since 70% of recognition should be informal, these non-monetary thank yous from peers, managers and senior executives have a multiplier effect  that can transform your culture, take the monkey off HR’s back and elevate HR’s role amongst senior management. 


Engaging employees using the medium the majority of your workforce use daily (hourly) is inclusive allowing Steady Eddie employees in departments where it’s harder to shine to receive well deserved recognition too.


When words just aren’t enough

Today’s HR platforms also have reward and incentive features. 


·        Employees can collect discretionary reward points for great work that can be redeemed for popular gifts, saved for a bigger ticket items, donated to a special cause, given to their child’s sports team or even converted into time off


·        Peers can nominate others for company-specific awards or send eCertificates when they see colleagues going over and above doing the things that reflect the company’s core values


HR recognition tools are an effective way to amplify your efforts and boost participation.


Just think if everyone in the organization added recognition to their daily routine every day. It would have a significant and positive impact on culture. And a stronger culture makes our job as HR professionals a lot more pleasant, leading to a positive return on investment due to higher productivity and better retention – all KPIs that boost the bottom line.



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Tags:  Culture  HR 

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Do You Want to Join the GOSHRM Blog Squad?

Posted By Amanda Brunson, Thursday, August 2, 2018



Do you want to be a part of the GOSHRM Blog Squad? We are happy to announce that we have officially released our GOSHRM Blog Guidelines and would like to extend an invitation to you to become part of the GOSHRM Blog Squad. If you would like to write & submit blogs for our website that are focused on trending HR matters, please download the GOSHRM Blog Guidelines below. 

We welcome each of you to review the guidelines and complete the acknowledgment and questionnaire on page 2. Once you have done so, please submit them to Per the guidelines, once you are approved you will receive an official GOSHRM Blog Squad Certificate and will be allowed to submit up to 4 blogs each year. 


We hope that you are as excited as we are as we move forward with this great opportunity! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. 

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Tags:  Blogging  GOSHRM  HR  Writing 

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Breaking Into HR

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 25, 2018



It is common knowledge that some young HR professionals struggle at the beginning of their careers. We find that companies are looking for someone with experience and/or a certification to fill their positions. It can be very difficult to overcome this obstacle. Through my experience, successes, and research; I discovered four key steps to help young professionals break into HR.


Click here to continue. 




Written by Amanda Brunson. Originally posted on the SHRM Blog. 


Tags:  BreaktHRough  SHRM  SHRMStudent  SHRMYP 

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Resume Myths, Truths, & Tips for Young HR Pros

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 31, 2018


Like everything else in our ever-evolving world, the process of selling yourself through your resume is always changing. As young HR pros, we get so much advice on the “right way” to write our resume that it can sometimes be overwhelming. The whole goal of writing your resume is to find that perfect first job that we spent so much time in college studying for. The last thing you want to do is get missed in the shuffle.

Here are three situations to be cautious of as you begin your career. Click here to continue.



Written by Amanda Brunson. Originally posted on the SHRM Blog. 

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Tags:  Resumes  SHRM  SHRMStudent  SHRMYP 

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Take Your Seat at The Table

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Take Your Seat at The Table

As Human Resources (HR) professionals, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘seat at the table’; this notion that we must manage our careers in such a way to be included in senior-level business decisions in order to be considered successful. Many of us are over it.

Amy Lein, who is the Director of Human Resources at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and currently serving a two-year term as President of the Greater Orlando Society for Human Resource Management (GOSHRM), is taking a much more meaningful approach to the phrase.

Encouraged by her faith, and her collaborative effort through The Gotham Fellowship, an intensive training program offered by The Collaborative Orlando, Lein is working to blend her personal beliefs with her professional life. “Using the parable of people being invited to a banquet table – a lesson about choosing where to sit, serves as a great analogy for HR’s desire to gain a seat at the table in the business world,” said Lein.


Interested in reading more? Click here.



Written by Amy Lein. Originally posted on the HR Mouth of the South Blog, the official blog of the HR Florida State Council, Inc. 

Tags:  GOSHRM  HR  Leadership  SHRM 

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Block Harassment in Its Tracks

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 3, 2018


Our very own President Elect, Nate Shannon, had an opportunity to contribute to "The Financial Manager." Check out his article titled "Block Harassment in Its Track" here: Congrats, Nate! #Harassment #ORLHR #HR #Orlando

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Got 60?

Posted By Leslie Mizerak, Friday, October 20, 2017

As a SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) or SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) you already recognize the relevance and importance of SHRM certification. Earning your certification is the first step toward a rewarding career and a commitment to advancing the future of HR. Recertification is how you will continue to grow and adapt to meet the evolving needs of the profession. 


If you obtained your SHRM credential in 2015, your recertification date is in 2018, but if you get 60 PDCs this year, you are eligible to apply for recertification now—you don't have to wait until 2018 to do so. SHRM will provide $20 to a chapter and $10 to a state council for each credentialed member who recertifies within the 2017 calendar year.  We are encouraging our SHRM-certified members to "just do it". 


Early recertification helps you as a credential-holder, too. If you apply in 2017, your next recertification date will still be 2021. If any of the activities you submitted in your application turn out not to be eligible activities, you will have all of 2018 to resubmit and reach the required 60 PDCs. 


You can login and enter your recertification credits at


Again the program is designed to promote early recertification, before the end of the year, in exchange for a financial stipend to support your local chapter, GOSHRM and our State Council HR Florida.  GOT 60?  Why not take care of your recertification today?

Tags:  GOSHRM  Recertification  SHRM  SHRM-CP  SHRM-SCP 

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Effectively Managing Employee Conflicts

Posted By Leslie Mizerak, Friday, October 20, 2017

I have heard many ways that companies attempt to manage employee conflicts.  They range from yelling at the employees to firing them to ignoring the situations.  These issues don’t go away just because the manager tells the parties in conflict to “stop”.   This only serves to create underground conflicts that decrease productivity or increase turnover.  A perfect example of this is when I was hired to assist an organization with a dispute between two executive secretaries.  I will change parties names and keep the company name confidential.  


Ethel was a long time company employee and was the executive secretary for the company VP, Hank.   Marie was the executive secretary for the new CEO, Gary.  Although Marie and Gary were new to this company, they worked together for many years.  When I received the call from Hank, the VP, I was told that Marie and Ethel could not get along and he needed me to get them to play nice.  He went on to explain that he had already sat down with both ladies separately and told them they needed to stop acting like teenage girls and put on their big girl panties or they would be fired.  As crazy as it sounds, this example is very common.  What’s wrong with this approach? This is a classic example of a Band-Aid approach.  When I asked Hank how that worked, he said things were quiet for a while and then the S--T hit the fan!  


That was an example of what not to do.  What should you do?  First step is to stay as neutral and judgement free as possible.  Then assess the conflict by meeting privately with the parties involved.  In the example above, meet with Ethel and Marie and let each of them know that you are meeting with the other person privately and then will make a recommendation about how to proceed.  This way employees feeling singled out can be avoided.  


Once you meet with the parties privately, you should create a suggested plan of action.  Not a plan for how the parties should resolve the conflict, just the process or tools you are suggesting.    It’s important to reassure the employees involved that you are on the case and their issues are important.  Definitely do not demean them by using language like Hank used.  You may suggest that one or more parties work with a senior employee as a mentor or you may suggest hiring a conflict coach.  Another possible suggestion is training for the parties to address lack of skills in a specific area.  Ideally the underlying conflict should be addressed and resolved first before offering training or coaching.  It is highly unlikely that Marie and Ethel will benefit from coaching and training if they do not resolve the underlying conflict first. 


I often get asked “When should I hire an external mediator?”  Here is a list when a company should consider hiring a professional mediator.  When…

  • an employee has retained legal counsel
  • an employee is threatening to file a lawsuit
  • the conflict has been stewing for a long time 
  • there is no one inside the company who’s comfortable and skilled in workplace conflicts
  • the dispute has created a toxic or hostile work environment
  • all internal tools have been exhausted
  • the conflict is too time consuming for internal employees
  • one or more parties involved in the conflict do not feel comfortable with the HR manager or person assigned to help.  This is usually due to real or perceived lack of neutrality. 


Perception of neutrality is a key issue when choosing someone inside the organization to help parties resolve their dispute.  If the person chosen to help is not viewed by both sides as impartial, there could be problems with a meaningful resolution.  Perception of confidentiality and neutrality is critical to the mediation process and a long term successful resolution.  Managing employee conflicts successfully will help your organization decrease turnover, lawsuits and improve employee morale.  


Sheryle S. Woodruff holds a Masters Degree in Conflict Studies and Analysis.  She co-founded Conflict Management Associates, Inc. in 1997 and is now located in Orlando, Florida.  Sheryle has been a mediator, conflict coach, trainer and consultant specializing in workplace conflicts.  She has worked with companies across the United States ranging from government to non-profit to small family owned businesses.  The names in this article have been changed in order to keep confidentiality.  Sheryle can be reached by email or phone 407-417-7791.  More information can be found at

Tags:  Conflict  Employee  HR  Leadership  Manage 

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