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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. www.cmafla.com  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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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 communications@goshrm.org. 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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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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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 sw@cmafla.com or phone 407-417-7791.  More information can be found at www.cmafla.com

Tags:  Conflict  Employee  HR  Leadership  Manage 

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When cancer and career collide: How business professionals reconcile myriad workplace issues

Posted By Leslie Mizerak, Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Updated: Monday, October 9, 2017

Special Thanks to GOSHRM Board members Kim Ouellette and Pat Muldowney for contributing to the attached  OBJ article!

 

When cancer and career collide: How business professionals reconcile myriad workplace issues

Orlando Business Journal

October 2017

 

Well written article.  OBJ, Thank you for reaching out to GOSHRM!

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  GOSHRM  HR 

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Stress in a Time of Urgency

Posted By Leslie Mizerak, Thursday, September 7, 2017

 

I am writing this blog post in the midst of hurricane prep in Orlando (Hurricane Irma).  As an executive coach, I have been checking in with my clients to support them with their strategies around communication, safety, and business response - before, during, and after the storm. 

 

The thing that has surprised me most as the storm nears is the need for support around stress levels. And it’s not as much about my clients’ stress, but instead how they can best support the people around them.

 

How does this matter to you HR professionals?  It matters a great deal because during times of urgency (like a storm, M&A, re-organization, etc…) stress levels elevate and you are often asked to support the needs of others.

 

There are a few things you can do to support others needs

  1.  Listen actively to understand what people are saying (helps you to answer the correct question)
  2.  Don’t do tasks for them, give them the tools to do it themselves 
  3. Instead of answering the question, ask them to answer it for themselves
  4.  Help them prioritize their requests or needs

 

What can you do to take care of yourself during times of high stress?

  1. “Teach others to Fish” (see 2&3 above)
  2. Say “No” when appropriate (prioritize for yourself)
  3. Take a few minutes now and again to breathe deeply, fully take in the air, let it fill your lungs and exhale slowly - do this a few times
  4. Walk or move around, don’t just sit at your computer; do some stretches
  5. Write things down that you want to remember; at times of high stress we tend to forget things
  6. Take care of yourself - if you don’t, you’ll never be able to do 1-4 above!

Be safe in the storm (be it a hurricane or just a busy season at work)

 

Leslie Mizerak

Communications Director – GOSHRM

Executive Coach - Mizerak Executive Coaching

communications@goshrm.org

 

Tags:  HR  Leadership  Listen  Storm 

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