“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me … All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson

You may not realize it, but this quote could be the very thing that your employees are trying to tell you. If you were to reflect on it, how would you rate yourself on respecting employees? What do you think your employees would say about you on this subject?

From C-suite executives to front-line workers, respect is key to creating an engaged and productive workforce.

According to a survey of more than 19,000 people conducted by Harvard Business Review, more than 54 percent of employees don’t regularly get respect from their leaders.

As a leader, this isn’t something to take lightly. If your employees don’t feel respected, you put yourself at risk of developing an unhealthy, unhappy, and unproductive workforce.


The way you treat your employees can dramatically affect their health. Micromanagement, criticism that isn’t constructive, and disrespect can stress your workers out.

According to the American Psychological Association, work is the second most common cause of stress in America. For employers, high levels of stress means more sick days, more presenteeism, and less productive workers overall.

The good news, however, is that the HBR survey cited above found that those who feel respected at work have 56 percent better health and well-being than those who do not. It’s in your power as a leader to help your employees stay healthy.


The HBR study also found that respected employees were 89 percent more satisfied with their jobs and 1.1 times more likely to stay with their organizations than those who didn’t. If you want your employees to stick around, respect is definitely important.

ValleyThat said, respect doesn’t mean the same thing to every employee, so it’s a good idea to learn who your employees are and what kind of respect they individually crave.


Unhappiness has a price tag: By some estimates, it costs the U.S. economy $300 billion a year in lost productivity.

Turning once again to the HBR survey, we see that respected employees have 92 percent greater levels of focus and prioritization at work and are 55 percent more engaged at work. In other words: Respected employees make you more money.

What You Can Do to Help Your Employees Feel Respected

Okay, so now what? How do you make sure your employees feel respected at work?

The first thing you can do is have your employees take the right assessments. Impactful assessments can give you a glimpse into how your employees function at work and in life. They can give you an idea of how respected your employees feel – and what they need from you in order to feel more respected.

You can start also start building a culture of respect by sending an email to all your employees thanking them for all their hard work. Then, you can work up to more specific forms of recognition and respect as you learn what each individual employee needs from you.

Remember to communicate, be patient, and really listen to your employees. Soon, you will see your employees grow happier, healthier, and more productive.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Vitru blog.

Ryan Mead is the CEO and founder of Vitru.

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