How are employees treated every day in your work environment? Are they treated with trust and respect? Are they validated for their efforts and their accomplishments?

If yours is like most workplaces, the answer is no. Employee engagement around the globe has been static – at about 35 percent – for over two decades. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels occurs in only 38 percent of global workplaces.

The employee experience – the creation of a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the individuals who choose to work at that organization – has a powerful impact on employee perceptions of your leaders and your company. Eighty percent of executives realize how important the employee experience is, but only 22 percent believe their organization provides a validating, respectful environment.

Digitization increases transparency across organizations. Younger generations read and post opinions daily about their companies’ systems, practices, benefits, flexibility and more. Millennials and members of Generation Z want a purposeful, positive, productive work experience – and leaders and team members of every generation deserve that kind of experience.

A workplace where everyone treats others with trust and respect and everyone is treated with trust and respect – in every interaction – won’t happen by default. It only happens by design.

Design a Purposeful, Positive, Productive Employee Experience.

First, senior leaders must make values – how people treat each other – as important as results.

That means that values must be as tangible and as measurable as results. You don’t assume that everyone knows what his or her performance expectations are; you have a structured system to formalize and track progress on expected results. You can’t assume that everyone knows how to treat others respectfully, either.

Senior leaders must define exactly how a great company citizen behaves. Instead of announcing lofty values like “integrity,” specify what behaviors are required to model integrity in your workplace. Don’t leave it to people to guess; tell them exactly what integrity requires.

One client defined their integrity value with these observable, measurable behaviors: “I am honest,” “I do what I say I will do,” and “I work to resolve problems and differences by directly communicating with the people involved.”

Their service value requires these measurable behaviors: “I engage everyone in a friendly, respectful manner,” “I help others meet their commitments to our customers” and “I act with urgency to resolve customer challenges.”

They did the same for their other four values: fun (yes, fun is one of their values!), respect, safety and teamwork. As you can see from these formalized behaviors, there is no question in anyone’s mind how people are expected to treat each other daily.

Align Plans, Decisions and Actions to Your Valued Behaviors.

After defining and publishing your values and valued behaviors, you’re not finished. In fact, now is where the hard work begins: aligning all plans, decisions and actions to your valued behaviors. Leaders must model and coach these valued behaviors daily, praise aligned behavior, and redirect misaligned behavior.

It is likely that leaders and team members will need skill-building in respectful interactions. Training can include models, practice and recording interactions (people won’t believe how much their tone and facial expressions communicate respect or the lack of it).

By completing training and by understanding your organization’s valued behaviors, will people demonstrate trust and respect with others? Many will. Some won’t. Coach people so they understand the minimum requirements of respectful interactions. Praise aligned behaviors, and redirect misaligned behaviors.

You can’t tolerate anyone demeaning others, dismissing others or discounting others. Those behaviors – especially from leaders – will erode your positive, productive employee experience deeply.

“Nice” and respectful treatment will only occur if you specify it, model it, train it, coach it and reward it. Your employees will love your company for it.

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