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Show some respect

The word respect is used a lot. In politics, on the street – and in many organisations, too. In many cases, it’s demanded, even though respect is not something you can command. Instead, it is something you must show. And this increasingly goes for companies, too, which is why it is time to build respect into your employee journey.

Respect is a clincher in a multi-job world
The sad reality is that many employees feel they are not always treated with respect – and yet this is exactly where you can make a difference as an organisation. It’s not even rocket science; you just have to do it. It’s as easy as treating your employees the same way you want to be treated yourself. And there is a good business case for doing so as well: respect at work is crucial in an era when people have multiple jobs and multiple employers, and when they expect to control their careers themselves. All of this makes it even more necessary for employers to create strong and respectful employee journeys. Companies need to show respect to their current, new and departing employees; they need to place respect at the heart of their employee journey.

The start: know yourself and the other
The ideal employee journey starts with a candidate who consciously and wholeheartedly chooses your organisation because it reflects and represents their ideals, goals and values. An employer that shows its employees respect, learns about its various target audiences, speaks their language and knows how to reach them. In this way, an employer can attract employees who are a true fit with their company. This saves everyone a lot of time during the introductory period, and prevents discrepancies arising between the image the employee formed during the application process, and what the company is like in reality.

On our way: creating engagement
Once the employee is on board, they need to be constantly reassured that they made the right decision. To do this, you need to expand and prove the company story throughout the individual’s employee journey. The company culture should be engaging and stimulate performance. Company leaders must give the right example. Employees should be able to develop themselves continuously, feel they can make a contribution – and do so. This puts employer and employee in the right position to help each other best.

Similarly, helping employees develop also requires respect. It calls for empathy and dialogue to make sure your employees can be the best version of themselves. And respect calls for honesty. If an employee is no longer doing work that is necessary, isn’t in the right place and has stopped developing, it’s time for an honest discussion. People have a right to that. It’s another example of respect: being honest before it’s too late.

Offboarding: not a final destination
Nor does respect end when someone leaves your organisation. Or it shouldn’t. A respectful farewell that gives the employee the opportunity to also offer feedback can deliver benefits all round, including turning your now ex-employee into an ambassador for your organisation.

Unfortunately, few organisations place showing respect at the heart of their employee journey. For those that do, it’s my turn to say it: respect!

Bea Aarnoutse is managing partner of PROOF | internal & employer branding.

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