It's incredibly important to convey respect when you're interacting with your employees. While that may seem obvious, unfortunately not nearly enough bosses do it. 

In a survey of more than 19,000 people by Harvard Business Review last year, 54 percent of respondents said they did not feel that they regularly got respect from their leaders. That lack of respect has huge consequences for employees, the survey found.

The survey respondents who felt they were treated with respect reported 56 percent better health and well-being, 89 percent greater enjoyment and satisfaction with their jobs, and 92 percent greater focus and prioritization. They also reported greater meaning and significance, and a higher level of trust and safety.

Offering respect impacts the company as a whole, too. Employees who felt respected by their leaders were more likely to stick with their company than those who didn't. Further, they were 55 percent more engaged, which translates into better, more efficient output. 

So the question remains, why do so few bosses treat their employees with adequate respect?

Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, asked a group of 125 employees why why they behaved in an uncivil manner at times. More than 60 percent said that they were too busy and didn't have time to be nice. Twenty-five percent pointed fingers, saying that other leaders in their organization act similarly. And four percent admitted that they're disrespectful on purpose because it's fun and they can get away with it.

According to Porath, the real reason leaders fail to act respectfully is a lack of self-awareness. "More often people just do not realize how they affect others," she writes in Harvard Business Review. "They may have good intentions, but they fail to see how they are perceived."

As a leader, you need to make your employees feel valued. Take Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell's Soup, for example, who sent more than 30,000 personalized notes to thank his employees and took every opportunity to connect with them. This had a positive impact on the employees, and in turn, on the company's performance, Porath writes.

Leaders need to promote a culture of respect by hiring civil employees, acting as a role model for those employees, and looking out for anyone who is failing to act with respect. "No other leader behavior had a bigger effect on employees across the outcomes we measured," Porath writes. "Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback--even opportunities for learning, growth, and development."

Published on: Nov 19, 2014