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How Treating Employees With Dignity Impacts Your Business

“Neuroscience research shows that when people’s dignity is violated, it actually shows up in the brain in the same area as a physical wound…this isn’t just some touchy-feely of how we’ve got to be nice to people,” stated Dr. Donna Hicks, author of Leading with Dignity.

We speak with our clients about values related to dignity and how this value impacts the success of their businesses. So how do you make sure that you and other leaders in your organization are treating your employees with dignity? Here’s a short list we’ve compiled from Dr. Hicks’ research:

1. Acceptance – People want to have their identity accepted no matter their race, their religion, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation. It starts with simply being kind, using employees' names, smiling and getting to know them. If this is an issue in your organization, address it with your leaders directly.

2. Recognition – Praise the behavior you want to see. Employees want and need recognition for a job well done or behavior that supports your values. Be specific and recognize them in a way that is comfortable for the individual.

3. A Sense of Belonging – Employees want to belong to a team and that starts with developing your people and that starts with building relationships. Make sure your team knows each other personally, what motivates them, what their strengths are and how to impact individuals’ weaknesses.

4. To Be Safe – While physical safety is critical, psychological safety is equally important. Ensure that your culture provides an opportunity for all employees to speak up – with new ideas, with bad ideas, with criticism of you and upper management without recourse. That openness starts with you!

5. To Be Understood – Have you ever been frustrated trying to get your point across when the person you’re trying to talk to won’t listen? As a leader, it’s critical that you ask good questions to really understand the issues facing your employees. And when you’re wrong, own it.


Ready to look into leadership training to tackle this issue? Email or call 303-809-8093.

Have 48 minutes? Listen to Dr. Hicks’ interview with Pete Mockaitis at How to Be Awesome at Your Job while you’re working out, walking the dog, or driving to work.

Want a perspective from someone in HR? Read this quick article from SHRM.

Want to know more about dignity and pain? Read Why It Hurts to Be Left Out

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