respect word write on paperDo your company’s employees feel respected? Studies show many American workers in a variety of industries nationwide don’t feel that way. The ‘R’ word — and a lack of it — continues to be one of the top sources of worker discontent.

And that’s a real problem, because research also shows that employees who feel that they are respected by their company’s leadership are much more likely to be engaged, productive and loyal. One study shows that people who feel they are respected by their organization’s leaders are more innovative and deliver a much higher level of customer service than workers who don’t feel they are getting enough respect.

On the flip side, Georgetown University professor Christine Porath found in her research that a lack of respect prompted many workers to intentionally decrease their work effort and/or produce lower quality work.

How do you create a culture of respect within your team and individual employees? One way is to become a better listener. Make sure your employees know they can be open with you and that you’re happy to make time one-on-one for them to voice their concerns.

Better yet, schedule time weekly, biweekly or monthly to meet with each team member. Try not to cancel or reschedule when you get busy. Actively solicit opinions and feedback. And when an employee provides you with feedback, try to follow up with that employee with any findings or actions taken as a result of the feedback that was provided. Showing people that their input and ideas are valued is an important step in building respect.

Express appreciation individually. It’s important for employees to know they are respected and appreciated. It’s helpful to let employees know how their efforts tie in to the company’s goals and growth.

Respect is a wonderful thing; if your employees feel you truly respect them, their respect for you will grow. And when respect is a two-way street, organizations can accomplish great things.