There are countless articles and research studies available about employee engagement. It seems like a new recommendation comes out all of the time. With all of this information, where is a company supposed to even begin? A recent article in Forbes simplifies the key to employee engagement down to one word; respect.

Respect is something that is vital to a healthy work culture that fosters engaged, happy and productive employees. Why is respect so important?

It makes employees feel like a part of the team: One of the keys to employee engagement is that employees want to feel like they are part of the group. That the work they do contributes to the greater good done by the organization. They want to feel appreciated and know that their work is seen as valuable.

Employees who feel respected will go the extra mile: Employees are much more willing to go above and beyond and put forth their best effort if they know they will be rewarded. The intrinsic reward of we feeling respected and appreciated is powerful.

Employees who feel respected feel more connected to the organization: Respect is key to employee retention. Employees will stick with you through the tough times if they feel connected to the company.

There are some easy ways that leaders in an organization can demonstrate to employees that they are respected.

Show appreciation for hard work: Take the opportunity, whenever possible, to thank your employees for the work they do. Recognition can take many forms, but what is most important is that it is frequent and genuine. Check out our Employee Recognition Toolkit.

Allow employees some autonomy: Set appropriate expectations and deadlines for your employees and then step back and allow them to do their job. Micromanaging exactly how an employee completes a project from start to finish is exhausting and time-consuming. It also demonstrates you have little respect for the work the employee does. You may even find that the employee’s way of doing things is better than how you would have done it on your own.

Give employees some flexibility: Having some flexible work options for employees is a great way to show them some respect. This can take many forms. It could be as simple an being accommodating with time off. Or perhaps there is an employee who would work better if they could come in at 9:00 am and stay until 6:00 pm instead of the normal 8-5 schedule. Consider what might work best for your company and your employees and then start a conversation about it.

Avoid unnecessary rules and policies: If you have a 100-page employee policy guide, you are demonstrating to your employees that you don’t trust or respect them. Take the time to consider if you are communicating and enforcing rules that are unnecessary. What would you lighten up on a little? Check out our blog about Cyber Monday online shopping for an idea of what we mean. Of course we always recommend that you have some basic things covered to reduce your liability. If you need help working through this, your team of HR experts would be happy to help.

The most important thing to remember is that respect is a two-way street. In order to garner the respect of your employees, you need to show them respect as well.