Safe, respectable workplaces drive business success

A survey from Aptitude Research Partners found a formal pay-equity process translated to a 19 percent greater likelihood of exceeding industry-average productivity levels. Photo credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / DragonImages

Workplace respect has become familiar front-page news, with pay equity and anti-harassment emerging as two of the most pressing issues. Contributing to this trend is the growing rate of millennials, including leaders, who prioritize fairness and corporate social responsibility.

ROI of Respect

When fairness and equality are elemental to strategies and practices, they differentiate companies in a strong labor market. And reviewing current practices and refining them as needed, leaves them better situated to outpace their competition.

Recent research reveals that using a formal pay equity process translates to a 13 percent increase in employee engagement and a 19 percent greater likelihood of exceeding industry-average productivity levels, according to a survey from Aptitude Research Partners.

Policies and Processes

When companies are ready to shift their work environment toward stronger respect for employees, there are three key areas to consider:

Organizational assessment: Improvement begins with an introspective look at how well policies and the culture promote a respectful workplace. Besides offering insight on redefining internal goals and uncovering opportunities for resolving challenges, this exercise helps ensure compliance with complex and varied municipal, state and federal regulations.

Companies should also consider evaluating their workplace culture to get a sense of how the behaviors, values and attitudes of individuals affect those of the organization. Results can help them identify and weigh the merit of potential changes. And conducting and applying insights from a pay-equity study are known to increase engagement and retention. This analysis should include current pay by demographic group.

Employee and manager development: A work environment where incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation are rare or nonexistent requires employee and manager training. Through customized methods, companies can adopt and apply best practices that fit their unique challenges and goals.

Individual coaching increases workforce awareness, drives behavior change and informs day-to-day strategies for more productive interactions and relationships. And group training facilitates discussion among manager or employee teams, supporting professional development while aligning individual goals with team objectives.

Policies and processes to manage risk: Creating a respectful work environment should be very deliberate. Employers mitigate risk when they ensure fairness and compliance related to: anti-harassment policies, reporting procedures; pay structure and communication; performance management and ratings; promotion and pay increases; and other processes and policies.

Companies that proactively minimize workplace issues are well positioned to create a culture of respect. In this environment, employee trust, well-being, productivity and loyalty take hold, and the ultimate payoff is improved financial performance.

John Ergastolo, area EVP, Management Liability Practice; Chris Ratajczyk, managing director, Gallagher Research & Insights; Rebecca Starr, VP, HR & Compensation Consulting; and Liz Wright, managing director, HR & Compensation Consulting, at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.