Thank you to those of you who attended our Dignity at Work Masterclass on 10th September 2019. It was great to see so many of you and thank you for participating so enthusiastically in the discussion!
For those who couldn’t make it, we’ve summarised a few key points from the session to give you a flavour of what was covered.
Dignity at work is a very individual culture. What this culture looks like for one person, one business, may be very different to the next. Much of this depends on your workforce demographic, your industry and your environment.
Whilst dignity in the workplace can be supported by robust company policies, it is not what’s written down on paper than makes a workplace dignified or about enforcing processes rigidly in exactly the same way every time, just because the process dictates it. It’s about treating individual situations and employees, with respect and considering the individual circumstances of each case or person.
It’s the actual practice of what we do and how we behave that helps create an environment of fairness, equality and respect and ultimately leads to employees feeling valued and fairly treated.
These behaviours can be encouraged through ensuring things like equal pay for equal work, not tolerating bullying or harassment, engaging employees in constructive and supportive communication, allowing everyone a voice and respecting people’s individual views, beliefs and opinions, even if you don’t personally agree with them.
Whether you have policies that act as a framework for this or not, isn’t really the point. What matters is that employees have confidence that whether you are recruiting, managing performance, dealing with sickness or disciplinary issues, that they will always be treated fairly, and respectfully and be managed in a dignified manner; that they won’t feel they’ve been treated unfavourably because of a protected characteristic, or treated differently to someone else in the same situation.
This is important for ensuring employees wellbeing, their feeling of engagement, motivation and commitment. This can impact on productivity, attendance, job satisfaction, as well as the number of formal complaints and grievances you may have to manage.
This has significant implications for things like recruitment and retention and your reputation as an employer in the local community.
The cost attached to these issues can also be significant for organisations – with the highest ever Employment Tribunal award for unfair dismissal and discrimination, being a whopping £4.5 million!!
Whilst this was an unusually high award and a complex case, the average cost for an employer associated with just defending a claim at tribunal can be in the region of £15,000. This accounts for things like time and resources managing the process, preparing for a court hearing and the cost of legal advice. Conservatively, an average of 70 hours of a business’s time per tribunal case is spent managing this. In addition, if the claim is successful, the average award for discrimination claims sits in the region of £30,500 – OUCH! You can see the importance of getting it right from a financial point of view too!
Dignity at work can be a balancing act in ensuring your treatment of some individuals, doesn’t adversely impact others and that employees don’t feel unfavourably or unfairly treated.
Getting it right is crucial for a successful, motivated and respectful workplace environment – if ever in doubt, just put yourself in the other persons shoes and think, how would that make me feel? If you wouldn’t feel fairly treated, the chances are your employees won’t either…
If you need any advice or support dealing with any of these situations in the workplace, or want to understand any of this in more detail, just give us a call on