Employee Dignity - How to Keep It in the Workplace

When Steve Hannah, CEO of the Onion, was asked by New York Times journalist Adam Bryant, what were the his top 3-5 lessons on how to manage people he said": "you never, ever do anything to deprive a human being of their dignity in work, in life."

What does dignity get us?

When you look up the word dignity in the dictionary several phrases show up:

  • The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect
  • Inherent nobility and worth
  • Self-respect

Someone's dignity is their sense of self-worth.

So how do we make sure to maintain dignity in the workplace?

Hannah follows his statement with "Always praise in public and criticize in private. You might be tempted, for example, when you’re letting someone go, to say something that would diminish the value of their work. Don’t ever do that."

Here are a few more to add to the list:

  1. Make mean character attacking gossip an unacceptable practice in your company.
  2. Make sure the term "respect" isn't just part of a dead values statement. Have the conversation - what does respect look like in our company?
  3. Value each and every position in your company as a genuine career choice - especially those positions that socially receive less respect.
  4. Separate between someone's way of being versus who they actually are. When dealing with an issue, address behavior and actions. Do not attack the person.
  5. And for a mind check - a pause in the heat of the moment - remember no matter how tempted you are to tear someone down, this is a real deal person (as real as your closest family member), not just a cog in the wheel of the machine.

Culture Works

With Culture Works in your hands you’ll know exactly how, and what to do to manage your workplace culture.
No other workplace culture book empowers you to take on workplace challenges like the researched and proven 8 Critical Factors found in Culture Works.
Paper airplane for newsletter sign up

Get actionable insights in your inbox.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.