Fair Work Framework 2016
The Fair Work Dimensions - Respect
Fair work is work in which people are respected and treated respectfully, whatever their role and status. Respect involves recognising others as dignified human beings and recognising their standing and personal worth. Respect at work is a two-way process between employers and workers and is valued for recognising the reciprocity of the employment relationship.
At its most basic, respect involves ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of others. Mutual respect is an important aspect of everyday social exchange and is a crucial element of relationships in the workplace where a significant proportion of life is spent. Crucially, mutual respect involves recognising the views, autonomy, status and contribution of others.
Many discussions of respect and the related concept of dignity at work focus narrowly on issues relating to bullying and harassment. Respect as a dimension of fair work includes and goes beyond this to include dignified treatment, social support and the development of trusting relationships. It means being open, mutually accountable, transparent and responsive to the concerns
Respect as a dimension of fair work can be supported in a wide variety of ways: through established procedural and collective bargaining arrangements with unions; through health, safety and wellbeing policies and practices; through organisational policies and practices on dignity at work; adoption and genuine engagement with respect as a key organisational value; communication; training; managerial and supervisory approaches; and approaches to conflict resolution. A sense of fulfilment at work impacts positively on individual health and happiness, contributes to organisational health, and in doing so, benefits the economy and society as a whole.
What people told us
It was widely accepted that everyone is entitled to be treated with respect, that everyone needs to feel valued and that value is not simply a reflection of pay or status. In our conversations, many people identified disconnect between formal policies on respect and their own experience. We heard evidence of abuses of power that were inconsistent with respectful work
and we were given examples of how, for example, young workers organised collectively with their union to challenge disrespectful practices and behaviours. Open communications can address this disconnect by conveying clear reciprocal expectations of how people should treat and be treated. Respect issues were not, however, simply interpersonal; many arose from excessive work pressures and demands.
How to improve respect at work
- Respecting others is everybody's business. A culture of respect requires that behaviours, attitudes, policies and practices that support health, safety and wellbeing are consistently understood and applied.
- Be explicit about respect as an organisational value and a guide to practice, and start a dialogue around respect as it is experienced in your own organisation.
- Agree clear expectations of behaviour, conduct and treatment and encourage the involvement of everyone to improve respectful behaviours.
- Respect for workers' personal and family lives requires access to practices that allow the balancing of work and family life.
- Re-framing conflict can enhance respect in an organisation - think about differing views as potentially productive and creative. Ensure that interpersonal relationships and internal procedures exist to manage conflict in a constructive way.
- Union expertise and networks on health and safety, for example, are a valuable resource, the use of which should be developed, supported and maximised.
FAIR WORK IS WORK IN WHICH PEOPLE ARE RESPECTED AND TREATED RESPECTFULLY, WHATEVER THEIR ROLE AND STATUS. RESPECT AT WORK IS A TWO-WAY PROCESS BETWEEN EMPLOYERS
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