Positively Impacting Workplace Dignity

Workplace Dignity (WPD) is the kind of thing that is rarely noticed until it has been lost or infringed upon. Similar to the oxygen we breathe each day, WPD is something we simply assume we have—until we recognize that we don’t!

Consider, in that regard, WPD to be at the very heart of organizational challenges like “quiet quitting” or “The Great Resignation.” Arguably both are manifestations of a disgruntled workforce searching to find meaningful work, strong management, a positive workplace, growth opportunity and a top management team they can trust! These aspirations are by no means new, but employees today are more prone to leave the problems they know in search of improved circumstances than ever before.

At The Center for Leadership Studies, we believe the key to attracting and keeping talent in today’s workplace rests with leadership (at all levels of the organization) and their dedicated efforts to intentionally enhance WPD.

In this three-part series, we will:

  1. Describe and define the interrelated components of WPD.
  2. Present an irrefutable business case for building dignity into the fabric of your workplace.
  3. Identify the key drivers for developing WPD.

Simply stated, dignity is a state of mind. It is highly personal and influenced by a wide spectrum of factors. For our purposes, we will focus upon three: inherent dignity, earned dignity and remediated dignity.

Inherent dignity, also known as human dignity, is “the belief that all people are entitled to an equal and unconditional worth simply for being human.” The concept of inherent dignity lies in empathy and the acknowledgment of our similarities as well as our differences. The workplace is a melting pot of sorts for people who bring those differences into a setting where they are then focused on a unifying cause or series of objectives. In that pursuit, each contributor is entitled to be treated in a manner that exemplifies basic, normal, generally agreed upon standards of human decency.

Earned dignity can be thought of as “the recognition received from others” for efforts and advancements relative to the organization’s objectives. Earned dignity is merit-based. It provides gratitude and acknowledgement for contributions to the cause.

Remediated dignity is the “ability one has to recover when a mistake has been made.” Some cultures support this renewal while others do not. Clearly, the act under consideration is a key factor in determining whether recovery is possible but, generally speaking, remediated dignity is a term to describe an individual who makes a mistake, acknowledges the transgression and takes steps to restore any damage that has been done.

Moving forward, let’s lean on these three elements and define WPD as the self- and other-recognized worth acquired from (or injured by) engaging in work activity.”