Dignity and respect at work, drawn on a blackboard

Dignity and Respect at Work Policy

Last updated: October 2019


At Watershed we aim to promote a culture of dignity and respect where all employees, customers, clients and other external parties are treated fairly and with respect. We are therefore committed to ensuring that everyone works in and/or enjoys Watershed facilities in an environment that is free from any form of unacceptable behaviour including discrimination, harassment and bullying.

In line with our commitment to promoting inclusion, the senior management team will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour towards others on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender or sexual orientation.


The aim of this policy is to ensure, as far as possible, unacceptable behaviour including discrimination, bullying and harassment do not occur within the organisation, and to:

  • ensure that all employees are aware of and understand their responsibilities to behave in a respectful and considerate manner towards colleagues, members of the public and external parties;
  • promote awareness of the types of behaviour which, whether intended or not, can cause offence or injury to others, and seek to ensure that all employees understand that such behaviour will not be tolerated and may lead to disciplinary action;
  • promote and encourage positive behaviour towards others;
  • promote a culture where employees can raise concerns without fear of victimisation or recrimination, but in the knowledge that complaints shown to be malicious or vexatious will lead to disciplinary action;
  • provide an effective framework for resolving concerns raised by employees, in which concerns are taken seriously and are dealt with promptly and confidentially.

Unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour – a definition

Unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour is difficult to define but it always consists of unwanted and unwarranted behaviour and is often referred to as harassment and bullying.

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation & Arbitration Service) provides a definition of harassment and bullying as ‘something that to the complainant is unwelcome, unwarranted and causes a detrimental effect’.

Such behaviour can range from relatively minor abuse to actual physical violence. This is a very broad definition, however, and each individual has their own perception of what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour; what one individual finds acceptable, another may not.

The key is that the actions or comments are viewed by the recipient as demeaning, threatening or offensive.


Employees' responsibilities

Every individual has a responsibility to help ensure a working environment in which the dignity of others is respected. In particular, employees:

  • must comply with this policy and ensure that behaviour towards others does not cause offence;
  • must treat all colleagues, customers, clients and other external parties with respect and dignity at all times, and contribute positively towards harmonious and effective working relationships;
  • must not intimidate, discriminate, threaten or bully others, or otherwise behave in a manner inconsistent with the dignified treatment of others;
  • must not victimise any individuals who have raised concerns or who have provided information about harassment, bullying or discrimination at work;
  • should draw to the attention of their manager or the HR Manager any incidents of harassment, bullying or discrimination they have witnessed or strongly suspect is taking place, providing evidence where possible;
  • must bring to their manager’s attention any incidents of harassment or other inappropriate behaviour toward them by customers, clients, suppliers or other external parties.

Contact with customers, clients, suppliers and other external parties

Employees who come into contact with customers, clients, suppliers and other external parties have the responsibility for ensuring that their conduct fully respects the dignity of the customer and in particular those who are especially vulnerable. Employees are expected to deal in an efficient and friendly manner with all customers and must ensure that they do not do or say anything which could give cause for complaint amounting to harassment.

In the event of individuals having concerns about an incident which may give rise to a complaint of harassment, they should immediately contact their manager.

Managers’ responsibilities

In addition to their general responsibilities as employees, those in managerial and supervisory positions have a responsibility, so far as is practicable, for:

  • making themselves familiar with this policy and associated procedures;
  • explaining the policy to employees and taking steps to positively promote it;
  • setting a good example by treating all individuals with dignity and respect;
  • being alert to and challenging unacceptable behaviour;
  • conducting management activities in a dignified manner.

Employer’s responsibilities

Watershed has a corporate responsibility to take active steps to minimise the level of inappropriate behaviour in the work place and to promote the well-being of its staff.

As part of its duty to ensure the physical and mental health, safety and welfare of individuals at work, Watershed is continually assessing the causes of stress at work (including possible occurrences of harassment/bullying) and seeking to introduce measures to reduce or prevent stress.

Concerns raised by employees will be monitored and data published as appropriate. Confidentiality will be maintained at all times.

Positive behaviour


Watershed promotes positive behaviour towards others and everyone can demonstrate respect with simple, yet powerful actions. Such examples include:

  • Treating people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness;
  • Encouraging colleagues to express opinions and ideas;
  • Listening to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, butt in, or cut off another person;
  • Using people’s ideas to change or improve work and letting them know you used their idea, or, better still, encourage the person with the idea to implement the idea;
  • Never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas;
  • Do not nit-pick, constantly criticize over little things, belittle, judge, demean or patronize. A series of seemingly trivial actions, added up over time, may constitute bullying;
  • Treating people the same no matter their race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin. Treating people differently may constitute harassment or a hostile work environment;
  • Including all colleagues in meetings, discussions, training, and events. While not every person can participate in every activity, do not marginalize, exclude or leave any one person out.
  • Provide an equal opportunity for individuals to participate in committees, task forces, or continuous improvement teams. Solicit volunteers and try to involve every volunteer;
  • Praising much more frequently than you criticize. Encourage praise and recognition from employee to employee as well as from the supervisor;
  • Saying ‘thank you’. Always thank people when they have done something for you, even if it is part of their job.

There are many other ways to demonstrate respect at work but implemented consistently at work, these respectful actions help ensure a respectful, considerate, professional work place.

Managers and supervisors

In addition to the above, managers and supervisors can demonstrate positive behaviours through the effective leadership and management of their staff. Such positive management behaviour can include:

  • consistency and fairness;
  • a determination to achieve the best results, but being reasonable and flexible;
  • being clear about your own ideas, but willing to consult with colleagues before drawing up proposals;
  • insisting upon high standards of service in quality of and behaviour within the team;
  • discussing in private any perceived deterioration before forming any views or taking action, and does not apportion blame on others when things go wrong;
  • asking for people's views, listening and giving feedback;
  • consistently demonstrating sensitivity to the behaviour of others and adapting own behaviour to get the optimum work outputs;
  • consistently demonstrating positive behaviour irrespective of where work takes place and regardless of numbers of staff present.

About this policy

Prepared by Kirsty Young, Human Resources Manager.

For any feedback or comments please email kirsty.y@watershed.co.uk