The One Word That Helps Us Find and Keep the Best Talent


Respect. Aretha Franklin asked for just a little bit. Rodney Dangerfield complained that he didn’t get it. No matter how much of it we can or can’t amass, arguably, everyone seems to want it. And companies should be eager to give it, since respect does wonders for attracting and retaining top talent.

So what can companies do to show respect to their employees?

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Find out what it means to me.” 

Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul  

We start with the basics at Firewood: respecting each other as human beings. With inclusivity as one of our core values, all employees are included in the idea that respect is a given—regardless of our origins, backgrounds, family structures, or other labels by which society describes (and sometimes divides) us. 

When you respect the basic humanity of the people who make up your organization, treating them as equals who belong and as partners who have something valuable to contribute to your environment, you may find yourself in the fortunate position of finding and keeping top talent. 

A simple “thank you” will suffice.

It really is just that simple. Whether you do it with two little words or a more in-depth recognition strategy, showing gratitude can make your talent feel respected and valued. And while many of us are working from home, we may take for granted how easy it used to be to give a quick shout-out when passing people in the office hallways. We need to be even more intentional about expressing our thanks in our virtual workplaces. 

When an employee excels on the job by making an impact on the business with their skills and expertise, or sets a positive example for others by living your company values every day, showing some appreciation is a respectful thing to do. It expresses that an employee’s contribution hasn’t gone unnoticed and that it matters to the business as a whole. It’s also an acknowledgement that out of all of the organizations they could have chosen to contribute to, they chose yours. 

“I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.” 

Ernest Hemingway

At Firewood, we talk to our people a lot. But more importantly, we listen. We believe that promoting a culture of communication and feedback is a way to treat our employees like the partners they are. 

In addition to sharing pertinent information about the business, we regularly ask our employees their opinions on how we’re doing, what we’re doing well, and how we can seize the opportunity to do better. We’re in this together, and we value the opinions and insights our employees have to share. Keeping them informed about the things they need to know to do their jobs better and feel confident in the business we’re building together shows that we respect the role they each play at Firewood. 

“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.”  

Katie Thurmes, Artifact Uprising Cofounder

The people who make up a company’s population are unique individuals with full lives outside of the office— yes, even during a pandemic when we’re all spending more time at home. They are caretakers and creators, adventurers and athletes, partners and philanthropists. They also have concerns and challenges with whole worlds that exist outside of the confines of their day-to-day work responsibilities. When you acknowledge that your employees have elements of themselves outside of their jobs—elements that need nurturing—and support their efforts to do so, you respect the fullness of who they are. 

One (final) word.

Respect your employees and they’ll feel it. And the more they feel it, the better the chance they’ll be inspired to bring their best selves to your company instead of someone else’s. Or as the Queen of Soul may have put it, if you don’t give respect, “…you might walk in, and find out I’m gone.”

About Kamron Hack

As Director of People and Culture, Kamron Hack is committed to fostering a meaningful experience for her Firewood coworkers that encompasses employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, and a culture of feedback. Before joining Firewood, Kamron spent seven years at a San Francisco tech startup, where she was in various people-centric roles including human resources, employee communication, and culture.