There are many ways for a business to increase competitiveness and productivity, and employee satisfaction should be near the top of the list. Creating a more inclusive workplace ensures that your workers feel valued and respected. In turn, they’ll be happier in their jobs, increasing productivity and improving retention.
An inclusive workplace shows employees they are valued and respected. It isn’t enough for a company to say it values its workers. It has to prove it. Here are some ways to do just that.
See Where You Are
There are a number of ways you can measure how inclusive your workplace is now, so you can determine where changes can be made and where they can do the most good.
Measure demographics. An inclusive workplace has a workforce whose demographics resemble the demographics of the community and/or client base. Note the demographics in your company, and determine where they do or don’t match up.
Conduct an anonymous attitudes survey to get a picture of how employees feel about the workplace atmosphere, about how they are treated, and about other employees or groups of employees. Exit interviews also provide valuable insights into what your company can do improve employee satisfaction and retention.
Review how your company separates employees. Examine the hierarchies that are in place to determine whether they are effective or should be restructured. Look at segregation of employees and the way they may be unnecessarily confined to certain areas or if groups of employees tend to keep themselves apart.
Take time to understand and anticipate employee needs, including potential sources of conflict between groups.
Make a Plan
Draft policies that ensure inclusivity at all levels, from hiring and recruitment to working conditions and workers’ rights. Develop specific policies to address harassment, bullying, hate speech, etc. Have clear and regularly-enforced policies for discipline, handling grievances, and family-related needs (like maternity/paternity leave, adoption leave, and breastfeeding).
Make sure to account for individual circumstances when enforcing certain policies, like whether pregnancy and disability are considered in determining and enforcing sick leave policies. Also consider religious and cultural differences among your employees so you don’t create unnecessary issues or tensions.
And if you’re committed to workplace inclusivity, consider expecting the same from your suppliers.
Turn Your Plan into Action
Train all employees to make sure everyone knows the new goals and policies as well as training in equality, diversity, and human rights. Make sure senior staff take these issues seriously so that policies can be enforced and the changes you want can really happen.
Offer mentoring for new and junior employees and development for employees at all levels.
Remove barriers to success that disproportionately affect certain employees.
Measure Your Success
See what’s changed utilizing the same techniques you employed at the beginning of the process. Re-check demographics, conduct surveys, and talk to staff to find out what’s working and what isn’t.
Repeat as needed until your workplace is somewhere employees are happy to be.