Employees are more productive and happy if they have a greater connection with their company, writes MICHELLE LOWNIE
Are you feeling inspired to push the boundaries at work and find solutions to the challenges you face? Are you even feeling motivated enough to turn up and give your best?
Having just negotiated Blue Monday, many of us are still working from home or dealing with the current lockdown conditions, making work incredibly challenging. Many employees feel under pressure, and don’t have the company beer fridge or table tennis table to reduce the stress.
However, it seems the reality is that all the flash perks of a modern office, or bonus structures of a large corporate, while welcome, aren’t what inspires people to go above and beyond. A point that seems even more relevant now with so many of us operating from our spare room.
Employees are seeking a far greater connection with their company. It has become increasingly important to employees that they feel as though they can bring their “whole selves” to work, working in an inclusive culture.
Diversity has become synonymous with inclusion. While there is undoubtedly a link between diversity and inclusion, solving one will not solve the other, and visa versa.
A simple Google search reveals that diversity is about the representation throughout an organisation, whereas inclusion indicates the culture that exists.
According to figures from LinkedIn, following the start of the Black Lives Matters protests last year, there was a 100% increase in adverts for Chief Diversity Officers. However, addressing generations of inequality only solves half the problem.
If a culture exists where only certain groups feel valued or respected, the benefit of a diverse workforce is undermined, leading to disaffected groups, high turnover rates and poor results.
Both issues must be taken seriously for people’s wellbeing and the success of any business.
But what does an inclusive culture look like?
An inclusive culture has to be driven by the leaders in the organisation. They need to set the tone and take a zero-tolerance approach to non-compliant behaviour.
Inclusive cultures permeate every level of an organisation, but when the leaders don’t spearhead the approach, it allows others to devalue the concept, and the impact is diluted.
Inclusion is about every interaction and connection established at work. Creating an environment where employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work and feel valued; a feeling of community amongst co-workers which inspires collective ownership of success, and failure.
Strengthening the psychological capital of your employees at work is critical to creating an inclusive environment. Motivation and spending time getting to know the interests and ambitions of your employees are essential. Regular and clear communication is also crucial so that people feel included.
An employee operating in a culture where they are encouraged to voice their opinion; feel confident to share their ideas and know that failure is viewed as learning, is a far happier employee.
The correlation between happiness and innovation is irrefutable. Research suggests that happy employees are 12% more productive, and they are six times less like to want to leave. Companies with happy employees, on average, outperform their competitors by 20%, as they feel more confident to innovate, which is critical in such a challenging market.
As previously mentioned, changing a company’s culture has to start with leadership. Here are just a couple of ideas around creating the inclusive culture you want:
Making resources available
Providing access to the resources your employees need to engage with the company is critical. Whether that is the technology to connect, or the right groups to join, you must recognise their needs.
The chance to speak
Most employees will have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t in their area. Trust your team enough to take on their opinions when considering a change. Find a way to facilitate that discussion.
Creating a collaborative environment ensures everyone’s skills are valued, and there is collective ownership for projects. Find the tools that map out the different roles in your team and facilitate better discussion so that peoples’ contributions are heard.
Happiness = Success
While a great deal of this might seem fairly obvious, the reality of creating an inclusive culture is not easy.
However, with happier employees and improved results, there is surely no excuse but to help everyone bring their whole selves to work.
Michelle Lownie is COO and founding director at Eden Scott
More information available here: Talent Spark
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