The idea of belonging is deeply rooted in social psychology. Humans have a deep desire to connect with other people and feel like they’re a part of something greater than themselves, both in private life and in their professional settings. One way businesses can nurture this sense of belonging and make their employees feel valued is by becoming more inclusive.
Not only does this boost employee performance and engagement, but it also prevents them from feeling left out. If you’re looking to make your workplace more inclusive, here are five tips to get you started.
Treat others how they want to be treated
Growing up, we’re taught to treat others the way we’d like to be treated. While this still remains a golden rule and a moral principle many of us follow, when it comes to modern day professional settings, the rule doesn’t necessarily apply there. Diverse business environments require a different, more tailored approach, one that focuses on how the other person wants to be treated instead of everyone being treated the same.
We’re all unique individuals, and as such, we may not always share the same values, worldviews, and expectations, and that’s okay. What we need to do is try to be more considerate of others, their cultures, and how certain interactions are perceived across cultures (eye contact, handshake, etc.). In doing so, we can avoid misunderstandings while also encouraging employees to look at things from a different perspective.
Make employee safety your top priority
The office needs to be a place where each one of your employees can feel safe. In order to achieve that, companies need to identify and effectively address the needs of their employees. Start by creating a welcoming environment for everyone – both visitors and employees – by making sure that entrances and all the common areas are wheel-chair accessible. Make sure that the building is easy to navigate and that it complies with ADA accessibility standards.
You should also consider your employees’ needs for privacy and respond by providing gender-neutral restrooms, lactation rooms, and prayer rooms. Even something as simple as creating quiet workspaces that are separated from the open floor plan can go a long way in boosting performance of employees who don’t perform well in such large spaces and may get overstimulated or distracted.
Integrate inclusivity into your workplace policies
One of the best ways to model inclusive behavior is by making inclusivity a part of your workplace policies. Start by taking a look at your current business practices and evaluating them, and then taking action and creating a workplace that facilitates diversity and inclusivity.
Sometimes, this will mean introducing new policies such as turning to a registered NDIS service provider to offer individualized disability care to persons from all backgrounds and cultures. Other than offering appropriate support, such services help address a participant’s concerns and aid in their personal NDIS goals. Other times, companies will simply need to adjust current policies in order to support inclusivity in the workplace. This could mean offering daycare on site along with flexible working hours as well as developing a remote work policy.
Celebrate employees’ differences
Making each one of your employees feeling included, valued, and heard is great. What’s even better is celebrating who your employees are and their differences. The most inclusive workplaces are those that encourage employees to learn about each other’s cultures.
You can start by conducting informal meetings on a monthly basis. This will provide an opportunity for employees from all the different cultures to form a bond with others and promote inclusivity, making your company feel like a whole. Another way to do this is to come up with a holiday calendar that is culturally diverse, as this will encourage everyone to take part in celebrating different traditions. You can also create events and even organize small celebrations in the office, and show respect to employees from different cultures by wishing them happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holidays.
Embrace diversity by doing annual inclusive training
Last but not least, another way to become more inclusive is to make inclusive training a part of your routine. The truth is, your employees may come from different backgrounds and differ in terms of gender, nationality, and abilities. For you to be able to create an inclusive workplace, you need to do your best to increase awareness and teach your employees how to properly interact with employees who may have dissimilar perspectives.
Now, some companies may consider inclusion training to be costly, but it should be seen as an investment. Aside from the long-term benefits of annual inclusive training – such as boosting employee morale and productivity – this can be your chance to show your employees you value inclusiveness and diversity, which will make all the employees feel appreciated and welcome.
Encouraging a culture that’s inclusive is essential for ensuring a strong workforce and a thriving business. With these few tips in mind, you can start cultivating an environment that will make every employee feel included, thus encouraging innovation, creativity, and growth.
Sophia Smith is a lifestyle and social media blogger, and graphic and UX designer. She is an aesthete and photography lover by heart who absolutely loves everything that includes visual communication. Lately, Sophia writes about digital marketing topics, from content to social. She has contributed to a number of publications including Women Love Tech, Leader Maker, Legal Reader, BizCover, Businessing Mag, Ruby Connection, Monterey Premier, Pix Teller and many others. You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter.