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The Inclusive Workplace

A staggering number of Post Covid reports refer to tired and burned-out employees. 

What will make people want to return to the work place? How do we put:

    • the zing back into workplaces? 
    • the excitement back into employees? 
    • the fulfilment back into jobs?

                Start by making your work place inclusive!

What is an inclusive workplace?

Inclusivity caters for, welcomes and supports the different ways people process information, interact with others and achieve goals. The goal is to make employees feel comfortable. It’s a culture (behaviour) that encourages employees to feel valued for their unique qualities and experience a sense of belonging. In simple terms, inclusion is getting the mix to work together.

In an inclusive organisation, one sees diversity at every level. Many cultures, traditions, beliefs, languages and lifestyles are prevalent in both the workforce as well as the customer populations. These differences are respected without judgment. Instead of spending time on conflict, time is spent on bringing out the best in each other and finding ways to celebrate differences. Yes – it’s easier said than done and requires deliberate action! However, it makes a huge difference – to much more than just the bottom line – when you do get it to work.

Just how do you create an inclusive work place?

  1. Start at leadership level. Inclusive workplaces start with authentic, empathetic leaders who make inclusivity a top priority by embracing the input of employees whose backgrounds or expertise differs from their own. They foster collaboration among diverse staff members, which eliminates bias and sets the right example. 
  2. Customise company policies, vision and culture to support all aspects of diversity, address harassment and protect minority groups. 
  3. Redefine recruitment strategies and train people managers on how to select, manage, evaluate and retain diverse employees. Not all skills are developed at work. There are many talented candidates whose CV’s reflect a lack of experience or other large gaps. You may need to provide alternative ways for an applicant to demonstrate their capabilities – such as a competency-based application form, a covering letter or even video submissions (where appropriate). Provide options that allow people to shine. What could you do to allow more people to thrive? You may need to adjust the application, interview or assessment process. Get expert help if necessary.
  4. Provide leadership development opportunities, coaching, mentoring, team building and diversity training.
  5. Connect with employees (be sensitive). Allowing employees multiple ways to provide feedback fosters a healthy work environment, makes employees feel valued  and provides a safe space for employees to be themselves. ‘Psychological safety’ enables team members to share their thoughts and opinions freely, so everyone feels heard. All ideas are on the table – not just those of a select few.

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0418/pages/6-steps-for-building-an-inclusive-workplace.aspx 

Why does inclusivity make good business sense?

75% of large companies with 250+ workers currently report problems with recruiting skilled workers – indicating a significant “talent shortage”. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271303135_The_nature_extent_and_effect_of_skills_shortages_on_skills_migration_in_South_Africa 

Research shows that some of the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace include:

    • increased employee engagement, loyalty and commitment;
    • greater readiness to innovate due to a sense of safety and security;
    • increased sense of belonging, team cohesion and participation; 
    • increased motivation, willingness and happier employees;

These all ultimately lead to increased revenue, et voila – problem solved! Seeing these changes in the organisations and individuals we work with, is by far the most rewarding experience. We specialise in creating “positive” work environments where people learn how to create shared purpose, values, trust, cooperation, safety, risk-taking, support, accountability and equity and look forward to seeing many more companies take up this challenge.

Doesn’t it make good business sense to create and maintain a fully inclusive workplace?

About the author: Trudi du Toit has worked with various organisations, individuals & teams, at different levels & from different industries. She is an experienced & accomplished facilitator – flexible & versatile – able to deal with diverse audiences. As the project manager for Supervisory, Management & Leadership Empowerment, she develops teams and leaders by facilitating  processes that work –  because they change lives and transform businesses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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