The need for inclusion within organizations has received headlines across the globe. Workplaces are responding in a variety of ways with differing initiatives, but without employee adoption of inclusive workplace behaviors, organizations will see diminishing returns on their goal of cultural change. Change starts from the top down but it doesn’t stop there. Each employee plays a part in creating an empathetic and inclusive workplace.
Equip to succeed
Provide resources that support employee holistic wellbeing. Equip your team with access to good technology (and accommodations as needed) and learning opportunities to support career wellbeing. Offer holistic health initiatives like a company wide wellbeing program that supports physical and mental wellbeing. Inclusive work behaviors are exemplified when managers see and respond to unmet needs and offer assistance. Mental health accommodations in the workplace are necessary by law but inclusive organizations go beyond by proactively supporting the wellbeing of each of their employees.
Employee assistance programs can support other inclusive workplace behaviors like making asking for help the norm and encouraging coworkers to use the resource without stigmatizing the service. Having a dedicated in-house team that can spearhead initiatives that help those who are struggling is important. If your organization doesn’t have the financial bandwidth to launch a full EAP, consider these other opportunities to support employee mental health with a smaller budget.
Another of the important inclusive workplace behaviors to be adopted within organizations is offering a variety of platforms for employee’s voices to be heard. For some companies this might mean having an open door policy for informal conversations and for others hosting focus groups that are open to all. In general, the more casual these conversations are, the safer they will feel. Good communication is important for any organization and relies on carving out spaces for scheduled and unscheduled conversations.
Focus on strengths
Conversations in the workplace often focus on what’s wrong and how to fix it. Inclusive workplace behaviors start by focusing on what’s right. Find the ways each person contributes to the greater good of the organization and how they are uniquely wired to excel. Notice when peers have done a great job and acknowledge it. Train leaders, especially first-time managers, to celebrate success and offer heartfelt thanks to employees regularly. Employees need this feedback and feel valued when it’s given.
Create a sense of belonging
Employees need a sense of belonging. While this can feel challenging for those who are leading in a hybrid workplace, encouraging inclusive workplace behaviors is possible when managers make it a priority. According to a study by BetterUp, teams with the highest belonging have leaders who are 25% higher on encouraging participation skills, 24% higher on alignment, 22% higher on empathy, 18% higher on recognition, 16% higher on social connection, and 6% higher on relationship building. Company wide belonging initiatives include removing organizational silos and the ensuing “us vs them” mentality. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and communication across the organization.
Inclusive workplace behaviors don’t end with these five tips, but they do provide a starting point for further initiatives and organizational conversations more specific to your team and culture. What’s working for you? We’d love to know!