The idea of inclusivity is becoming more widely recognized as a vital part of a successful organization. After all, it takes an inclusive culture to bring forth the array of strengths and talents that diverse teams possess. But knowing exactly what to do to create an environment that fosters inclusion can be challenging.
At RallyBright, we've identified six key elements of organizational and team inclusion and collaboration. These elements include alignment, cooperation, fairness, compassion, belonging, and psychological safety. By creating an environment that fosters each of these key elements, you can begin to empower the highest-impact teamwork: inclusive collaboration.
We define inclusive collaboration as a state of working in which groups recognize the need to align not only on the common goals and objectives (the “what”), but also on the communication and interpersonal norms (the "how") that will ensure success.
By recognizing the elements of an inclusive workplace and using inclusion and collaboration metrics to track progress over time, you can pinpoint behaviors that hinder your inclusivity efforts. When you add specific strategies for creating an inclusive workplace, you're likely to recognize the benefits of inclusivity sooner.
5 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Workplace
An inclusive workplace is not something that will simply evolve over time. Creating one requires planning and effort, as well as the participation of employees at every level within your organization. These five strategies, when implemented with intent, can help you develop an inclusive workplace – one in which every employee feels that they belong.
Everything from day-to-day conversations to specific inclusivity communication efforts can work toward your inclusivity goals. Consider how these communication tactics can impact workplace inclusivity.
- Change the casual conversation. When leaders and employees rely solely on traditional pronouns or titles (like husband or wife), or acknowledge only the holidays celebrated by a majority, they can unwittingly exclude entire groups of people. Consider broadening your approach to be more inclusive in such efforts.
- Integrate inclusivity into your company's core values. If your company's core values have been the same since the organization was founded, it's likely time for an update. Include a statement that shows your company-wide commitment to an inclusive workplace culture, and tie those values to observable behaviors.
- Communicate with check-ins. One-on-one meetings or casual conversations give leaders an opportunity to check on the general well-being of employees as individuals. This can include the effects of challenges inside and outside of the workplace.
- Encourage communication among coworkers. Create opportunities that encourage employees to spend time together talking both formally and informally. For example, sponsor a virtual internal lunch & learn where teammates take turns leading the learning, and send lunch to both office-based and remote team members.
- Create multiple avenues of communication. It's no secret that extroverts project confidence and are more likely to be recognized for ideas. By creating virtual or physical suggestion boxes and other equal-access forums, you can encourage conversations and ideas from more introverted employees.
Like physical safety, psychological safety is crucial to creating the environment individuals need to participate in the workplace effectively. In a workplace that promotes psychological safety, employees at all levels feel comfortable sharing ideas, challenging the status quo, and asking for help. True inclusion can be felt in day-to-day interactions between team members, coworkers, and leaders. According to McKinsey & Company, a positive team climate is the number one driver of psychological safety. Yet, only 43% of respondents in the survey reported a positive team climate.
While creating psychological safety can't be entirely a top-down initiative, leaders have a responsibility to set the tone that creates an inclusive environment. This environment begins with self-awareness and respect for others. Create opportunities to get to know your employees personally and for coworkers to get to know each other. Show engagement at meetings and participate in discussions that encourage collaboration from all team members. When observing employees and teams at work, observe suppressive behavior and what actions by others discourage participation. As discussions play out, encourage constructive criticism and treat mistakes as learning opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, model this attitude by speaking about your own mistakes and the insights they have bestowed.
Two in three employees (63%) feel their voice has been in some way ignored by their manager or employer. Even worse, 34% of employees would rather quit or switch teams than voice their true concerns with management. The reality is, most employees aren't attending work simply to receive a paycheck. They need to understand the contributions they make to the company. By prioritizing collaboration, you can help employees recognize this purpose.
High-quality collaboration entails that all employees have a voice in their workplace. It provides individual employees with the motivation to strive for their best work and creates an environment that enables coworkers to recognize one another's strengths. Take these steps to improve collaboration in your organization.
- Divide work into clear roles and responsibilities
- Share knowledge freely
- Both give and seek out constructive feedback
- Celebrate achievements and rewards as a group
Getting rid of the "us versus them" mentality is essential in creating an inclusive workplace. Successful companies can't have goals that benefit the company or the employees. Instead, goals should align to benefit both parties. Teams with shared values and purpose are better positioned to achieve their goals. By discussing team and organizational direction and purpose frequently, you can align all employees toward a shared goal.
For employees who hope to find a purpose at work and bring value to the workplace, finding future opportunities within an organization is important. Similarly, companies hoping to retain employees for long periods of time can achieve this by creating new opportunities for loyal employees. 61% of adults in the US seek career development opportunities when considering a job position. When you provide relevant learning and development opportunities for all employees within your company, today's employees become tomorrow's leaders. In addition to achieving the D&I goals your company currently strives for, placing previously marginalized groups in positions of growth helps create leaders for younger generations to relate to.
Why Having an Inclusive Workplace Matters
It's no secret that record numbers of employees quit their jobs in 2021. While quit rates were high across both blue-collar and white-collar industries, numbers were lower within companies with a reputation for healthy company culture. While there has been much discussion about wage dissatisfaction surrounding the Great Resignation, data shows the leading prediction of attrition to be toxic corporate culture. Further analysis found that the leading elements contributing to toxic cultures include failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; workers feeling disrespected; and unethical behavior.
Similarly, a RallyBright study revealed that job satisfaction rises as inclusion and collaboration increase. At the same time, turnover intent and burnout decrease. When companies create a highly inclusive workplace, job satisfaction improves by 32.2%, turnover intent declines by 23.5%, and burnout shrinks by 29.8%.
While it's vital to offer employees competitive wages that reflect their valuable contributions, employees value company culture more than compensation. According to Gallup, a positive workplace culture leads to a 50-point increase in employee engagement, a 25% growth in the workforce over a three-year period, and an 85% net profit increase over 5 years.
Creating an inclusive workplace doesn't only provide ways to avoid massive turnover in a tight labor market. It serves as a way to improve both the way your employees perform and your organization's bottom line. Most importantly, it builds an environment of trust where employees are interested in promoting shared values and aligned goals.
Build an Inclusive Workplace for a Better Culture
Creating an inclusive workplace requires considerable effort and an ongoing commitment. However, the rewards of achieving your goals offer opportunities to advance your brand and provide value to your employees. Organizations that take steps to address increasingly complex work environments, reasons for employee burnout, and ongoing health and safety concerns are more likely to recruit and retain employees with a desire to succeed. Furthermore, these motivated employees have the potential to attract additional talent to your organization.
The RallyBright Inclusive Collaboration Toolkit provides leaders and teams with measurable data and practical feedback for improving inclusion and collaboration, which our research has shown leads to increased job satisfaction and decreased turnover intent. By using the toolkit, leaders can actively uncover roadblocks and take guided action to improve inclusion and collaboration on their teams and across their organization. Book a demo here.