5 ways Inclusivity Can Help Build a High-Engagement Culture 

A workplace without inclusivity can be a roadblock to any project’s success. If the culture at your company keeps people from speaking up, it could also mean that important insights and details are being missed at meetings. All stakeholders should have the opportunity to raise their concerns or opinions so that your business receives the feedback it needs to readjust its strategies. In fact, according to the 2023 McKinsey report, boardrooms with diverse members financially outperform their less diverse counterparts by 27%. 

If you want to experience the financial benefits of a diverse and inclusive work culture, read on to learn some tips on how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. But first, let’s dive into the potential benefits of an inclusive, high-engagement workplace. 

How are inclusivity and a high-engagement culture connected?

In the most recent 2023 State of the Global Workplace report, 41% of quiet quitters believe that engagement at their workplace is the main area of improvement for their company. Even though strategic responsibilities tend to be assigned to managers and specialists, everyone on your team still needs to feel comfortable and excited to speak up to maximise engagement. 

Here are the top five ways in which inclusivity directly affects engagement:

Improved Employee Retention

When your work culture can provide the sense of belonging that every human yearns for, it meets one of their basic needs, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Employees are five times more likely to stay at their company for a long time when they are in an inclusive work environment.

Better Collaboration and Problem Solving

During any meeting or all-hands-on-deck scenario, you need to be able to rely on your team to put in the work. If they feel like their contributions matter, they become engaged and responsible in their role. 

Also, while it can be challenging to get everyone caught up to speed, their insights can be valuable when you’re trying to brainstorm solutions. A more inclusive work environment encourages team members to speak out more and can identify gaps or opportunities when they are prompted.

Higher Stakeholder Buy-In

In change management, managing the emotions of your team can be the key to improving stakeholder buy-in. If they consider you to be an ally or their champion, you can sway them to align with the mission of the company. They will be able to stay on board for necessary changes and reduce the challenges that come with change management.

Attract Future Talent

As many prefer to pursue easy degrees that pay well, an educated workforce has particular priorities they look for in their future job. According to Glassdoor, 76% of job seekers believe that inclusive work culture is one of their non-negotiables. Meanwhile, 32% of those currently employed and looking for work would not consider applying to a company with a lack of diversity. If you truly want to attract the best talent for your business, you need to prioritise implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies. 

Greater Productivity

Did you know that low employee engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion, which accounts for 9% of the global GDP? So, to build an inclusive workplace is to value what happens to your business’s bottom line. Employees are not as productive when they are not focused on their tasks or when they do not feel included in their workplace. Since an inclusive work culture can be a driving factor for motivation, ensuring a more inclusive work environment can keep your team driven for financial success.

What can leaders do to establish an inclusive environment?

About 70% of team engagement is attributable to the manager. Therefore, leaders in your business will need to be champions of a more DEI-friendly environment.

Here are some ways you can ensure inclusion at work:

Signal Your Inclusiveness

You can start to include pronouns in your username if you have a virtual workplace. This lets your coworker know that you are an ally and that you are a safe space. At the same time, it saves time on guesswork for those who have never met you in person but want to communicate respectfully.

Another way to signal inclusion is to acknowledge any concerns, opinions, or suggestions raised in meetings or discussions. The person communicating with you will feel heard, seen, and empowered– three positive things they can attribute to your leadership.

For example, Autodesk fosters an inclusive work culture through mindful meeting practices and offers valuable insights for organisations aiming to enhance collaboration and engagement. By implementing tactics such as sharing information beforehand, leveraging inclusive technology for remote workers, and considering diverse time zones, Autodesk ensures equal participation and promotes a sense of belonging for all team members. 

Moreover, practices like attributing ideas to their original sources and challenging harmful biases like “mansplaining” create a safe and respectful communication environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute and be heard regardless of gender or communication style. 

Offer Opportunities Through Delegation

Delegating tasks is like hitting two birds with one stone in an inclusive work environment: you are allocating resources while showing a team member that you trust them. Trust is a two-way street, so when you signal your trust, they are more likely to reciprocate. 

They can also feel recognised by their manager or a leader in the business. Delegation is a promising opportunity for the task owner to showcase their skills and grow within the company. When you delegate, make sure you provide team members with equal opportunities. 

Guide Without Favoritism

When you conduct feedback sessions with your team members, you need to be careful with how you guide them in the right direction. Avoid comparing team members with one another in an attempt to drive productivity through competition. Favoritism can lead to cliques and disengagement at work, the complete opposite of what you want to accomplish when establishing an inclusive environment.

Train on and Celebrate Diversity

Conduct training and education workshops on inclusivity at work. You can either outsource this with an agency that specialises in DEI or have your human resources department facilitate it. Through staff training, you can inform your employees about the company’s DEI policies and highlight how everyone’s involvement is a determining factor for its success. 

LinkedIn’s approach to recognising and rewarding champions of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) offers valuable insights for fostering a more engaged and inclusive workplace. By financially compensating Employee Resource Groups (ERG) leaders, LinkedIn demonstrates a tangible acknowledgment of their contributions, motivating individuals dedicated to D&I work and signaling the strategic importance of diversity within the company. This recognition not only encourages existing champions to further invest their time and effort into driving D&I initiatives but also attracts talented individuals passionate about diversity, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive culture.

Measure and Evaluate DEI

Incorporating feedback in your DEI strategy is important if you want to measure how well the policies have been adopted and their impact on your business. There are many ways to evaluate DEI success, but one of the most cost-effective ways is to survey your team. 

Here are some sample questions that you can ask:

  • How would you describe the level of inclusivity in our workplace?
  • Have you personally experienced or observed any barriers to career advancement within the organisation?
  • How aware are you of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion policies?

Alternatively, you can establish KPIs based on existing DEI scales, such as the Academy to Innovate HR’s (AIHR) ten DEI metrics or Harvard Business Review’s five stages of DEI maturity.

Include to Engage and Succeed

Although inclusion may seem like an afterthought after your bottom line, inclusion has a real impact on your company’s productivity and retention. Maintaining a sense of belonging can help your business succeed and keep your employees invested. 

Author: Binu Jacob – EFS Engagement & Communications Co-lead

Photo credit: Tima Miroshnichenko

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