Whether your staff are office-based or working remotely, it’s your responsibility to provide an environment where everyone feels safe and welcome at work. Your employees will be happier and more productive when they’re given equal opportunity to succeed.
There are challenges in building an inclusive workplace, but there are numerous resources that can help. Here are some tips to help you make your workplace inclusive for everyone.
Communication is key in creating a more inclusive environment. When information that affects everyone is shared with some team members but not all, it creates a distinction between those who are on the “inside” and those who are out—creating tension and negative emotions. This can also lead to a game of “telephone” that distorts facts and creates rumors.
To prevent this, share your values and goals with the entire team, as well as any plans for growth or change. You’ll want to have meetings on a regular basis (quarterly or biannually) so everyone can be updated on what is going on within the company. If part of your team works at home or outside the office, engage them in virtual meetings so they will feel like part of the team.
Ensure Your Mission Statement And Values Are Inclusive
Create a mission statement that places inclusion as one of the company’s core values. Promote diversity by celebrating differences instead of judging them or trying to change them. Respect diversity in all its forms; celebrate differences rather than trying to make everyone conform to a single mold.
Designate A Space For Quiet Reflection Or Meditation
A designated space for quiet reflection or meditation can help build a sense of community at your workplace and reduce burnout. This can be as simple as having an insulated room with chairs and windows or even a meditation corner in the breakroom.
You could also offer some space for quiet reflection, such as designated areas separated from work spaces by visual barriers, dividers, or screens where employees may take occasional breaks to relax and reflect on their day while seated comfortably. These areas would not have desks but comfortable seating like chaise lounges or bean bags, and they could serve as locations for informal meetings or impromptu discussions between co-workers.
Reminding remote employees to take breaks can also be necessary as the line between work and home life blur.
Provide Training On How To Be More Inclusive In The Workplace
Provide training on diversity sensitivity so everyone understands their own biases and how those might influence their actions. Hold diversity training sessions with staff at least once every two years because it continues to be important as new people join the team and the biases of long-term employees may shift over time.
Reinforcing the importance of empathy and sensitivity among your team will help avoid situations where one employee may unintentionally make another feel uncomfortable — or in some cases create a situation where an employee may become physically or emotionally unsafe.
Diversify Your Hiring Process
Post job listings with clear requirements. Make sure that all hiring decisions are based on qualifications rather than personal attributes or preferences. Be mindful of how biases might affect your interactions with employees and customers alike, whether it’s in-person or remote via cloud calling or video chat.
Where possible, make your hiring process more inclusive for diverse candidates by including employees with different backgrounds in each stage of the process.
Offer Constructive Feedback (Not Just Criticism)
Feedback is a critical part of any process, but it is particularly important for building an inclusive environment. Feedback can be given constructively or critically, so make sure the feedback you’re providing is constructive.
Constructive feedback allows people to improve their work, and learning from their mistakes can increase job satisfaction. However, critical feedback focuses on the negative and may cause them to start doubting themselves. Provide opportunities for growth for current employees by providing access to online courses, webinars, or keynote speakers. Expand your employees’ financial knowledge so they can understand how the flow of money matters to your business.
Have Policies That Protect People From Discrimination
Discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, etc. is unfortunately very common, and it can be hard to address because we are all biased by our own life experiences and backgrounds. However, when you have enforceable policies that protect people from discrimination it becomes easier to take action against those who discriminate — intentionally or unintentionally.
There are many ways to enforce these policies. Hold managers accountable for their actions via performance reviews or counseling sessions. Set clear guidelines about what constitutes sexual harassment or bias so employees know they’re protected from mistreatment.
Create a channel for employees to report issues without fear of reprisal. A whistleblowing system protects your employees and encourages them to bring issues to light promptly.
Offer Flexible Work Schedules
Flexible hours can accommodate different lifestyles. Allowing your employees to work from home or from a satellite office are excellent ways to give them some freedom.
Some corporations have successfully provided flexible hours with mixed results. The key is finding a balance between what your team needs and what you as an employer need from them during their workday.
Talk through some options for flexibility that might suit both parties better than one extreme option.
Remove Any Barriers That Prevent Employees From Doing Their Jobs
Barriers such as a lack of accessible restrooms can create an unsafe and unwelcoming workplace, and it’s important to provide accommodations for employees with disabilities like mobility issues and hearing impairments.
Employees who work remotely might experience barriers in accessing software features, so make sure they have access to everything from their remote workplace.
It is important for remote workers to be able to contribute and participate without having to physically be present. With hybrid teams where some employees work from home and some employees are present, it can be difficult to include the whole team. Be mindful of co-workers and employees who aren’t physically present and incorporate video calls in all meetings with remote workers.
Create An Environment That Is Welcoming And Comfortable For Everyone
Both in the office and in remote office settings, employees should have an inclusive workspace. Provide specialized keyboards or any other equipment they need. This may mean adding a smartboard or digital signage for those with visual impairments or providing easy-to-reach furniture and adjustable desks so someone in a wheelchair can work and participate fully without feeling left out.
Have some tips of your own for building an inclusive workspace? Please add your comments below.
Author bio: Nicholas Rubright is a digital marketing specialist and expert writer at Mvix. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys playing guitar, writing music, and building cool things on the internet.
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