As corporate human resource departments set out to ensure employee retention and productivity, they should seek not to play favorites. Instead of focusing on a select few of their prized employees and merely keeping those individuals engaged, they should aim to include everyone in the workforce, without exception.
Lately, it’s come to light that “the I word” – inclusion – is a controversial and hotly debated topic in HR circles. Everyone knows that including all workers in HR initiatives is the proper way to go, but it’s easier said than done. Many HR leaders struggle with keeping everyone in the loop.
This is especially problematic for larger employers with diverse workforces. It can be difficult for HR to include many different kinds of employees in workplace initiatives.
How do you communicate with both old workers and young ones, when one group is much less comfortable using modern technology than the other? What’s the appropriate way to discuss payroll and benefits with both low-level individuals and executives, when one group makes far less money? The bigger the company, the more pronounced these differences become, making inclusion a much more challenging endeavor for HR.
Everyone’s talking about inclusion but, truth be told, many companies are failing to walk the walk. According to Human Resource Executive Online, this is a growing problem with plenty of statistical evidence to back it up. The news source recently cited an Ernst and Young study on diversity in the workplace, and the results were alarming. Among 821 executives in 14 countries across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas, 85 percent believe their organizations support inclusive leadership, but 50 percent admit that they lack leaders who can manage and motivate diverse teams.
Mike Cullen, global managing partner of talent at EY in London, told HRE Online that while they understand the importance of inclusion in a diverse workplace, the current crop of HR leaders is having trouble following through on its vision.
“More than 50 percent of [the respondents] said, ‘We get it, but to be honest, we’re questioning the capabilities of our current batch of leaders to lead the business into this environment of more inclusive diversity,” Cullen explained.
Luckily, there are small, significant steps that companies can take to make their places of work more inclusive. Ideally, this would happen not via an overnight revolution, but instead through long-term change. If a business enacts a 12- or 18-month plan to become more inclusive, employees will gradually take notice.
“People have long memories,” BPI Group director of talent solutions Tricia Dupilka told HRE Online. “If you do a 360 too soon, in the back of their mind they may be thinking about well, in the last six months it’s gotten a little better, but they’re not thinking about the difference in the last month. We recommend that a full 360 be done 12 to 18 months down the road.”
Becoming more accommodating to a diverse workforce is a long-term process. Companies should chip away at this obstacle slowly but surely.