In an increasingly competitive corporate landscape, companies are tasked with finding new and creative ways to attract and retain their workforce. While pursuing things like employee rewards, advanced technology, and office perks can be exciting, more often than not, it’s best to keep it simple. What ultimately keeps employees engaged at work is an inclusive and diverse employee experience.
Getting Leadership on Board
The employee experience, or the journey that an employee experiences from hire through departure is the foundation of how an employee will feel about their work and their employer. This starts as early as attracting candidates to your organization and culminates with the development of that employee within the organization. The employee experience journey must be embraced at the top in order to achieve success. What do we mean by this? We mean that leadership – most importantly the CEO – must be actively invested in the employee experience, rather than passing it along to HR to handle. “Mistakes start to happen because you transfer ownership of an issue, plus your duty and commitment to scaling your workplace culture, to someone else. The most effective change starts at the top. It’s the responsibility of the CEO to co-own the employee experience with the chief human resources officer” (BuiltIn). CEOs and executive teams must not only understand but advocate for and invest in, a successful employee experience.
Best Practices for Building an Inclusive and Diverse Employee Experience
Your leadership team may quickly realize that it’s easy to overthink the concept of employee experience. However, creating a meaningful employee experience is actually quite basic. It can most commonly be defined by 4 key values: respect, clear communication, inclusivity, and diversity. When employees feel respected and included, they are more likely to share ideas and perspectives that can positively impact the work. When communication is deliberate and transparency is valued, confusion is reduced, and productivity (and profitability!) soars. When employees feel represented in their workplace and in their industry, diversity of thought is championed and innovation flourishes.
Unfortunately, this might be where the simplicity stops. It’s easy to get behind these concepts, but harder to implement them. Once the executive team is bought-in, consider starting small, perhaps with something as straightforward as improved communication. A commitment by leadership to transparent and honest communication, even during challenging times, will promote trust between employer and employee. As a next step, your organization might consider opportunities for increased diversity. This might mean actively hiring or seeking opinions from employees of varying genders, ethnicities, and ages. Committing to diversity will increase an organization’s diversity of thought and experience and may even make teams smarter. As shared by HBR, “Working with people who are different from you may challenge your brain to overcome its stale ways of thinking and sharpen its performance.”
Be Thoughtful About the “Business Case”
While efforts to increase communication, inclusion, and diversity are usually well intended, many businesses often tout the benefits of diversity and inclusion on profits. New research has proved this can be counterproductive. “Linking diversity to corporate profits may be a turnoff for the underrepresented individuals the organizations are trying to attract. In fact, the use of the business case to justify diversity can result in underrepresented groups anticipating less belonging to organizations, which, in turn, makes them ultimately less likely to want to join the organization” (Forbes). Organizations must remain thoughtful about messaging, avoiding the trap of disengaging those they’re trying to attract.
The employee experience is truly a journey – one that involves all levels of an organization – and inclusivity and diversity in the workplace have a profound impact on its success. With the commitment of leadership and involvement of employees, organizations can create an environment where employees thrive, contribute their best work, and feel a deep connection to their workplace.