Technological advances continue to mold how the world conducts business. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of businesses were forced to move to the remote workplace due to stay-at-home orders and similar legislation. Thus, technological advances relating to digital communication were at the forefront of these businesses’ battles to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Many businesses were surprised to find that their employees were more than capable of performing at high levels in the remote setting, ultimately allowing for HR departments to start considering hiring new talent able perform their duties from home. This makes the potential employee pool much larger for a given company, which is great, but it also means that companies need to ensure that new hires feel welcomed and respected. As the employee pool grows, so does the diversity of potential employees.
A conscious focus on diversity and inclusion training is paramount for ensuring all employees, old and new, are enabled to perform at their highest levels by feeling welcomed, included, and heard. More than 80% of individuals under the age of 40 list diversity and inclusion as important things they look for in a new company, and for both moral and business reasons, following the inclusive workplace model is a must for success beyond 2021.
Inclusion – a win-win-win
Discomfort in the workplace can be caused by many different things, and some are very hard to overcome, such as a constant heavy workload. Feeling unwelcomed is another common reason for workplace discomfort, but one that is much easier to fix. Happy employees perform better, they stay with companies longer, and they are accustomed to making the workplace more enjoyable for their colleagues as well.
Business do need to make concerted efforts to increase diversity in the workplace, but the three-fold payoff is proven repeatedly. By making commitments to inclusion, your workplace becomes more comfortable for a larger breadth of people, and this overall feeling of a positive work environment is the cause of so many people, regardless of their own cultures and beliefs, wanting to work for a company revered for its diversity and inclusion.
As an added bonus, having a diverse staff that is well-trained in cultural awareness and inclusion also makes your company more appealing to customers and clients.
Importance of employee retention
In each of the last three years (with 2020 being an anomaly, but still relevant) more than 25% of employees willfully left their jobs for something they hoped would be better. The reasons for doing so are aplenty, but even those who “stumbled upon something better” had it in their minds that their current situation wasn’t serving them.
To be fair, the proverbial deck is stacked against companies, as a study on employee retention determined that 75% of current employees didn’t expect to be with their companies five years from now. With this in mind, it’s an uphill climb to retain employees, but it all starts with treating them well, and treating them well starts with making them feel welcomed. This is where the inclusive model plays a large part in employee retention.
Employee retention saves your company training time, turnover issues, and means deeper relationships among colleagues, which leads to increased productivity. It also costs money to hire and train new people, and regardless of those new individuals’ credentials, they will be less in tune with company culture than the people they replace, for at least a short amount of time.
Diversity and growth
Akin to employee retention, diversity and inclusion also result in company growth. A diverse workforce is more welcoming to members of the ever-growing employee pool mentioned in the introduction, and the more appealing your workplace is, the better chance you have of landing top-notch talent.
A will for inclusion stems from internal interactions, and also makes your company more appealing to work with in addition to working for. There is nothing unethical about inviting employees with a given background to sit in on meetings with potential clients who have the same background, as it means your team is apt to understanding and respecting any cultural differences that may occur while conducting business.
So, morality should be the most important reason to want to increase your company’s focus on inclusion, but it’s also good for your bottom line.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to ecommerce and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.