Building a thriving & coherent workplace: 10 strategies for inclusivity
In this guest article, Rosalyn Palmer, therapist and coach, discusses her top 10 strategies for making your workplace an inclusive space.
Imagine your workplace as a big family.
In this family, it’s important that everyone feels respected and included. Just like any family, fostering a sense of belonging and trust is crucial for the well-being of its members.
Perhaps this is easier said than done.
So, to guide you, here are 10 friendly tips to make sure everyone in your work family feels valued:
1. Clear communication: nurturing trust through transparency
Open and transparent communication is the cornerstone of any successful family, including your work family. From a psychological standpoint, clear communication reduces uncertainty and anxiety, fostering a sense of belonging and trust among employees. When your team understands the “why” behind decisions and actions, they’re more likely to feel like active participants rather than passive observers.
2. Inclusive language: building bridges, not walls
Encourage the use of inclusive language that respects individuals’ gender, ethnicity, abilities, and backgrounds. This isn’t just about politically correct terminology or some tick-box exercise fitting to the times; it’s about creating a welcoming atmosphere and demonstrating respect for psychological well-being. Words have the power to unite or divide, so choose them wisely. Much pejorative language that we accepted in the workplace in the 80s and 90s has thankfully been called out today. Just check what you are saying. How would it feel to be on the receiving end of it?
3. Diverse leadership: leading by example
Your leadership team sets the tone for the entire organisation. One of the highlights of my life was spending an hour in a hot tub in Maui, Hawaii with General Norman Schwarzkopf just after the Gulf War. He was a keynote speaker at an event I was handling the PR for and I was thrilled to meet him. I asked him what his definition of leadership was. He said: “Getting men and women who don’t want to be somewhere to willingly follow you by the example you set.”
Diverse leadership teams not only bring a wealth of perspectives but also signal to employees that different voices are not only heard but valued. Psychologically, this inspires others to excel, knowing that their unique contributions matter.
4. Training and awareness: unmasking unconscious bias
Offer diversity and inclusion training for all employees. This training helps raise awareness of biases, which are crucial to address from a psychological perspective to promote a fair and inclusive workplace. When people understand their biases, they can actively work to counteract them, fostering a more inclusive environment. Again, go beyond just making this a cosmetic exercise by valuing it yourself.
5. Mentorship programmes: nurturing growth and belonging
Implement mentorship programs that pair experienced employees with newcomers, especially from underrepresented groups. This fosters psychological support, career development, and a sense of belonging. It sends a message that everyone has an opportunity to learn and grow within the organisation.
6. Feedback mechanisms: empowering voices
Create channels for employees to provide feedback on inclusivity. From a psychological viewpoint, this empowers individuals to voice concerns and helps organisations identify areas for improvement. When employees see their feedback leading to positive changes, they feel valued and heard. Also don’t create an atmosphere of fear by giving negative feedback after their suggestions have been made. It will stifle creativity and contribution.
7. Inclusive benefits: prioritising well-being
Review and adjust benefit packages to accommodate diverse needs, including mental health support. This demonstrates a commitment to employees’ psychological well-being, making it clear that the organisation cares about their holistic health. Healthy, happy employees (and leaders) will bring an ROI that no shareholder could ever imagine.
8. Zero-tolerance policies: a safe haven
Enforce zero-tolerance policies for discrimination and harassment. From a psychological standpoint, this ensures a safe environment where individuals can focus on their work without fear of mistreatment. It’s like creating a secure haven within your work family where everyone is protected and respected.
9. Celebrate diversity: embracing individual identities
Recognise and celebrate cultural and diversity-related events and holidays. This contributes positively to psychological well-being by acknowledging and respecting individual identities. When people can bring their whole selves to work, they’re more likely to feel valued and motivated. Joint celebrations are also very bonding.
10. Accountability and measurement: driving continuous improvement
Establish clear accountability for inclusivity goals and measure progress. Psychologically, this shows commitment to continuous improvement, which can boost employee morale. It sends the message that inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword but a genuine commitment to making the work-family better every day.
In conclusion, we need to aim to create an environment where individuals feel psychologically safe, valued, and supported.
Such an environment not only enhances the well-being of employees but also contributes to a more productive and harmonious workplace.
Like anything in life: your family; your garden; your pets; your interests; whatever is important to you in short, it flourishes when you nurture it. By implementing these 10 strategies, you’ll be well on your way to building a thriving and resilient work family.