I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say:
Inclusion at work is vital.
Knowing how to start including people in the workplace though, well that can often be confusing. There’s a lot of options to choose from, but you’re not quite sure what’s the right choice to make.
In this article we’re going to solve that – together.
You’re going to learn four simple ways to make your workplace more inclusive for everybody from the minute you’re finished reading:
What Does An Inclusive Workplace Look Like?
A lot of businesses hold a negative view of inclusion. Not because they don’t believe in the concept, but because it’s often painted as some sort of office-based utopia from a novel.
But that isn’t what it has to be at all. Here’s the best way I’ve ever heard it described, from the clever guys over at Equality Human Rights:
“An environment where everyone is treated with
dignity and respect, where the talents and skills of
different groups are valued, and where productivity
and customer service improves because the workforce
Basically, it’s a workplace that transcends gender, race, sexuality and disability. It accepts it’s barriers and works to break them down to reap the benefits of a diverse, people focused work place.
Let’s take a look at four simple ways you can achieve that, right now:
#1: Focus On The Individual
At the heart of it, Inclusion is valuing others.
Their strengths, their weaknesses, their differences and what makes that person unique. Because everybody has their own value to bring, which makes your workforce more than just the sum of its parts.
But when you’re managing a team, it’s easy to forget this and focus on everybody as one unit instead of helping each individual person with their own barriers and putting them in a position where they’re more likely to succeed.
Yes, it’s important to take lead on a team to reach a goal. But it’s also important to remember the individuals that make up that team, and make sure they’re presented with the right opportunities too.
Another important factor here is communication.
There not only needs to be the right channels of communication – with an open flow between managers and employees – but everybody needs to be communicated with in the right way.
To give that some simple context:
In our case study with our Embrace program, we found that ‘problem’ children – those who were underachieving or had behavioural issues – weren’t that way because they were inherently naughty.
Instead they were bored and confused because they didn’t understand the instructions they were given; because there was a language barrier between the teachers, students and parents.
You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked in the workplace, too. Where employees are left to their own devices but are too scared or confused to ask the right questions.
By opening that channel of communication – as you’ll see in the last point – you can make a big difference in the inclusion (and results) of your team.
#2: Follow The 36-Inch Rule
Every time you try to walk to your office the walkway keeps getting narrower and narrower. You trip over office supplies and wires, knock over the occasional cup of coffee and find yourself with bruises on your shoulders from banging into filing cabinets.
How many days in a row do you think you could cope with that for? Probably not many.
But that’s the reality for a lot of disabled and impaired employees every single say. Which is why the 36-inch rule is such a powerful – yet simple – rule for inclusion.
What it means is the distance for all:
- Entrances and Exits
- Spaces between walls and desks
Should be at least 36 inches wide, to allow full movement and easy passing. It’s a subtle change, but it can make a huge difference to the mind-set and happiness of people in your workplace.
#3: Create Mentoring Opportunities
In my last blog post I talked about Next Jump, a company with a no-fire policy, who had over 90% of employee’s say that they love their jobs.
And there’s a big reason for that turnaround, aside from the fact that their staff can’t get sacked:
It’s because they create mentoring and coaching opportunities for everyone.
A key indicator for feeling valued is being given the opportunity to progress, learn and not feel stuck beneath a glass ceiling. Which is why so many of my colleagues from my days in the Police are looking elsewhere!
Mentoring opportunities don’t have to be outsourced or used in the form of courses. In fact, reverse mentoring is free and can be used to make your entry-level employee’s feel truly valued.
For example, in the office recently I’ve had one of the younger staff on my team me how to make the most of the Debonair Languages Twitter account, to connect with language professionals from all over the world.
This opens more channels of communication across your employees too. Because people are able to interact, and put trust in, people they may not usually get to be around.
There are people at all levels in your workplace with valuable experience; give them an opportunity to impart it, and grow themselves.
#4: Cater For Different Languages And Cultures
Here’s an interesting statistic for you:
- Don’t feel part of the organisation
- Have their advancement blocked
- Feel there are cultural barriers
- Don’t feel valued
Which is an incredible shame, because diverse employees – those from difference backgrounds, races and abilities – all have something unique to offer you.
A big part of this problem comes down to communication. And, the lack of it.
For example, whilst running our Embrace programs in schools, we discovered that when the communication barriers were broken between students and teachers – by using interpreters – their performance increased dramatically.
And the same scenario is happening in the work place.
So how can you break down these barriers in your work place? Well it could be as simple as printing documents in their native tongue.
But, if you want to know how to really break down these cultural and communication barriers, I recommend getting in touch with me here to see how our Embrace program can help you.