A workplace that fully values every type of person is more likely to attract and retain a variety of employees. Respect and acceptance are universal principles that all people appreciate, and we need to see them in the culture of our workplace. Even if only one group is disadvantaged or hurt systemically, that can hurt the morale of other people who see it happening—as long as they have any human empathy.
However, creating an atmosphere of respect and inclusion takes more than just pointing out the issues. Barack Obama stated in a forum a problem he sees today:
There is this sense that “The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people,” and that’s enough…If I Tweet or hashtag about “You didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb,” then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself. “You see how woke I was? I called you out.” That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.
It takes real work to create a workplace of diversity, inclusion, and employee retention. Simply criticizing people’s word choices is not enough. In fact, there are many more groups and attributes than many people are even aware of. And we can include them to everyone’s advantage. These include:
- Style of thinking
- Style of working
- Sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic origin
A truly diverse and inclusive workplace sees value in all of these. Leaders and HR reps fully believe that they make their workplace stronger, more flexible, and more able to meet their organization’s goals.
How Diversity Leads to Retention
Hiring for a more diverse workforce and educating current employees to value diversity gives us exciting opportunities. As our employees learn more and see their workplace culture improve, they are less likely to want to find a different place to work. Diversity can make your workplace so appealing, employees are unsure what other workplace will compare. Employees can:
- Enjoy Mutual Respect: When you teach your employees to see the value in their differences, they start to find more reasons to respect and appreciate the skills, cultures, and experiences of their coworkers.
- Resolve Conflicts More Quickly: With an emphasis on diversity, employees can more easily see to the heart of conflicts that are caused solely by bias—and stop them.
- Be Proud of Their Organization: If your workplace gets a reputation for inclusion and civility, employees will be proud to say they work there (and more reluctant to leave).
- Become More Prepared for the Future: Diverse employees can learn from each other. Younger employees, for example, can learn principles and techniques from experienced employees, while older employees can learn new skills that recent graduates have recently been exposed to at school.
- Work in Higher-Paying Roles: You may be able to hire and promote employees who have been historically excluded from certain roles because of bias and discrimination.
When you create a workplace that includes and uplifts individuals and groups that have been marginalized at work in the past, you are more likely to get the privilege of their presence for many years.
How to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace
You may believe that a more diverse workplace is important and even vital, but how do you bring it about? One step at a time. It’s impossible to effect a complete change overnight, but here are some steps to try:
- Work on Both Diversity and Inclusion For Better Retention: We often work on diversity through hiring practices, but inclusion refers to the everyday experiences of employees. Are their experiences understood, respected, and valued?
- Diversify Hiring: Seek out a wider range of potential employees to interview, and hire them to increase the viewpoints, backgrounds, and talents in your workforce.
- Reduce Workplace Biases and Microaggressions: Find those moments in employees’ days when they are disadvantaged because of their background—or systematically excluded—and work to remove those negative experiences. Educate non-recruiting leaders and managers about these issues.
- Conduct Surveys: Get anonymous, unfiltered feedback from employees through surveys (using written, online, and phone-in formats as needed) to find out the exact barriers that employees face because of bias and lack of inclusion.
- Work on Institutional Goals and Values: As an HR leader, you can have a part in setting the tone for your organization. Work to revisit your core values and handbook. Try to get these turned into stated goals for managers and employees to follow, which will address disadvantages that certain groups still experience.
How does diversity impact employee retention? As you improve both the diversity of employees and their experiences of being included and valued, employee retention will probably increase. Employees who empathize with other employees are less likely to leave when they see and experience mutual respect among all employees.
Total respect, appreciation, and inclusion for all employees is the goal, but how you eventually get there will be as unique as your organization. Start by learning the genuine challenges present in your organization, and take just one step at a time toward overcoming them and building solutions into your culture—which can last for many years and create a legacy of improvement that strengthens your organization.
Use Eddy’s people management software to keep better track of each employee with a detailed profile, documentation, notes, role description, time off requests, and more. Make all these details easier to track so that you can focus on improving your culture and fulfilling your mission.