Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP
Creating a culture where people feel respected, valued, appreciated, heard and included requires another level of effort that may not be getting the attention and investment it needs. If you want to work in a culture where you “feel the love”—where everyone feels a sense of belonging, connection and community—every employee needs to put forth effort to make that happen. And when you do, this feeling gets passed on to customers and results in more productivity and profit.
But is a lack of love actually an issue? Watch this short video and decide for yourself.
Whether you are a leader or an individual contributor, here are seven strategies to help you create a more inclusive workplace culture today by personally modeling it and also sharing it up, down and across your organization:
- Leave your assumptions at the door. It is easy and often natural to make assumptions about others in the workplace, leading to misunderstandings, biases and often wrong conclusions. The next time you find yourself assuming something of someone—even if it's as simple as "She's probably too busy"—stop yourself. Instead, ask the question first of that individual. Even if you confirm your assumption, you now have an informed understanding.
- Create a collaborative environment. Break down silos and promote organization-wide inclusion by promoting a collaborative environment. This includes a culture of behaviors and actions that inspire, model and align with your inclusive goals. Develop cross-functional projects or meetings between teams or create a random lunch partner program. This will allow your people to meet new coworkers and learn from one another, which ultimately will strengthen your entire culture.
- Change your workspace. If you can do it in your workplace, leave your desk and work in a different area of the office for a few hours. You'd be surprised at how it can really change up your perspective. You may have interactions with people you otherwise wouldn't, especially if you put yourself where there is a consistent movement of people. This small change of scenery will allow for more collisions and spark new ideas.
- Offer a forum of expression. Having a voice by providing regular, optional “town hall” meetings to discuss anything from business decisions, business updates, department efforts or company wins will not only offer an open space where employees can voice their thoughts or concerns—but it also shows your commitment to your people and their value to the company as a whole.
- Demonstrate you care. Show your people you care by hosting regular one-on-one check-ins between managers and employees. Let employees know that it’s their place to openly speak their mind about what matters most to them — whether that’s about their professional development, a current project or if they’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked — start a conversation to support their journey.
- Rotate who leads meetings. Change up the dynamic by rotating who runs meetings. Give that individual the leeway to be creative, while ensuring you're in alignment on the goals of the meeting. This gets people engaged and sends a signal that everyone's contribution matters. When done well, this creates openings for everyone to weigh in and, hopefully, inspire lively discussions and decisive actions.
- Talk about something besides work. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of your job and not take the time to actually get to know colleagues in your office. Disrupt the status quo by having a conversation with a colleague you don't normally talk to and engage them on a non-work related topic. This connection will often improve the ease of the working relationship and enhance overall communication.
Ultimately, individuals need to be recognized for their uniqueness but also feel connected to something bigger. An inclusive culture has many layers and millions of moments that define it, but in order to make a real impact and display an ongoing commitment to employees and colleagues, choose to take small and incremental steps to make your workplace a more inclusive—and likely more successful—environment right now.