What does inclusivity look like when some employees have returned to the office, while others continue to work remotely? We explore how you can include everyone in the conversation.
For many office workers pre-pandemic, gathering in the office was an opportunity for social interaction. Each new week allowed for chance-conversations that sparked ideas, after work social invitations, and the time to bond with your colleagues. Arguably, feeling connected to people and organisations was easier because we were physically there.
But beyond the social aspects, what does inclusivity really mean? Three years on, hybrid working has forced employers to think about how to instil a sense of belonging beyond the traditional office walls. In fact, they’re more concerned about the inclusion risks than employees. Inclusivity isn’t as simple as forcing people back into an office with everyone in the same room, doing the same thing. It’s about allowing people the space to be themselves and explore different rooms, but never feel locked out of any of them.
So, what should you be doing to build inclusivity from the top down?
1. Embrace change
If post-pandemic reality has taught us anything, it’s that we need to embrace change. While many organisations are utilising new technology and digital communication channels, there’s still work to be done to fully embrace the hybrid model. Employees are demanding more flexibility and more autonomy, and employers are having to make some big changes to accommodate these expectations. It’s no surprise that 12% of people have changed their careers due to a lack of flexible working within the sector. Inclusivity is about listening to people’s wants and needs and finding ways to accommodate them. Applying a one-size-fits-all approach can be detrimental to employee wellbeing, productivity and team morale.
2. Include everyone in the conversation
Invite all colleagues – leaders and employees alike – into honest and frank conversations. Sometimes that may mean asking questions that are confronting, such as ‘what makes you feel excluded?’ and ‘how might I be excluding other people?’. Often the uncomfortable questions (and answers) are the trigger for change. Employee feedback is a valuable way to assess how well your processes are working, without the need for guess work. Remember that inclusive language is important in getting people on board with your message.
3. Encourage a collaborative environment
Help your employees to feel valued by embracing their individual differences. Whether that’s encouraging people to share ideas and experiences, or by celebrating different cultures, it promotes organisation-wide inclusion. Employees who feel valued stay in companies longer, so you’ll hep to boost employee retention.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to inclusivity, but using these three tools will start you on the journey to meaningful change.
We help organisations achieve cultural change through great communications. If you’d like to find out more, come and chat to us.