6 Ways to Foster an Inclusive Culture of Belonging in the Workplace
Whether you’re an organization looking to grow employee engagement or just want to understand how to make your employees feel at home and give their best, the first place to start is fostering an inclusive culture of belonging. And this begins with understanding how your company’s policies intersect with employees’ daily interactions, work experiences, and identities.
Despite increased diversity efforts in many organizations today, most of these companies are yet to start seeing a lasting impact on minority representation. And this, according to Pat Wadors, a Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging expert at LinkedIn, is due to the absence of a key element, which is belonging, from several diversity and inclusion efforts.
Why is a Culture of Belonging Important?
Typically, anything that threatens the sense of belonging of employees in an organization is ultimately an affront to the success or market competitiveness of the affected organization. When threats to your employees' sense of belonging are properly handled, you’ll notice a reduction in stress levels across the organization, increased engagement, and an increase in the overall emotional well-being of staff.
Setting the scene for belonging in any organization can determine whether or not an employee feels at home or becomes successful working with the company. In other words, employee engagement is directly linked to employees’ sense of belonging. And if past studies on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are anything to go by, we can say that an engaged and happy workforce gives your organization a competitive advantage.
So What is Belonging in the Workplace?
Belonging in the workplace is as simple as it sounds. When each employee feels accepted and included for who they are, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, religion, or disability, and are psychologically safe in their work environment, then you have set the environment for belonging in the workplace.
A work environment that fosters belonging among employees directly empowers them to be more innovative and put in their best at work.
So, how can you foster an inclusive culture of belonging in your organization, so that your employees will enjoy the benefits? FIC Human Resource Partners gives you NUANCE, an all-inclusive resource specifically designed to help you shape and foster a consistent organizational culture by understanding how your company policies intersect with employees’ daily interactions, lived experiences, and identities. Below are the six steps to fostering an inclusive culture of belonging using our NUANCE blueprint.
1. Name Your Culture Goals
Outlining your “culture goals” is the first crucial step. This is because, sometimes, the culture you aim to foster may not be the same as the culture your employees get to experience. This is where the conflict of Intended vs Permitted culture becomes visible. You need to know if your employees’ culture experience is the same as your intended culture, or if the permitted culture conflicts with your intended culture goals.
Similarly, be sure to reconcile your organization’s Macro and Microcultures. Find out if your organization's microcultures align with your intended macro-culture and if they’re working in harmony to create an inclusive culture of belonging.
2. Understand Your Organizational Culture
Fostering an inclusive culture of belonging means balancing the differences across microcultures and aligning them to your larger organizational culture values. But this is only possible when everyone, including employees, understands the culture goals of the organization.
To achieve this, consider using dialogues, sharing the culture of the company with every stakeholder, and ensuring that there is an ongoing conversation related to the goals of the organization.
3. Assess Employee Experience
To give you a rich insight into what your employee experience has been, you want to take time to thoroughly assess their actual experience with your intended culture. The issue of Intended vs Permitted, as well as Macro-cultures and Micro-cultures also comes under consideration here. To ensure that the daily experiences of employees are actually what you want for your organization, then you must first assess their experience to discover where you fall short and how to address the gap.
We typically recommend our Nuance Culture Surveys to help you accomplish this. We’ve designed a series of highly customizable audits and assessments that work in harmony with one another to provide you with an in-depth insight into your organizational culture, moving from the macro-culture level down through the micro-culture levels and into individual employee culture experiences.
4. Narrowly Focus Initiatives
Now that you have identified the culture experience gap at your organization and also named your culture goals, the next thing to do is roll out initiatives that will address your culture re-orientation efforts. At FIC Human Resource Partners, we also have a specific approach to implementing your work culture initiatives across the organization. Typically, the focus is on the social, operational, and ideological culture elements.
While social culture is about identity-based culture experiences, operational culture is about what, why, and how work gets done within an organization. Ideological culture, on the other hand, focuses on the values and principles that drive an organization and its people.
5. Communicate Expectations and Successes
To ensure the intended culture is the same as the permitted culture within your organization, you must explicitly communicate the behaviors, interactions, and expectations regarding the intended culture to all employees. Ideally, organizational cultures will outline the company’s expectations or intentions for interactions between peers and management.
Similarly, when this is achieved, be sure to also share your culture success with everyone. This will serve as continuous encouragement and a guide to wayward staff, even as the entire organization drives towards the same goals.
6. Evaluate Outcomes
At the end of the day, you want to know if your culture initiatives were successful. Where do you need to make improvements? What is working and what isn’t? What can you change in your strategy to get better results? Did you notice any improvement or increase in the levels of your employees’ sense of belonging?
You want to also keep in mind that because of diversity, what makes an employee feel included in the organization may be different from what gives another employee a deep sense of belonging. So, using the right yardstick or correct evaluation metrics to measure how successful you’ve been at fostering a culture of belonging is also important.
Ready to Create an Inclusive Culture of Belonging, But Not Sure Where to Start?
Sometimes, the whole process can be overwhelming, and without experience in managing employee expectations and behaviors, it may be very difficult to foster an inclusive culture of belonging in the workplace. But with the right support and team in charge of this process for your organization, it is way easier. This is why FIC Human Resource Partners designed the NUANCE approach to help your organization to foster an inclusive culture of belonging that aligns with your larger organizational culture values.
Want to learn more? Feel free to reach out, and we’ll happily walk you through how your organization can leverage our Nuance Culture Consulting™ service to build a successful culture of belonging that allows your employees to succeed and your company to thrive.
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