Using DEI to Increase Workplace Productivity
Feeling a sense of belonging in the workplace can have a significant impact on employee productivity and satisfaction. When employees feel like they are valued and included in the company culture, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.
On the other hand, when employees feel isolated or excluded, it can lead to decreased productivity and can even have negative impacts on their physical and mental health. By taking steps to foster a sense of belonging through creating an inclusive work environment, companies can not only improve employee well-being but also boost productivity and overall business success. Implementing a tailored and strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative in the workplace is an effective way to accomplish this.
Why Is DEI Critical in the Workforce?
When a company designs a DEI strategy, the goal of implementing it is to integrate the principles of DEI into every facet of their business. By doing so, you’re creating an opportunity for diversity to support your business outcomes. The principles of DEI are there to ensure your employees feel that they can come to work and bring their authentic self to do their best work. These same principles are also used to govern a healthy working atmosphere where managers lead and value their employees in an inclusive way. When a DEI strategy is consistently upheld by leadership, it demonstrates to every employee that the company values the different backgrounds of their employees and are making an effort to foster this positive working environment.
How an Effective DEI Strategy Creates Trust and Psychological Safety Among Colleagues
An effective DEI strategy can create trust and psychological safety among colleagues by promoting a sense of belonging and respect for all individuals within the workplace. When your employees feel included in the company culture, it enables and encourages them to see how their efforts contribute to the organization’s goals. This in turn means they are more likely to trust their colleagues and feel comfortable sharing their ideas and experiences. Over time as they build trust and psychological safety in the workplace, they build an intrinsic emotion that allows people to feel like their work and ideas are being “heard”, and their contributions are being implemented. At this point, the entire workforce tends to shift into a more collaborative and open work environment where everyone feels like their contributions are valued.
How Strategic DEI in the Workplace Also Helps Workers Feel Valued and Perform at Peak Efficiency
Among several other factors, employee performance can be linked directly to the trust that is developed between employees and leadership and the intrinsic feeling of belonging overtime. When employees feel like they are included and respected within the company culture, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Often, this will lead to higher levels of productivity and overall job satisfaction.
Why Is It Needed Today?
DEI in the workforce has always been necessary, but given the current climate, DEI is more critical than ever. The events over the past few years have highlighted the ongoing struggles for equity and justice faced by many marginalized communities. By taking steps to promote DEI in the workplace, your company will not only create a more inclusive and equitable environment for employees but will also play a role in creating a more just and equitable society.
Why a DEI Strategy That Creates a Sense of Belonging Attracts Authentic, High-Value Employees
Any organization who has a clear DEI strategy will strongly increase their ability to attract the best talent into their workforce. Strategic DEI helps to create a sense of belonging that can attract authentic, high-value employees as it demonstrates that the company values and respects all individuals, regardless of their background or identity.
In today’s market, attracting high value employees by compensation alone is not enough. High value employees want to know that the organization values people for who they are and are willing to support them as they do their best work. The probability of employing stronger performers who are not necessarily attracted to every high paying position, tends to increase for companies with an active DEI strategy in place. Companies have noticed an increasing number of candidates inquiring about the organization’s commitment towards DEI and the initiatives in place to support marginalized employees.
Having a diverse and inclusive workplace also helps foster a sense of community and connection among your employees. When individuals feel like they are part of a supportive and welcoming team, they are more likely to feel connected and committed to the success of the company. This can lead to increased loyalty and dedication among employees, which is valuable to any company.
What Are Some Steps That Can Be Taken to Contribute Towards a Strong Sense of Belonging?
A strong sense of belonging within the workforce is a bi-product of having certain strategic systems in place and being upheld at every level of leadership. This sentiment cannot be developed overnight, however, there are several steps that your company can take to create a sense of belonging in employees through strategic DEI efforts. Many of the most effective steps will require consistent implementation over an extended period of time before they begin to affect noteworthy improvements. Nonetheless, here are efforts that can contribute towards a sense of belonging in the workplace.
An inclusive leader makes the time to understand who they are managing. This includes taking time to learn about the work that each employee is doing, but more important than their work, an inclusive leader should also begin to learn about each employee as a person, from an identity perspective.
Let’s take for an example a Muslim employee during Ramadan who may require more time for prayer and fasting. An inclusive leader would be able to provide the space for this employee to thrive in their intrinsic value, which may translate to stronger performance in the workplace.
A great place to start this practice is in team meetings. By building in a 10-15 minute inclusion based discussion within your team meetings, you’re presenting an opportunity where your employees can share their experiences related to DEI topics. Overtime, the goal is to have built a space of bravery where people are comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences in these moments of inclusion.
Communicating your company’s commitment to DEI and the importance of belonging for all employees is an important step in creating a sense of belonging for all employees. This could involve:
- The company aims to clarify its stance on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, emphasizing its commitment to creating an inclusive work environment where all employees feel welcome and valued, and its intention to do better in valuing the unique perspectives and experiences of all employees.
- As the company continues to develop its DEI strategy, clearly communicating the DEI goals, the companies progress towards achieving them, and how these goals align with the company’s overall mission and purpose (can be done through townhalls, newsletters, etc)
- Highlighting currently available DEI resources and support the company offers to employees.
Employee resource groups (ERGs) or affinity groups are company organized employee groups who come together based on a shared identity or common interest. When a company organizes an ERG for its employees, often times the group receives support in the form of an executive sponsor, a budget, etc. These groups can be an effective way to provide support and a sense of belonging for employees who belong to underrepresented groups, and they can also be a valuable resource for the company in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
ERGs and affinity groups can provide a supportive space for employees to connect with others who share similar identities or experiences, and they can also serve as a platform for employees to advocate for DEI within the organization. By establishing these groups, a company can help create a more inclusive and welcoming work environment for all employees.
To create a welcoming and inclusive work environment, your company can consider implementing flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible scheduling, and policies that support work-life balance, such as parental leave or generous vacation policies. Additionally, you can also consider offering resources and support to help create a more inclusive culture, such as diversity and inclusion training or the employee resource groups mentioned above.
Holding leadership accountable for creating a culture of belonging and continuously improving DEI efforts within your organization is an important step in building a more inclusive and diverse workplace. This can involve setting clear DEI goals and expectations for leadership, establishing metrics and tracking progress towards those goals, and regularly evaluating and reviewing the effectiveness of DEI initiatives that are overseen by leadership.
Leadership can also be held accountable by involving employees in the DEI process and seeking their input and feedback on DEI initiatives. This can help ensure that DEI efforts are aligned with the needs and concerns of the entire organization. It also provides insight into whether or not leadership is addressing the key areas of concerns for employees.
Incorporating DEI practices into the workplace has great potential to foster the feeling of belonging among employees which often translates to an increase in productivity and success for your company.
The feeling of belonging within the workplace can also improve employee satisfaction and retention, as employees are more likely to stay with a company that values diversity and inclusivity. A positive work culture that is welcoming and supportive of all employees cannot be developed overnight, but having the right systems in place over an extended period of time will certainly contribute towards the increased engagement and motivation we’ve highlighted in this article.
Trust, psychological safety, and the feeling of belonging that is created from an effectively implemented DEI strategy can benefit both individual employees and the company as a whole, leading to a more productive and successful workplace.