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5 ways to build a positive and inclusive workplace culture

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

March is Women’s History Month, and the perfect time to re-evaluate and prioritise building a workplace culture that is positive and inclusive.

In tough economic times, having a positive, inclusive work environment is crucial to an organisation’s success. After all, high employee satisfaction, as well as being able to keep experienced and productive staff, helps improve morale and maintain organisational stability.

Research by Deloitte shows that 94% of executives believe a distinct corporate culture is vital to business success, and when a company has one, 84% of employees say they are happy at work. This is the year that employers should prioritise creating a positive, inclusive culture for all.

Emily Miller, VP EMEA at Workhuman

In this piece, Emily Miller, VP EMEA at Workhuman, takes a look at how to go about building a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

Emily is an experienced leader with a track record of overachieving revenue targets and leading high-performing teams within the technology and professional services industry. She has built and directed teams to success across a wide range of products, channels, and regions, launching, integrating, and scaling businesses to achieve healthy growth.

THE BENEFITS OF A POSITIVE, INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE CULTURE

For one thing, an organisation’s work environment has a significant impact on hiring and retention. Unsurprisingly, employees prefer to work for companies with positive workplace cultures, with nearly one-third of Gen Z employees choosing to work for employers who prioritise and actively promote inclusion. Women leaders are also more than 1.5 times as likely as men to leave their job for a company that prioritises diversity and inclusion.

What is more, Workhuman iQ research found that the higher an employee rates their company culture, the lower the chances they will leave the organisation. Employees are also more than 2x as likely to recommend a friend to their organisation when they agree that the work there has meaning and purpose. Further, Gallup and Workhuman research found that when recognition forms part of a company culture, employees are 56% less likely to be looking or watching for job opportunities.

Positive work environments that foster a sense of inclusion and belonging are also more likely to attract and retain diverse employees. Many industries, including STEM fields, have a disproportionate ratio of men to women employees, with fewer progression opportunities for women. Women, therefore, may be more inclined to work for organisations that are known for diversity and gender inclusivity. Organisations that have built a positive brand identity are the most attractive to top talent.

Employees are also likely to be more engaged in a positive culture. If an organisation has a positive culture in which employees are recognised for the unique perspectives they bring to the table and are appreciated for the hard work they do, engagement will thrive. Gallup and Workhuman’s research found that when recognition hits the mark, employees are 4x as likely to be engaged, while employers that prioritise psychological safety, in which employees feel safe to bring their whole, authentic selves to work without fear of negative consequences, see a 12% increase in productivity. There are also huge business impacts of having a positive culture of recognition, equating to savings of over £12 million a year in employee turnover costs for large enterprises.

FIVE STEPS TO BUILDING A POSITIVE, INCLUSIVE CULTURE

Here are five key steps to building a positive, inclusive culture where employees can thrive:

  1. Evaluate current practices. The first step any organisation should take to implement a positive change to its work culture is to evaluate its current practices. Is the work culture inclusive? Do employees feel supported? Are they being recognised for all they offer to the company? Based on this analysis, employers may need to redefine their goals and values, and redesign their practices to focus on positivity and inclusivity.
  2. Review the hiring process. Inclusion and positivity begin with the hiring process. Workplaces must ensure they treat their employees fairly and evaluate them solely based on their performance – and this attitude must be present in the recruitment process, with no applicant treated unfairly or viewed with a bias. Hiring practices should focus on understanding applicants’ individual needs and working with them rather than against them.
  3. Set an example. Leaders should always ensure that their own actions align with the company’s goals, beliefs, and behaviours. This can include taking the time to recognise employees for their hard work and using inclusive language. It also means communicating with employees clearly and openly, and being prepared to offer and receive regular, authentic feedback.
  4. Offer personalised development opportunities. Organisations should take an interest in their employees’ growth and offer personalised development opportunities for learning. Employee resource groups can, in particular, build a culture of inclusion and help underrepresented groups flourish at work. Mentorship programmes and ‘returnships’ – which are dedicated to helping people return to work after a career break – help employees feel more confident and positive about their work. Employees that feel their organisation is taking an interest in their development prefer to stay rather than look for other opportunities.
  5. Make employee recognition an essential part of organisational culture. Recognition should be a regular part of the company culture as it is vital to helping employees feel positive and included. In addition to showing appreciation for employees’ contributions at work, recognition can involve celebrating their personal life achievements, such as an anniversary or the birth of a child. Research by Workhuman shows that, aside from pay, feeling appreciated and rewarded for their work was the top motivator (62%) for staying with a company, surpassing other options including flexible hours, additional holidays, or perks such as gym memberships and free lunches.

STRIVE FOR SUCCESS WITH A POSITIVE, INCLUSIVE CULTURE

In a positive, inclusive work environment, employees are frequently recognised for the work they do. People feel valued and have a sense of belonging – leading them to feel more engaged, eager to excel, and enthusiastic about contributing to the company.

Given all of its benefits, it is clear that putting in the time and effort needed to create a positive, inclusive workplace culture will make a big difference to employee wellbeing – and it is also a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month.

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