For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to define an ‘office of inclusion’ as a place where employees feel like their ideas, background, and identity are respected. This feeling provides employees with a sense of comfort and safety which is critical when boosting a company’s recruitment and retention.
Make Sure Your Company is Inclusive of all Backgrounds
There are a ton of backgrounds and identities that need to be respected in a true office of inclusion. People of all sexes, races, nationalities, political affiliation, etc. should all feel comfortable working for your company. Ways you can do this include:
- Having both male and female interviewers present when hiring
- An open-door policy with senior management to safely report harassment
- Make your holiday party welcoming for all creeds
- Work with HR to draft a comprehensive hiring policy that promotes employee diversity
- Ensuring that it isn’t only the women in an office who do things like plan parties, fetch coffee, get copies, answer the phone, organize potlucks, etc.
Ask for Ideas and Input from People who Work at all Levels of Your Company
Workplaces respecting diversity of background and identity is important for recruitment and retention, but it is just as important to respect diversity of thought. Some of the best ideas for how to improve your company and its products/services will come from the people on the front lines who are most familiar with the reality of them – your employees. When people know they are listened to and their ideas matter, they feel included and most loyal to your company.
Special note – this only works if the employee that comes up with an amazing idea gets credit for the idea and is rewarded for it. If you ask for idea from employees, but they know that those ideas will either be stolen or unrewarded, they’ll feel less included and involved than before.
Watch Out for Subtle Exclusion of Employees
Just as it’s important to get policies on paper to make sure employees are included, it’s crucial to monitor office culture for the same thing. For example, when you send out information about a great training course, are you sending it to both qualified men and women?
Do your female employees who have had children get ‘mommy tracked’ and are given less opportunity or even end up being demoted despite strong performance?
Have you ever looked the other way at a subtle joke about race your employee made?
Are your informal employee networking gatherings at places that might make some demographics uncomfortable or excluded such as a ‘gentleman’s club’?
These are the kind of questions you should be asking when thinking about recruitment and retention and deciding what kind of company you want to run. Consider preparing a series of
Connect with your employees as people
Making an employee feel included is making them feel heard, valued, respected, and safe. They should feel like work is a place they come where their ideas will matter and their background is not just tolerated but warmly embraced. The single best inclusion-based recruitment and retention booster you can have is genuinely finding a way to care about each of your employees as individuals. Take it from one employee who has had both the best and the worst bosses in the world, when you include caring about an employee on a real level in your company culture, they’re yours forever.