We have known for some time about the business case for greater diversity in our workplaces, that it can lead to both greater employee productivity and organizational performance. A crucial part of making the equation work is not only having diversity “on paper,” but also in everyday practice.
The “everyday practice” of diversity means that all employees feel included. As Eric Mosley wrote recently, it means they are “empowered to have a voice, feel respected, have a strong sense of belonging, and are comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.”
Inclusion lives in the social fabric of the organization. It comes from instances when employees appreciate and encourage the unique contributions of others, and likewise when they themselves are appreciated and acknowledged by their peers. It comes from the freedom to participate in full and as yourself.
Inclusion is a relational phenomenon. As a result, it can seem like a challenge for some HR and business leaders to both cultivate and encourage on the path to a more motivated, energized workforce. But there are some straightforward ways that organizations can support inclusion through the daily interactions of their employees.
One core strategy is to build a culture of recognition, where every employee is empowered to recognize their peers, to be on the lookout for diverse examples of performance, and to be recognized for their own unique contributions.
The benefits of social recognition are threefold:
- Strengthening social connections and interactions between employees of different backgrounds and perspectives.
- Creating a deeper connection to the beneficiaries of work accomplishments, whether they are internal stakeholders, external customers, or the broader community.
- Broadly celebrating the diverse way in which those accomplishments help to drive business success.
Social recognition helps create feelings of inclusion by tapping into each of the three basic human needs that we all have.
It creates a sense of connection among co-workers, satisfying the need for relatedness. It acknowledges the meaningfulness and value of the accomplishment, satisfying the need for competence. And it celebrates individual volition and choice in the individually unique ways of aligning to the core values of the organization, satisfying the need for autonomy.
When employees feel that their organization supports inclusion and their basic needs are met, they are free to bring more of their whole selves to work. They are more likely to contribute in more creative and productive ways, and to also experience greater well-being, less stress, and more energy. A culture of recognition supports those positive spirals.
What does your organization to do make sure people feel included?
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.