5 Steps Toward a More Inclusive Office Culture
These days, more and more companies are looking to create diverse office cultures that lead to better teams. Here are some ways you can build a more inclusive work environment.
Remain open to different needs. We all have different backgrounds, needs and challenges. Unfortunately, traditional office policies don't always take these aspects into consideration. Try to take a flexible approach at your office by considering the individual needs of every worker. Do you offer maternity leave? Are your workers allowed to take off for cultural holidays? Have you considered ways to reduce the challenges of your handicapped employees? Make sure you take steps to create flexible office policies that won't serve some of your workers and alienate others.
Get to know your employees. It's almost impossible to create an inclusive office culture if you don't know your employees well. Take some time to get deeper insight into each worker's life and background. Maintain an open-door policy and invite staffers to participate in team-building exercises. This can help you avoid mistakes that overlook a person's history or current situation. It will also make your employees feel more valued.
Set clear guidelines. Inclusive office culture demands professionalism. There's no room for off-color jokes that might inadvertently offend someone. Create and enforce rules about behavior, and set guidelines about certain types of discussions. We all have opinions about politics, lifestyles and social issues; however, these topics tend to alienate and divide. It's ok to demand that the office be a place of respect and work. Make sure your employees don't hamstring your efforts to cultivate office diversity by speaking about issues that aren't relevant or appropriate for the workplace.
Offer remote work. At first glance, telecommuting might seem like something that would hamper office inclusion. In reality, however, it can be a good way to include workers that might have disabilities or health issues that keep them from keeping a regular work schedule. What's more, studies suggest that businesses enjoy powerful benefits when they allow staffers to work remotely at least part of the time. Just make sure to take a few smart measures to cultivate an effective culture for your remote workers, so they will stay productive and feel like part of the team.
Focus on families. Modern companies are beginning to understand that people require increased flexibility to establish a healthy work-life balance. In response, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and other major brands have begun offering generous family leave policies. Many other businesses are now also offering paid paternity leave. Other companies have established so-called "take what you need" vacation policies, designed for the "The Sandwich Generation," which includes workers who are caring for young children and aging parents. While you may not be able to afford these types of measures, you should do your best to create flexible work environments that allow your workers to meet their responsibilities as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons.