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10 tips for creating sense of belonging in the workplace

As an employer, driving diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) are important. What's your top tip for helping employees to feel secure, accepted, and supported? 

To help employees feel a sense of belonging at work, we asked HR and business professionals this question for their insights. From having open communication to implementing diversity training, here are several things you can incorporate to drive diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts in the workplace.

Here are 10 tips for nurturing an inclusive and diverse workplace:

  1. Have open communication
  2. Welcome interest groups
  3. Empower employees
  4. Implement diversity training
  5. Do the internal work
  6. Use inclusive language
  7. Make your tech stack accessible
  8. Prioritize connection
  9. Get leadership on board
  10. Avoid micromanagement

1. Have open communication

Creating an open dialogue, I think, is going to be the best asset in building an environment that helps employees feel secure, accepted, and supported. Hard conversations will come up when you create this kind of dialogue, either through anonymous feedback and forums or by creating such a space in meetings. 

Allowing your employees to respectfully bring up any issues can help address problems that they're noticing in the company structure or culture. It can help you to actively draw up solutions (rather than just issuing apologies) and support stronger leadership and teams. 

Rather than brushing the issue under the rug, you and your team will be tackling them head-on to create an inclusive company culture. Show you care and are grateful that your employees are working for you by doing the hard work to keep them there. 

David Wachs, Handwrytten

2. Welcome interest groups

As a remote digital marketing agency, we work to find ways to keep our work fresh and thrilling while embracing each team member’s uniqueness (both important core values around here). After talking about mindfulness practices during many morning meetings, we decided to start a group meditation practice. Twice a week, anyone could log onto a cameras-off Zoom meeting and join a short guided meditation. And for those not interested in meditation, we have various Slack channels to help everyone feel connected in a way that suits them, from a channel for interns only to a weekly trivia challenge. 

Meryl Schulte, Markitors

3. Empower employees

Companies can show a diverse company culture by creating an environment that encourages employees to speak up. Employee empowerment is the key to making this possible. Employees should ideally have no apprehensions in being open with their ideas in a diverse workplace. 

Why? Because workers know they are in a safe space to share ideas without getting a biased reception. 

True company diversity is more than just hiring people in minority groups. A company reaches peak company diversity when it can show its workers they matter to the company, regardless of their differences, personality, race, age, gender, and identity.

Nunzio Ross, Majesty Coffee

4. Implement diversity training

Offering a training program to educate employees on differences such as neurodiversity can promote awareness of the importance of inclusion. Training should be tailored to the employers and their employees so they can address issues specific to them. Leaders should explain to employees the reason for the training so they understand the goals and are encouraged to participate.

Michael Hennessy, Diathrive

5. Do the internal work

Slowing down is important. It starts with leaders looking inward — listening to themselves, their own biases, and questioning their assumptions and reactions. Then they can turn to their employees, opening space for challenging conversations and listening with empathy and understanding. It requires everyone doing the internal work to be able to foster an environment of support.

Nicholas Vasiliou, BioHealth Nutrition

6. Use inclusive language

Since language expresses our ideas and approaches, inclusive language is the best way to ensure a safe, supportive environment. To learn it effectively, I suggest you check the Diversity Style Guide for terms you wish to use. This guide provides over 700 definitions and tips on using words related to disability, ethnicity or gender identity correctly.

Tomasz Młodzki, PhotoAiD

7. Make your tech stack accessible

Outdated software, such as conferencing or email tools, can alienate employees with disabilities. You can avoid this problem by auditing your tech stack and choosing software that supports assistive devices like refreshable braille displays and screen readers. 

Also, look for built-in accessibility features like live captioning, keyboard accessibility, and resizable text. Finally, consider implementing a policy for creating accessible internal content. Tools like ReachDeck can help you ensure that your content is equally accessible to all employees.

Chloe Brittain, Opal Transcription Services

8. Prioritize connection

In order to help employees feel secure, accepted, and supported, leaders must budget time to get to know their team members — to really connect with them. Employees who have strong, trusting relationships feel secure. Employees who can share their insecurities with their leader will feel accepted, and employees whose leader is there to work with them through tough and touchy topics feel supported. 

Connect with your employees to get them to open up to you, and then stay the course (although it can be tough!) when employees have concerns or issues and help them find solutions that leave them feeling respected and supported.

Niki Ramirez, HRAnswers.org

9. Get leadership on board

The best tip for fast-tracking workplace diversity, equality, and inclusion is to get leadership on board. Company culture tends to flow from the top down. When managers preach and prioritize building a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees and model this behavior for staff, team members are likely to follow suit. 

Beyond acting as an ally for underrepresented groups, leaders should strive to support all employees. Diverse team members may not necessarily want to be treated differently or set apart from the rest of the team. Managers and executives who take the time to reach out and welcome employees, learn about team members and develop warm relationships make the staff feel safe and valued and cultivate a sense of belonging. 

When employees feel that bosses genuinely care about them, staff feels more comfortable speaking up against injustice, meaning that leaders can identify and eliminate barriers to inclusion quickly and more effectively.

Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding

10. Avoid micromanagement

Stop trying to micromanage your employees if you want them to feel accepted and build trust. Micromanaging has the power to destroy relationships and cause good employees to leave. You hired each of your employees because you felt that they were specifically qualified for their positions, so allow them the ability to work with some autonomy. 

You can support them without being a helicopter boss. Demonstrate that you are available to help when they need it, but allow employees the opportunity to overcome issues on their own before they ask for help.

Eymel Daniel, ForChics

At Texthelp we have a range of tools to help you create an inclusive workplace. Read&Write gives your employees tools to support their diverse needs. ReachDeck helps you to create content that everyone of your employees can understand. Learn more about us and how we can help.

Coming up: Conscious disability inclusion strategies for DE&I and HR leaders

Did you know that over 1 in 3 people show unconscious bias against people with disabilities (including neurodiversities)?

In our upcoming webinar we’ll be joined by DE&I experts at Next Plc, Cundall and Adjust Services to discuss how organizations can combat this exclusion. Join us on 4 November at 1pm. Gain practical strategies to help you tackle unconscious bias and foster conscious inclusion.

logos Next, Cundall and Adjust on a dark background

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