Betty Ng, co-author of 'PO-LING POWER: Propelling Yourself and Others to Success' shares her tips about holding on to your best members of staff by adopting an inclusive culture.
Some C-suite executives take the view from 30,000 feet, but don’t see everything going on within the many organizational levels below.
It may be time to answer the pressing question they keep asking themselves these days: “Why do some of my best employees keep changing planes?”
Turnover is a concern for many companies – and at many different job levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employees are staying in a job on average for 1.5 years. So retention is becoming a relic.
Why is that? From up high in the organizational stratosphere, an honest look at the entire work atmosphere is necessary. And much of that vibe in the culture starts with how comfortable and engaged – or not – people feel on a daily basis.
In short, do they feel included? Truly valued? Or are those diversity statements just empty pieces of paper?
Much of employee retention – and lack thereof – is tied to the level of inclusion employees feel in the workplace. Studies have established that diversity initiatives can be a driving force in the overall betterment of companies, from financial performance to recruiting and retention. But none of that – especially employee retention – happens at a high rate without inclusivity in the work culture. Diversity is clearly important in terms of demographic representation, but inclusivity walks the walk, going the vital extra steps where everyone has opportunity and voice and thus becomes fully engaged.
Inclusivity is fundamentally about the culture; it’s about how comfortable all employees feel about bringing their whole selves - their authentic selves - to work.
Thus, companies wanting to recruit and retain diverse employees need to create a culture of inclusion, which needs to start at the top and be woven into the day-to-day operations. If you don’t retain most of your top employees, and you lost them because they lost faith in your program or never could build trust in it, then the mathematical increases you make in diversity numbers don’t carry the same weight.
How can companies achieve real inclusivity? First, companies need to get back to the basics. Many businesses struggle with retaining good talent, a critical driver for profitability and sustainability. The core of the issue? Employees leave because they don't feel supported in achieving goals aligned with their personal – as well as organizational – visions.
Studies such as one by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative reflect the need for inclusion relative to millennials. After all, millennials will comprise nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. The study found millennials put a premium on inclusion, examples of which to them are when leaders and the culture promote a collaborative environment and recognize all employees for their unique value. The problems come, the study said, when managers and upper-level executives don’t allow millennials to express freely.
So, what needs to happen? It's about making a fundamental shift in company culture to one that is truly inclusive, collaborative, and high-performing. There are practical solutions to facilitate employee collaboration in order to achieve goals that matter for both themselves and their organizations. This is what my company Inspiring Diversity (iD) has focused on developing to help make tangible traction in building inclusive, collaborative, and high-performing organizations and communities.
C-suite executives and managers at each level can consider myriad ways to establish and sustain inclusivity. Some examples: Give all team members a chance to be heard; take time to get to know your team; spread out the cherished opportunities so as to convey a sense of real, equal opportunity; help diverse team members find their way on the company roadmap; and leverage technology to help facilitate day-to-day engagement, collaboration, development, and success of your employees.
The bottom line: companies with inclusive cultures have lower turnover and are more attractive to clients. This leads to higher profits and sustainability.
In my book PO-LING POWER, I connect employee retention in a “Virtuous Cycle,” starting with an inclusive community. That, in turn, leads to employee engagement, employee success and development, organizational success and increased diversity. Ultimately, real inclusion means more employee retention and enhanced recruiting, as word gets out that the company walks the walk. The PO-LING POWER framework provides a tool to keep everyone focused on what matters for both the individual and organization.
By helping to foster an environment where everyone helps each other to achieve goals aligned with personal vision – i.e., each person’s authentic self – as well as organizational objectives, an organization can build a genuinely inclusive community that will better attract and retain diverse talent.
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