10 min read
This article has been translated from our English edition.
The opinions of the employees of You are personal.
- In our time, more and more people experience stress, unhappiness and fear in the workplace.
The combination of the health crisis, political elections, and widespread racial differences has left many people nervous at work. It turns out that 53% of adults experience higher levels of stress and worry due to current events. It is easy to blame the various global phenomena that are occurring right now, but stress and anxiety problems in the workplace are nothing new, especially among women, black people and other marginalized groups.
Racial minorities and women have suffered from stress, anxiety and isolation in the workplace for years. One study found that black and Hispanic workers felt more lonely and emotionally distant than their white workers. Another study found that black women often feel unsafe about expressing vulnerability and authenticity in the workplace for fear of discrimination. The same generally applies to women in the workplace. This study showed that women in the workplace are more than twice as likely to experience stress and anxiety as men.
So take a dose of pre-existing fears and then add a big 2020 help. It’s easy to see how color and minority workers in their respective industries strive to look good, feel good, and be productive at work.
The problem is: Unsatisfied staff leads to unsatisfied bottom line.
Stressed employees are not good for entrepreneurs
The more support, appreciation and understanding your employees feel, the more they can make a positive contribution to your business. A lack of inclusion and compassion in the work environment can affect your company’s pride, productivity and finances for years to come.
As the New Year approaches, you can have strategic planning meetings with your leadership team. And that’s great. However, think about how maintaining a more inclusive and compassionate workplace can have a positive impact on your company’s success for the next year.
Here are 4 steps you can take to create a compassionate and inclusive workplace in 2021.
1. Add regular meetings between managers and employees
One of the first places your employees should hear, see, and voice their concerns is your manager. It’s an important link between growing your business and employee productivity.
Consider setting up one-on-one meetings between managers and employees that encourage authentic communication. This is the time for the manager to develop a real and honest relationship with the employee and get a sense of their personal status.
Meetings are not the time to talk about what the employee is doing wrong or how they have fallen behind in their duties. These should address personal issues related to family, friends, health, and hobbies. These conversations communicate interests, build trust, and ultimately generate feelings of support and compassion.
These meetings also give managers insight into the struggles that keep your employees from presenting themselves fully and authentically in the workplace.
You might discover internal racism within the company, lack of support for women, microaggression, or even subtle acts of exclusion that your color employees have experienced.
Think of these controls as internal audits of your company’s inclusion practices and the wellbeing of your employees. The more you adjust to your workforce’s struggles, the more opportunities you have to introduce better practices around diversity, inclusion, and equity that will benefit your corporate culture going forward.
2. Review the benefits of the employee benefit program
Does your company offer benefits that promote diversity, work-life balance, or mental health services? If not, consider how offering an employee assistance program (EAP) can improve the wellbeing of your employees for the next year.
Some companies have had PADs for years. Some EAPs include free psychological counseling, career counseling, diversity training, or substance abuse support. If you haven’t looked at your EAP in a long time, this should be considered in your next strategic planning meetings.
2020 presents new challenges for your employees in terms of financial stability, interpersonal relationships and mental health. Now is the time to support your team with relevant and meaningful services during this critical time.
If your company doesn’t currently offer an EAP that specifically supports people of skin color, women, and other minority groups in the workplace, providing one could be an important step in increasing productivity and empathy in the workplace.
Consider if your EAP program offers mental health services and see how many colored or queer therapists are available to your staff.
In 2013, 83.6% of psychologists were white. Are you wondering, are your employees fully represented with their therapist options? If not, consider adapting your service providers to include more diverse therapists and other health professionals to meet the specific needs of your employees.
Times are stressful and your employees may suffer from fears that will affect the growth and success of your business. Updating or creating an EAP that responds to modern workplace problems is a smart step in creating a more inclusive and compassionate workspace.
3. Be a more vulnerable leader with your employees
The best leaders are those who can show a sense of humanity and strength at the same time. If you are brave enough to share your thoughts, feelings and worries in the workplace, your employees may feel brave enough to follow in your footsteps.
What happens when you are vulnerable because you feel stressed, anxious, or insecure is that you give permission to others to do the same.
Imagine the people of skin color, women and minorities in your company. You may already be feeling uncomfortable or unable to express yourself authentically in the workplace. Perhaps they would benefit if you model empathy and compassion in your company.
As a leader, when you can open the doors to authentic communication, it can lead to greater compassion, inclusion, and potential productivity. Brave and vulnerable conversations are exactly what we should be having in 2021.
4. Create more flexible work areas and working hours
It can be difficult to show up at work when stress, anxiety, and other pressures persist in your employee’s personal life. Some companies have recognized the stress of their employees and updated their workspace and operating hours accordingly. Some others are experimenting with completely remote workstations while others are doing a combination.
One of my clients is experimenting with a mixed remote and face-to-face workspace. They started a new practice: completely secluded on Fridays. Employees are still expected to come to work 4 days a week, but on Fridays they work remotely. These are guidelines and practices that can meaningfully support mental health and employee involvement.
Mixed remote and face-to-face workspaces can meet the needs of all employees by providing interpersonal benefits and mental health breaks. Inclusive workspaces can choose to attend face-to-face meetings or not to take care of their mental wellbeing, while employees who need more personal contact with their co-workers have the option to connect with other team members on a few days a week .
As your business enters the new year, you should maintain a more flexible workspace and hours to create a happier and more inclusive work environment.
Your work starts now
Your efforts to foster compassion and inclusion in your business don’t end after reading this article.
These are practical steps you can take to start the process of enhancing inclusion and compassion in your company. Note, however, that these steps will only work if the majority of your team has joined the transformation. From HR to the executive team, everyone should work to create more space for authentic communication, flexibility, and compassion. You can start planting the seeds in the leadership team and continue the planning and implementation process through 2021.
These changes can create new opportunities in your business so that inclusion, diversity and equity can flourish like never before.