05th October 2023
Brand and Belonging: The Significance of Workplace Culture in Retention
Corine Sheratte discusses the crucial link between positive workplace cultures and a sense of belonging among employees, emphasizing that diversity efforts alone are insufficient for retention if employees do not feel valued and welcome. Toxic workplace cultures are highlighted as detrimental to retention. The power of an employee’s sense of belonging and inclusion is emphasized in sustaining a competitive advantage for organizations. The article emphasizes the importance of inclusion and belonging, provides best practices to foster such a culture, including measuring impact, supportive practices, inclusive language, and effective feedback. Ultimately, it suggests that organizations need to prioritize a culture of inclusion and belonging to fully realize the benefits of diversity efforts.
What is the connection between positive workplace cultures and belonging? Corine Sheratte explains why improving diversity in recruitment will be fruitless if actions aren’t taken to make employees feel valued and welcome.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace has become a polarising topic. Organisations increasingly make headline news, often unwillingly dragged into the limelight due to damning insider allegations of toxic working cultures.
For example, we recently saw a number of ITV’s This Morning employees cite “bullying, discrimination, and harassment”, following former host Phillip Schofield’s high-profile exit from the show.
There are countless other examples: take X (formerly known as Twitter) where staff urged candidates to “stay away from Twitter 2.0” in anonymous employee reviews due to a toxic culture under Elon Musk; or Amazon, where workers staged a protest over pay and a toxic working environment in their warehouses earlier this year.
We also saw the outcome of a landmark external review which lifted the lid on EY’s culture of “bullying, racism and overwork”, with almost two in five staff considering quitting the firm in 2023.
In a competitive labour market, relying on a strong external branding team is not enough. According to Glassdoor, 78% of employees expect employers to be authentically inclusive.
Potential candidates proactively seek current and former employee opinions for an honest picture of the employee experience of the culture, often before choosing to apply for a role. It is therefore the power of an employee’s sense of belonging and inclusion in the workplace that helps employers sustain competitive advantage.
Whilst establishing, regulating, and tracking diversity targets is a good way of increasing accountability towards the DEI agenda, these targets are often partly to blame for the fixation that leaders typically have on diverse recruitment.
Investing in fair hiring practices is insufficient to prevent the revolving door of diverse talent, where diverse hires enter the workplace and then quickly exit upon finding themselves in a marginalised and hostile working culture, and where challenging the status quo and expressing their authentic selves is silently unacceptable. So what can organisations do to protect against this?
Inclusion and belonging
Let’s start by defining these two concepts. Inclusion refers to listening, respecting, and adapting to the opinions of all employees equally. It means valuing every employee’s skills, contributions, and perspectives and enabling them to challenge the status quo through systems, practices, and behaviours.
Belonging refers to the feeling of security and support when there is a feeling of acceptance and inclusion. It is an unwritten sense of empowerment to speak up freely without fear of career repercussions.
A culture of inclusion and belonging is no longer a nice to have – it is a necessity in order to retain diverse talent in the workplace and ensure that DEI becomes business as usual rather than a side of desk activity that gets lost in the bustle of busy working life.
And no – bake sales, ping-pong tables, meditation and free yoga classes are not good enough.
Ultimately, if a parent feels that they can’t be trusted to leave an hour early to pick up their children for fear that their work commitment will be questioned, or if a disabled colleague doesn’t feel confident enough to request a reasonable adjustment for fear of being seen as a nuisance, these employees will quickly look for an organisation that proactively provides the equitable treatment they need in order to carry out their roles productively.
Building a culture of belonging
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