Cultural and generation differences are on the rise in any diverse workplace. This presents new challenges and opportunities for employers across the country. While most companies express enthusiasm about the current multicultural and multigenerational workforce, it is undeniable that many struggle to build cultural connectivity in the face of this diversity. However, there are countless benefits to be gained by cultivating integration and inclusion for all employees.
When workers are seen, heard, and appreciated they feel more confident, satisfied, and motivated. And, contrary to arcane beliefs your best employees do not leave their boss, they leave toxic or lackluster cultures.
So, how can you promote connection in your diverse workplace?
It’s all about communication as vibrant and robust as an organizational culture that is closely aligned to the company vision.
- Create a Culture of Engagement
In a diverse workplace, it can be tempting to allow generalizations, stereotypes, and statistics to shape our perceptions of colleagues. To discourage workplace assumptions about others based on their gender, cultural background, or generation, it is best to provide opportunities for personal engagement between individuals. This can be achieved through social events at work and team building activities, but most importantly, by encouraging a culture of regular engagement. Lead the way by asking others about their personal interests, sharing relatable jokes, or simply asking how your co-worker’s day is going. These simple inquires can go a long way in connecting diverse populations.
- Create a Culture of Appreciation
Everyone understands the language of appreciation. Regardless of age, gender, or cultural background, appreciation is universally welcomed and can take many forms. Most offices have systems in place to express appreciation for stellar achievements and progress. However, creating a culture of appreciation is about more than just awarding top-performing employees— it’s about opening channels for regular lateral and vertical expressions of appreciation. This can take the form of appreciation boards, seasonal bonuses, or a staff appreciation week. As the adage goes, “A person who feels appreciated will do more than what is expected.” So, appreciation in the workplace serves the purposes of both connectivity and productivity.
- Create a Culture of Gracious Assumptions
When working as a team of diverse individuals, it is only a matter of time before one person rubs another the wrong way. Whether it be due to someone’s tone of voice in a meeting, a team member failing to meet a deadline, or a disparity in cultural expectations; conflict is bound to arise. This is where a culture of gracious assumptions can breed connection where division could arise. Make it the norm in your workplace to assume the best of colleagues when things don’t go as planned. Instead of a culture of blame (aka-human nature), encourage employees to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to ask questions, and perhaps to offer help. These approaches lead to a deeper understanding of cultural dynamics and stronger team work in the future.
These are just a few recommendations for building a vibrant and engaged employee culture that serves the needs of today’s diverse workforce. In addition to these suggestions, consider inquiring within your own walls for further insight and inspiration specific to your workplace.
What are some unique approaches that your workplace has taken to create a thriving culture?
Please share your experiences and perspective in the comments.
Dorothy Patrick is the founder and CEO of SPARX International™, a firm that drives profits by providing organizations with ideas, products and services that improve culture, communications and employee engagement; specializing in the leadership development and cultural integration for growing companies. Dorothy’s passion to develop successful organizations and teams is reflected in her legacy as a corporate executive with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, UBS Financial and IFCO International.
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