What Is Inclusion And Engagement? (And What It Means For Your Business)

n business there is one truth that we all share:

People matter.

It doesn’t matter who they are, where they’re from, the language they speak or the barriers they have. What makes your business unique is the people that interact with it.

From the front desk, to the cleaning staff, to the bigwigs in their corner offices and all the people in between. Everybody is important and has something valuable to offer.

But, in the midst of daily business life, it’s easy to forget all of this. To lose sight of just how important those people are. Which often means that:

  • Employees get left behind
  • Morale drops
  • Performance suffers

And your business as a whole begins to suffer. The worst part of it?

You might not even be aware that it’s happening.

In the article, I want to discuss the two most powerful ways you can prevent this from happening. What they are, how you can use them, and what they mean for your business.

Enter Inclusion and Engagement…

But First, A Quick (Lonely) Thought…

You might be thinking, “My offices are an inclusive place, everybody get’s along fine”. And that may well be; but not all of the problems of disengagement are visible.

For example, did you know that more than 40% of employee’s suffer from loneliness at work, and claim to not even have one single friend in the workplace?

Imagine that, two out of every five employee’s in your workplace doesn’t have a single friend sat around them. Quite a sorry statistic, right?

Or take this study done on workers from LGBT communities, who found themselves to be less productive and effective at work because they were scared of coming out to their employers.

Thankfully, no matter the barrier, Inclusion and Engagement can provide a solution.

What Is Inclusion?

In a nutshell:

Inclusion is valuing others.

It means that you should not only value what other people can do, but it means you should value other people’s differences, too.

And this goes beyond just something the HR team should be doing. Instead, this should be a mentality – or culture – in your workplace that everyone shares.

Not only is valuing these differences great on a human level, it’s great on a business level too. While the results may not be immediate, there’s evidence to show that valuing this diversity can have a positive impact on your outcomes and KPI’s.

One of the real problems here is that, as the Huffington Post recently pointed out – there is a lot of talking, but little doing. Mostly because the results are not always immediate in the profit column.

This doesn’t always come from a place of neglect, though.

In my own experience I’ve found that sometimes the biggest barrier to inclusion of your staff is not actually understanding how to start doing it – which we’ll talk about in a minute.

But for now I think we can all agree that however you go about it, a happier, cohesive workforce that cares about each other (and feels safe in their jobs) can only go on to do great things.

What Is Engagement?

To give it a similar sound byte:

Engagement is involving others.

This is where the ‘no man left behind’ concept really begins to come into its own. Because engagement isn’t just giving people tasks, it’s:

  • Having open communication at all levels
  • Providing opportunities for progression
  • A sense of community
  • Encouraging and valuing people

In fact, when the Feedback Company Questback looked at why people planned to quit their jobs in 2015, they found some interesting data:

  • 59% wanted to leave because of lack of progression
  • 30% of people want to leave because of poor management
  • 27% of people wanted more training and development opportunities

So not only is engagement important for the happiness of the staff you’ve got, it’s essential if you want to keep the quality staff you already have in place.

A great example of this in action is the American company, Next Jump, who have implemented a No Fire policy. So that if someone is struggling, stuck or failing, they’re given the opportunities and coaching to be able to perform – and not feel under risk of losing their job.

90% of their employees say that love their jobs. That’s right, not like but downright love their jobs. And they were recently hailed by Inc.com as “The most successful company you’ve never heard of”.

It just goes to show that your employees are crying out for relationships, opportunities and clear communication. So when you’re looking at your own engagement strategies, you need to be sure you’re providing at least those.

The Solution Is Proactive, Not Reactive

Inclusion and Engagement can sound a little bit, well…new age.

It’s not something that resonates well with the old school, and is often just a nagging thought in the background.

But, if you want your business to compete in the future of business, Inclusion and Engagement are no longer just nice to have; they’re a need to have.

Most businesses though – as we’ve found with launching our new Embrace product – wait until inclusion and engagement becomes a problem in the workplace.

But, inclusion and engagement should be treated more like cleaning your teeth:

You should do it every day to prevent problems from happening, instead of starting as soon as you’ve got a cavity (or a problem).

Because even by simply starting to change your culture of inclusion and engagement, you can see a big turnaround in your business:

  • Improved morale: People will be happier in their jobs.
  • Stronger teams: When everyone values each other, they work better together.
  • Employee retention: When they feel a part of your organisation, they’ll stay.
  • More productivity: Your employee’s will have more mental energy to focus on their work that’s not being spent on worrying.
  • Better innovation: When people feel safe and valued, they’re more creative and happier to take risks.

The only questions that’s left, then, is what’s the first step you’re going to take?

If you want to know more about how to make that change, why not take a look at what our Embrace program can do for you.

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