It is increasingly the case that the strength of your company culture directly influences the success of your enterprise.
A positive culture can help to impact your turnover rate, with employees more likely to stay with supportive businesses.
Consumers are also savvy about choosing to patronize companies demonstrating cultural practices that provide an excellent experience.
But what is it that makes for strong company culture? Well, it comes down to a combination of elements. One of the primary contributing factors is a welcoming approach.
Your culture needs to be inclusive to all people who interact with it, regardless of their race, gender, cultural heritage, or indeed any other factor.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the elements that can help you to make your company culture more welcoming to everyone.
Diversify Your Workforce
You must make sure your company doesn’t perpetuate a monoculture. It’s certainly no secret that a diverse employee base can add significant value to your organization. A workforce featuring individuals from traditionally marginalized groups has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Having talent from various cultural, socioeconomic, and ethnic backgrounds means you have employees that approach their tasks from different perspectives, have the potential to innovate, and make connections with a wider range of customers.
Utilizing diversity to create a truly welcoming and inclusive culture begins by looking at the makeup of your organization. It is not just the entry-level staff that need to be represented. You need to have diversity across all levels of leadership and influence, including at the executive level for this cultural benefit to take hold. Human resources (HR) professionals, therefore, need to look at how suited the hiring practices are to attracting and locating a diverse range of candidates.
This can include reexamining your company’s approach to outreach. The content of your job ads may be unwittingly discouraging a more diverse candidate pool. The language you use may be geared toward a narrow demographic.
Even aspects like demands for candidates with university degrees may be excluding talented leaders from different socioeconomic backgrounds. You don’t need to be subtle about this either. Make it clear you’re actively seeking to recruit more underrepresented people at all levels of seniority. Talk about why you’re doing this on your company blog and post about it on your social media channels.
Consider Your Environment
It might seem simple, but the surroundings of your business can make a big difference to whether you have a welcoming culture.
This should begin with ensuring there are no hurdles for those living with mobility challenges. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) places some legal obligations on certain types of business. But this isn’t exactly a welcoming approach. To be truly inclusive, you need to go beyond the basics of what is required of your company by law.
A truly inclusive culture must perform regular assessments of the business environment. Don’t just think about mobility. Consider whether there are elements of your surroundings that make for an uncomfortable or stressful experience for neuroatypical workers and customers.
Is there potential for you to provide designated quiet spaces to decompress when they find the noise and other sensory elements overwhelming? Are signs provided in clear typefaces and high contrast to accommodate those who experience dyslexia and color blindness? It can be helpful to work with organizations with expertise in making workplaces more disability-inclusive if you’re unsure of what to look for.
Beyond the day-to-day elements, it’s also important to stay abreast of what your consumers and employees may expect from your environment. In the wake of COVID-19, consumers and workers are often uncomfortable about interacting in spaces without assurance of high levels of cleanliness. As such, it’s worth looking at whether your industrial hygiene standards meet the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Incorporating better sanitation routines for each area of your environment tends to result in healthier employees, improves morale, and reduces contamination risks. Importantly, this informs a more welcoming culture by showing you take external concerns seriously and are keen to adapt accordingly.
Many business owners believe the traditional structures of business have worked well for decades, so there is little cause to change them. However, not all employees — and potential new talent — do their best work when constricted by standard approaches.
By being willing to incorporate a degree of flexibility into your operations, you are not only demonstrating a more welcoming workplace but also have the potential to benefit from a wider range of talented contributors.
One form of workplace flexibility growing in popularity, particularly as a result of COVID-19, is remote operations. Thankfully, the rise in demand for this approach means some tools and protocols can make this practical for most types of business. However, simply allowing employees to work remotely isn’t enough to establish a welcoming culture.
You also need to make sure remote workers have the support they need. This could be establishing sufficient equipment or online space to chat casually with colleagues. Make sure HR and management talk to remote employees about what resources can help them thrive.
Discuss setting up dedicated spaces in their home to not just be productive but also perform home workouts so they can stay healthy. This might require providing rented gym equipment or introducing them to YouTube exercise videos. The key is to keep communicating with these workers and show you care about their wellbeing even away from the physical workspace.
Excluding segments of the population from your business is not only unethical, but it can also detrimentally impact your success.
Commit to establishing a more diverse workforce at all levels of leadership and take the time to review your environment for potential hurdles to access. Wherever possible, protocols for well-supported flexibility can open the door to more talented workers. Some of these steps may take substantial effort on your part, but the results are likely to be positive for your company and the community.