Encouraging Teamwork in a Diverse Workplace

A recent study found that workplace diversity can increase employee happiness and job satisfaction. The study cites “feeling included” as one of the top raves of workers. Further, this feeling of inclusion makes employees more likely to come to work, which means a more efficient and profitable company culture. Pause for cheers and pats on the back…

With this shining example in mind, it is important to keep looking at ways to effectively manage workplace diversity. As the University of California San Francisco points out, workplace diversity encompasses more than just cultural and racial diversity. We also need to think about diversity of gender, socioeconomic status, age, and physical ability.

Among such a diverse crowd, it is important for HR professionals to create effective avenues for communication and camaraderie.  Here are some tips for making sure that these differences create a productive “meeting of the minds”—not a collective banging of foreheads on desks.

When you hire someone:

  • Insist diversity not only in the people you hire, but in the employees on screening and interview committees. As mentioned above, this means diversity of age, experience, gender, etc.
  • When you hire a new employee, job expectations shouldn’t be the only memo. Explain the importance of workplace diversity, and delineate expectations for a positive company culture.
  • Frequently revisit hiring policies as they relate to diversity. Consider having a committee of employees give input on the policy, and on diversity in company culture.

When you are managing the workplace:

  • The idea that there is “one right way” to solve a given problem quashes the creativity of workplace diversity. Challenge yourself and other managers to be open to multiple kinds of solutions, from multiple voices.
  • Encourage situations where employees work with people outside of their team or department. This can be recreational situations like company outings or luncheons, or special projects at work where a manager shakes up the normal work groups.
  • Give employees the chance to nominate each other for recognition after a great idea or a job well done. Create an MVP bulletin board in the breakroom, or have a monthly drawing among all the nominees for a $5 coffee gift card.
  • Be able to take or accept constructive criticism and communication from employees when it comes to diversity. They may identify things about your management style, and about company culture, that you aren’t able to see.
  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment or inappropriate behavior. Be sure that “inappropriate” is clearly defined for all employees. Communication is important. Identify ahead of time what kinds of jokes, comments, language, and other behavior are not acceptable parts of workplace diversity.

By following these tips, you should be well on your way to creating a positive company culture. Remember to always encourage communication, and keep an open mind. That means keeping your mind open to new people and new ideas… even really crazy things like garlic lemonade (you get a free cold-fighting recipe today, in honor of the chilly weather).

How do you make communication effective in a diverse workplace? Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Rennett Stowe