Inclusive Workplaces Create Highly Effective and Satisfied Employees
23 November 2017 at 1:57 pm
New research has highlighted the importance of inclusion in Australia’s workplaces, with inclusive workplace employees found to be 10 times more likely to be highly effective and almost 20 times more likely to be very satisfied at work.
Diversity Council Australia (DCA) led the Suncorp-sponsored Inclusion@Work Index 2017-2018 report, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,000 Australian workers and found that inclusion is good for both customers and employees.
“Over the past decade, there has been a marked shift in focus in business circles from discussing diversity to diversity and inclusion,” the report said.
“Organisations are increasingly recognising that if they wish to experience the benefits of diversity, they need to cultivate not just a diverse workforce, but importantly, also an inclusive one.”
The survey showed that 75 per cent of people supported inclusion programs in the workplace, and other key findings included that employees in inclusive work teams were:
- 19 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job compared to employees in non-inclusive workplaces (58 per cent to 3 per cent);
- 10 times more likely to be highly effective in the workplace (58 per cent to 6 per cent);
- nine times more likely to innovate (45 per cent to 5 per cent); and
- four times more likely to stay with their employer over the coming year (62 per cent to 16 per cent).
Suncorp CEO and managing director Michael Cameron, said inclusive workplaces were important to foster greater diversity and facilitate better business performance.
“We sponsored this research because we know the value of having an inclusive work environment and the positive impact it can have across industries. The findings will start important conversations that lead to more inclusiveness in all types of organisations,” Cameron said.
“Our businesses perform at their best when leaders provide an environment where people feel included, connected and valued.”
DCA CEO Lisa Annese, told Pro Bono News that inclusive workplaces were strong drivers of business performance.
“We defined inclusion as feeling connected in the workplace, feeling respected, feeling valued and feeling that they can progress in the workplace. If people feel all those four things, they’re more likely to be engaged and loyal to their employer,” Annese said.
“This has [strong] outcomes in terms of business performance.”
While Annese believed feeling a connection to others in the workplace was important, she said it was “only one part” of a truly inclusive workplace.
“Sometimes people can feel connected with their team members, but not valued by their leader. There they might not progress in an organisation, so while having those personal connections is an important part of it, it’s also really important that connection also enables you to be your authentic self,” she said.
“People want to be noticed by leaders, to be valued and to have opportunities to progress. This is why it’s so important for leaders to be on board with this.”
While Australians were found to strongly support inclusive work programs, lower levels of support was more evident “among men from Anglo-cultural backgrounds, men who were older, and men who had no caring responsibilities”.
Annese said this was probably due to a perception that inclusion initiatives did not benefit them, but she stressed that this was actually not the case.
“I think perhaps the reason is that they don’t see any particular benefit for them. They may have benefitted from an historical legacy where men have been the natural leaders of organisations and they feel this will no longer be the case. So there may be a fear they’re missing out,” she said.
“However the research actually reveals that despite the fears that some men have, they benefit just as much as women… so it’s a win-win situation.”
While things are heading in the right direction, progress to achieve change is slow according to Annese.
“Certainly in Australia it is positive but [change] is very slow. We still have very low levels of women represented in leadership in Australia and a very Anglo-Celtic workforce in terms of power and decision making,” she said.
“We still have unacceptable levels of discrimination and harassment against Indigenous Australians and LGBTI Australia. So while it’s heading in the right direction, we still have a long way to go.”
Annese said there were a number of practical ways for workplaces to become more inclusive.
“We always believe that a lot of this work begins with the leaders in the organisation. So being open about it and actually focusing on it as one of the pillars of change in the workplace,” she said.
“You need to make sure you have the frameworks set up right, regarding policies and the way you do business. All of this doesn’t exclude people… [But] sometimes you need special measures for excluded groups to support them to become part of the conversation in the workplace.
“Then the hard part is trying to focus on cultural issues within an organisation. So the day-to-day ways in which people can interact with each other. That really creates the culture of inclusion or exclusion. And anything that [facilitates] cultural change will really help.”