Innovation for wholistic inclusion
Professional Wellbeing is one of the foundational pillars of Wholistic Wellbeing. Unfortunately, the reality in many organizations is the tendency to focus on majority groups while neglecting minority groups, especially those from a different culture to the dominant one. This imbalance can be destructive to the health of the company.
I feel stressed and worried whenever I step into my workplace.
I feel like I do not belong there. I feel like people are ignoring my needs, my emotions and not even trying to make an effort to justify it.
These sample comments came from my friends from minority communities as they shared their experiences and thoughts about working in environments that did not support their wellbeing. In my view, everyone needs to be emotionally onboarded and supported. Those whose needs are not met will feel neglected and left out. This, in turn, will be reflected in the quality of their work, engagement, and productivity.
An employee who feels that their wellbeing is not a priority will often feel demotivated and disengaged from their job, and may exhibit “presentism,” being physically in the office or workplace, but remaining emotionally apart. Obviously, this will eventually affect their productivity and ultimately damage the company’s performance and reputation.
What can we do to better engage minority communities in the workplace? We can start by diversifying the talent pool that makes up the workforce of a company. This is where technology comes in, as it can accelerate the push for greater inclusivity by recognizing and eliminating biases at the grassroot level during the recruitment process. For example, companies can use artificial intelligence tools to highlight gender biases in the language used in a job advert. They can also perform data analysis to study the impact of socioeconomic background in the application process, and ultimately leverage the talent pool. They can even partner with gaming studios, as did Maersk, to develop online games for hiring managers to help develop recruitment skills free of cognitive bias. Further concrete measures can be found in the Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit published by the World Economic Forum.
Another way of ensuring that minority groups feel valued, respected and seen is by creating affiliation groups and clubs within the workplace: a space in which minority group members can meet and exchange without the pressure of conforming to the majority culture in the office. Technology can help here too, by assisting managers in identifying what groups need representation, as cultural or sexual affiliations may not always be obvious (the same is true of gender and ability). Overall, technology can help companies be more mindful of difference and contribute to a more immersive wellbeing experience that recognizes each employee’s individual needs, and their Wholistic Wellbeing plan must factor this in.
A blanket approach cannot work when it comes to building inclusivity. Companies must remember that a policy or approach that works for one group of employees may not necessarily work for another. By putting Wholistic Wellbeing at the core of corporate culture, diversity training sessions and other employee benefits would become a genuine part of the daily agenda, no longer presented as an afterthought or quick fix, but rather within a continuous, open environment. In this context, employees will surely feel more willing to initiate conversations about a range of issues vital to them.
Why is this so important? Because having an engaged, committed, and motivated workforce helps a business succeed. Technology offers insightful and useful ways to make workplaces more inclusive and cater to employees’ wellbeing; it can help reduce bias, diversify talent pools, and benchmark diversity and inclusion. When companies and leaders take the initiative to create safe and inclusive workplaces, employees feel supported, empowered, and valued. Imbued with a sense of belonging will positively affect their Wholistic Wellbeing. In the long run, this is bound to create a more productive workforce.