Many businesses and organisations are missing a critical step when it comes to building diversity and inclusion in their workforces, according to new research.
That step is simply to understand what is happening in an organisation by measuring in detail its workplace wellbeing, says Jane Kennelly, General Manager – Wellbeing for Skills Consulting Group.
She was commenting on research commissioned by SCG, the Work Wellbeing Index research which shows that inequities exist for certain people from different cultural, gender and age backgrounds.
Although the needs of men and women were not substantially different, women had more complex requirements in terms of work wellbeing. For women it's less about remuneration (although that's still important) and more about work/life balance, flexibility, and mental health support.
Millennials want their workplace to acknowledge they have a life outside work and to support them to engage with non-work commitments. They want emotionally intelligent workplaces offering a mental health focus, and support time away from work as a tool for being more productive. They also want to be trusted – less micro-managing, and more opportunity to set their own pace and schedule.
Māori employees crave a whanau-like team where they are acknowledged as individuals and given help with work as well as praise for doing things well. This group also feel they could be paid more competitively.
Asian employees (excluding Indians) feel better pay and being paid on time are high priorities. As a group, they say they haven't experienced this cohesively, leading to feeling undervalued. However, Asian employees say they also want flexible working arrangements and less micro-managing. Like millennials, they want increased trust from managers and to feel listened to.
So, says Kennelly, these differing inequities can raise a big question – when considering work wellbeing, should a business take an organisation or individual level approach?
"Everyone is talking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace and many businesses are endeavouring to confront it head on," she says. "However, many organisations may be missing a critical step by not looking at diversity and inclusion from the point of view of work wellbeing.
"It's a case of one size does not fit all and that's really true for workplace wellbeing. The journey starts with understanding the problem and then working with employees to find solutions that meet their unique and individual needs."
From a purely pragmatic perspective, she says the best place to start is understanding the differences between groups and then using those insights to drill down to what's happening at the individual level within a business.
Start by identifying what's happening in your own business, says Kennelly: "Our research provides a snapshot of what is happening generally. So, you'll need to dig into the detail of your own situation – what are the specific needs of the different people in your organisation? Avoid one-size-fits-all solutions – instead, look for blended solutions that take into consideration the diverse nature of your workforce.
The rewards will come. Kennelly says the research clearly shows the correlation between work wellbeing and productivity.
"It's a simple case of OK-nomics. If staff feel valued, listened to, and recognised for who they are, they will create a culture of success. If they aren't, the opposite will be true.
"Taking an inclusive approach to work wellbeing will pay dividends on your bottom line. It will save you money in terms of staff retention and, in an environment where good candidates are hard to come by – it could just be your winning hand.
For more information: Skill Consulting Group have a dedicated wellbeing team who can provide tailored advice for your business.