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Do you find the phrase “workplace diversity” daunting? Does your organizational culture have a need to successfully managing diversity or to increase diversity? Let’s explore the different components and practical applications on what workplace researchers have been finding effective over the last couple of decades.
Diversity in the workplace refers to the state of having a workplace population made up with individuals with differing characteristics/traits, such as age, gender, race-ethnicity, educational background, political beliefs, lifestyle, weight, and more. These may be salient and easily detectable, such as race-ethnicity, or less so, such as their attitude towards a certain type of music. Diversity in America is generally viewed as increasing, as noted by predicted increase to 25% of the workforce belonging to a minority group in 2050, changing generations, and visible policy and social changes to be more accepting of gender diversity. Therefore, organizations and management should also adapt to understand and better manage diversity.
The effect of diversity on performance researchers have found is varied. Some argue that since diversity brings together a greater range of skill sets, abilities, perspectives, thought processes, and experiences, it should diversify choices in the overall pool of ideas and novel answers to problems, increasing overall performance.1 Enhanced creativity and problem solving abilities allows for greater innovation and competitive market advantage.2 Another perspective states that increase of diversity encourages formation of different groups based on their similarities. These groups can use characteristics to compare and discriminate each other, creating biases, reducing organization cohesion and performance.3
However, there may not be a choice left when it comes to harnessing diversity to maintain competitive edge and spur innovation. Diversity can make groups more likely to consider different ideas and perspectives just by its presence because a homogenous group is more likely to assume that they already agree with each other and have shared perspectives. A study of top 1500 firms and effect of gender diversity revealed that representation of women in top management was correlated to $42 million higher in firm value.4 So what can organizations do to effectively manage diversity? Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Effective leadership: Leaders must understand the benefits and challenges of diversity and diversity management. They should also be able to build personal relationships with each individual member, view diversity and each team member’s contributions and place within the whole picture, and encourage acceptance and understanding between team members.
- Ongoing diversity training: One-time or one workshop once a year is not an effective way to change behavior. Organizations committed to diversity must develop ongoing training offered to all levels within the organization and encourage a collaborative and understanding culture that embraces diversity as catalyst to innovation and competitive edge.
- Diversity exposure: Heterogeneous groups as a whole may be prone to conflict if members of different groups are creating distance and differentiation. However, this can be moderated by increasing exposure of each group to another. Although it may not be possible to avoid group formation, but it is possible to expose each member to members of other diversity groups to maximize understanding and pave a path for collaboration.
- Open dialogue and communication: A multi-way dialogue between different affinity groups can open up the communication channel for not just between employees and leadership but also between each group to understand the needs and different wants of each group. Competent moderation of this dialogue is extremely important. Although their ground-level interests may differ, targeting the overall good of the organization can remind each group that they are working towards the same goal.
- Williams, K., & O’Reilly III, C. (1998). A review of 40 years of research. Research of Organizational Behavior, 20, 77-140.
- Bassett‐Jones, N. (2005). The paradox of diversity management, creativity and innovation. Creativity and innovation management, 14(2), 169-175.
- Turner, J., & Tajfel, H. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. Psychology of intergroup relations, 7-24.
- Dezsö, C. L., & Ross, D. G. (2012). Does female representation in top management improve firm performance? A panel data investigation. Strategic Management Journal, 33(9), 1072-1089.
- Christian, J., Porter, L., & Moffitt, G. (2006). Workplace diversity and group relations: An overview. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 9(4), 459-466.
According to research published in Harvard Business Review, there are 6 important pillars that make up an effective workplace wellness program. This article explores each pillar in detail, as well as the outcomes of an effective workplace wellness program. Imagica LPH has been implementing corporate wellness programs with a proven track record of lowering healthcare costs and insurance payouts, as well as engaged and healthy employees. Contact Will Yeaton at (602) 509-4023 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Multi-level Leadership: An effective workplace wellness program penetrates all levels. A company’s culture is not static. It’s constantly changing and dynamic. Contribution from each level of leadership can make a big difference in the adoption and effectiveness of wellness programs. This starts in the C-suite, where C-level executives lead by example and jump start the environment, supported by middle management who can shape mini sub cultures. On the regular employee level, wellness advocates/ambassadors can be deployed throughout the organization to encourage and promote health behaviors.
- Alignment: Wellness programs cannot be successful as a stand-alone. The more aligned and integrated the program is with the company’s vision, identity, and culture, the more likely it is to succeed. These shifts can take time, and leadership need to be patient in increasing adoption of the program.
- Scope, Relevance, and Quality: Successful wellness programs assess and address the needs of the employees. Surveying employees on their health needs is a good place to start. Make sure that the programs taking place are relevant to the company’s employees. Physical fitness is one part of the equation, but not the whole picture. Addressing emotional and mental wellness is also a key part of a holistic wellness program. Lastly, offering high quality programs and campaigns can drive adoption and foster employee pride.
- Accessibility: Remember that last time you thought about going to the gym and decided not to because 1) gym was too far away 2) it was too much effort to drive or 3) you didn’t want to do laundry on your previous gym clothes? Convenience and accessibility is key. Even if you offer the best wellness program in the country, employees are not going to utilize it if it’s inconvenient. Put the program out front and leave no room for excuses. The more accessible, the more people will join.
- Partnerships: Wellness programs that can maximally utilize both internal and external partnerships have a higher chance at success. Leveraging vendors’ resources and cross-department partnership and brainstorming can enhance the wellness program’s quality.
- Communication: As with everything else, communication is critical. Make sure the wellness vision is communicated throughout the company. Diversifying the ways to reach employees and tailoring messages towards specific units can work well. These communication efforts can help create an environment more open to wellness engagement.
- Lowered healthcare costs: Improving employee population health results in lowered insurance payouts and less healthcare claims. HEB, a Texas-based grocery chain, found that participants in their wellness program has $1,500 lower health care claims each year.
- Increased productivity: Employees take less sick days and are more present at work. Health problems cause less decrease in productivity throughout the company.
- Improved employee morale: Employees want to work for an organization that cares about their people and prioritize their health and happiness. Effective workplace wellness programs can help achieve this goal.
- Berry, L., Mirabito, A. M., & Baun, W. B. (2010). What’s the hard return on employee wellness programs? Harvard Business Review, December, 2012-68.
Healthy employees are beneficial all-around. They are likely to be more engaged, happy, more productive, take less sick days, make better quality decisions, and contribute more to the organization. Employee health and wellbeing are an obvious goal, and more and more organizations are identifying employee health and wellbeing as a priority. However, creating an organization of healthy employees is easier said than done. A person’s life is not distinctly separated into work and personal life. They are interrelated domains that affect each other. Therefore, health and wellbeing must be approached on a comprehensive scale. This article will examine the factors affecting wellbeing in the work place and what consequences it can have.
A major factor that influences the wellbeing in the workplace is the work setting and its relationship to illnesses. Work setting refers to the physical and emotional health and safety hazards. This may seem more obvious for employee whose work involves “physical work” such as construction or a chemical lab that exposes them to prominent possibilities of injuries and contamination. For more office-based workers, back pain from inadequate chair support, arthritis from too much typing, and vision problems from long hours on the computer all belong in this category. In addition, psychological hazards must also be taken into account in addition to physical hazards, such as sexual harassment. To positively impact this factor, organizations can start by identifying any and all possible physical and psychological hazards, providing ample training and resources, and building a safety culture where everyone is engaged and accountable.
The second factor that contributes to workplace wellbeing is the personality traits of each individual. Some employees exhibit Type A behavior patterns, also known as driven, competitive, high energy, impatient, and rude. Type A individuals are prone to higher stress and higher risk of cardiovascular disease due to elevated blood pressure, which lowers their wellbeing status. Another trait that influences wellbeing is whether the individual has an internal or external locus of control. The locus of control refers to how much control they have in their lives. A person with internal locus of control believe that their behavior largely influences events and outcomes in their lives, where another with external locus of control believes that external forces are largely in control of their events and outcomes. Internal locus of control fosters ease, satisfaction, and less stress as their sense of control is more established.
The third and last factor is occupational stress. Different dimensions that contribute include intrinsic job factors stressing out employees, such as work overload, long hours, rotating shift work, travel, and having a job that is high on demand and low in decisional impact. Role in the organization, including degree of responsibility, role ambiguity, role conflict can all cause occupational stress. Relationships with other people in the organization, including superiors, colleagues, and inferiors can serve as both potential stressors or support depending on the relationship. Job insecurity, unhealthy organizational culture, and management style stresses out employees and have negative health outcomes.
Having low levels of health and wellbeing can have individual and organizational consequences. To the organization, employees with low levels of wellbeing can have a significant impact on bottom line. Increased health insurance costs due to increased claims, lost productivity and absenteeism, workers’ compensation claims, injury lawsuits can become a heavy burden to an employer. For the past 15 years, Imagica LPH’s CEO Will Yeaton has helped various organizations successfully implement transformative holistic corporate wellness programs. Organizations have seen unmatched levels of engagement and establishment of a holistic and sustainable culture of health, as well as significant cuts on insurance payouts and workers’ compensation costs. Please visit www.imagicalph.com for more information or contact Will Yeaton at (602) 509-4023 or email@example.com to learn more.
- Danna, K., Griffin, R. 1999. Health and Well-Being in the Workplace: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature. Journal of Management 25(3): 357-384