Workplace Diversity Training: How it Should be Done

Nowadays, workplace diversity has become a must to any company that wishes to expand its reach. Organisations now take part in an ever-growing worldwide economy, are they must acknowledge the fact that they need to adapt towards a multicultural workplace environment and the many benefits they can have from workplace diversity.

This issue is most often than not addressed through the organisation of training programmes. However, research done on the effectiveness of such programmes has brought up mixed results. Some studies have suggested that diversity training is efficient, while others have shown that it may as well lead to backlash between employees. All of these inconclusive results have led to widespread pessimism towards diversity training.

It is common knowledge that people/employees coming from various cultural backgrounds have distinctive ways in which they interpret languages, signs and formalities. To be more precise, these differences can be seen in the way in which culturally diverse people communicate, approach conflict and make decisions. In layman terms, having a diverse work environment is beneficial for the organisation, due to advantages in areas such as return on investment, productivity, teamwork and employee engagement. More often than not when we think about diversity, the first few things that pop into our heads is ethnicity, religion, age and gender. Nonetheless, people need to understand that diversity in itself encompasses so much more than that. Diversity can bring to light qualities different from our own, perceptions that we may have developed of others, how our initial approach to interactions differs and many other traits that separate us from everyone else.

It has become abundantly clear to that employees do not have to love or like each other at work, but co-existing is a must. It is imperative they cooperate and communicate efficiently, despite their differences and their contrary beliefs regarding sensitive issues that may be brought up during diversity training. Whether we are talking about a half-a-day diversity programme, or an 8-hour programme, or even a 40-hour diversity programme, won’t change an employee who doesn’t want or is not ready to open his mind and definitely longer is not better.

The effectiveness of diversity training depends on the methods that are being used – whether we are talking about quizzes, small-group discussions, instructor-led discussions or even role-playing exercises – the personalities of the people who are being trained and, of course, the way in which the outcomes are being measured.

In a recent training exercise which was analysed and shows a lot of promise is perspective-taking. Basically, this type of programme represents the process of mentally walking in a stranger’s shoes. By taking the perspective of members of LGBT or racial minorities, people were asked to write a few sentences on what type of challenges a minority may face. The first effects could be seen almost immediately, with a rise in pro-diversity attitudes. In a follow-up done 8 months after the initial training the same effects were even more present and even some crossover effects. The people who took on the perspective of LGBT members have shown more positive attitudes and behaviours towards racial minorities and the other way around.

Another type of exercise that was successful is goal setting. Even though this exercise is more commonly used when managers wish to motivate or improve someone’s job performance, this strategy can be implemented with great success by asking participants to set specific, realistic and challenging goals in relation to workplace diversity. For example, one trainee sets the goal of challenging inappropriate comments about racial minorities when hearing them in the future – while also offering the trainee all the necessary information on how to handle such situations. The goal setting exercise proves to be successful with pro-diversity behaviours being shown three months after receiving the initial training and improved attitudes nine months from initial training. The effects are noticeable and notable, given the fact that diversity training is done once maybe twice a year.

Of course, for these training programmes to be as effective as possible personality characteristics must be taken into account, due to the fact that one type of exercise may be more effective for some employees than others. For example, perspective-taking is going to be more effective for people who lack empathy. Individuals who have a high level of empathy are more than willing to engage in their very own perspective-taking. People with low empathy levels require this training programme to act as a jump-start cable.

In conclusion, ensuring effective communication in culturally diverse organisations involves a deep understanding of cultural biases and social assimilation dynamics. Other than the language barrier, there are cultural perceptions and differences that make us different from one another. Organisations that want to have a strong competitive edge in this ever-changing marketplace must carry out effective training programmes that will enable their employees to work as a collective.

This is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.trainingindustry.com/blog/blog-entries/multicultural-organizations-why-diversity-training-is-important-for-the-workplace.aspx

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-act-violence/201701/why-diversity-training-usually-fails-in-the-workplace

https://hbr.org/2017/07/two-types-of-diversity-training-that-really-work

Generational Diversity at the Workplace

In the last couple of years, the workforce has begun changing dramatically due to the entrance of more and more millennials. Numerous companies are struggling to understand their needs and requirements. This struggle comes from a lack of communication and comments range from:

  • “Millennials don’t care about work or the company. We would train them and after a week they quit for a job with better pay.”
  • “The meaning of work doesn’t exist to them – they are always after rewards even though they do not work to properly earn them.”
  • “Their interests revolve around time off for vacation. It’s the only thing that matters to them.”

These complaints do not seem to match your average millennial student who is about the enter the workforce full-time. Most of them are very hard-working, doing internships and working after classes. They value the work that they put in. Although discovering something meaningful in work can be a bit of a challenge, interestingly enough, millennials’ answers do not revolve around time and money. This statement can change perceptions and make people see and understand what the underlying problem is. Due to the fact that they are a different generation altogether, millennials define meaningful work differently in comparison to past generations.

This merging of generations is happening amid an economic climate that has changed plans and altered expectations. In a recent research, employees from each generation were interviewed on a number of topics such as: the importance of meaningful work, what is meaningful at the job they currently have, ideal job and if they observed any generational differences in how people perceived meaningful work. In this research, generations are being defined in relation to their year of birth and their historical experiences that defined their formative years. From the following quotes, meaningful work will be explained through the eyes of each generation:

  • Traditionalists (1922-1945): “I can’t imagine going to a job that I didn’t think it had any value.”
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964): “If there is no personal fulfilment in what I am doing well, I would be miserable putting so much time and effort into something.”
  • Generation X (1965-1983): “If my job has no meaning, why would I get out of bed?”
  • Millennials (1984-2002): “I would prefer doing nothing and enjoy going to work rather than making buckets of money and hate going to work on a daily basis.”

These results do not offer any new insight, given the fact that these comments are generally known. However, when people were put on the spot, each generation attributed different definitions to the term ‘meaningful work’. Traditionalists responded that meaning comes from work that challenges people and gives them the possibility of growth whilst also helping others. Baby boomers are known for their tendency of being goal-orientated, thus it comes as no surprise that the most common answer was “success at achieving my own personal goals, and if you’re working with other people, helping them to achieve their goals.”

Interestingly enough, even though generation X believes that accomplishing personal career goals is vital in achieving meaningful work, their focus shifted towards work-life balance. Last but not least, millennials’ desire revolves around having nice colleagues, helping others and the community they are part of “The most meaningful job is one of service – if you are doing something that benefits someone directly or indirectly, it can be extremely rewarding.”

Given all the data gathered, it can be concluded that, in general, generations mostly agree on what meaningful work is, so why is it that so many organisations struggle to reach a common denominator with millennials? One answer to this question can be extracted from the second part of the interview process and that is negative stereotypes. The research that had been conducted discovered that each generation thought that the others are in it just for the money, that they are lazy, their work is superficial and that they do not care about meaning altogether.

So it comes as no surprise that if every generation has this system of beliefs, automatically they treat each other differently. A change in mentality can be the solution in this case. If generations realise that they are all searching for a deep-seated meaning at work, the social and business climate would benefit greatly. Unfortunately, stereotypes at the workplace can lead to low performance, low engagement, low job satisfaction everything culminating into a high employee turnover rate. A lack of understanding across generations can have detrimental effects on communication and working relationships and undermine effective services.

But what can managers do to avoid these generational conflicts. Firstly, a better internal communication process through which employees can understand how their work influences the organisational mission and why every role is important. This is where the HR department can offer a lending hand by creating safe space areas in order to discuss these matters, workshops which sole purpose is to bring different generations together and share their experiences, thus leading to recognising the generational commonalities.

Although it’s always beneficial to gain awareness on workplace trends from generational research, but at the end of the day all management is individual, and effective managers understand that. The one-on-one employee-manager relationship represents the difference maker. Regardless of generation what matters most is how well you understand your employees as individuals and what drives their attitudes and engagement.

By implementing these possible solutions, managers will actually allow various definitions of meaning to rise rather than impose what is deemed to be meaningful. Hence, overcoming generational stereotypes would be easier if they grant people the possibility to develop their careers on their own terms. At the end of the day, every generation is searching for meaning, so why not do it together?

This is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

http://www.hermanmiller.com/research/research-summaries/generations-at-work.html

http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun05/generational.aspx

https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2017/01/25/how-to-manage-generational-differences-in-the-workplace/#3093a9634cc4

https://hbr.org/2017/07/every-generation-wants-meaningful-work-but-thinks-other-age-groups-are-in-it-for-the-money

The Workplace of 2020 : A Different Experience Altogether

In the course of the next  few years, the workforce will be comprised of no less than five generations, starting from Traditionalists and Baby Boomers and ending with the all new “Generation 2020” – these being represented by people born after 1997. Given this situation, employers around the world will face numerous challenges in order to recruit, motivate and develop all of these different types of employees. It is believed that by 2020, the office will become mobile in order to accommodate employees worldwide. The best talents will claim imaginative, ingenious new contracts. Organisations unwilling or unable to provide such a shift in their business will suffer greatly in their mission of recruiting the best candidates.

HR departments face an uphill battle in preparing for 2020 and beyond. Large corporations are required to organise themselves globally in order to deal appropriately with employees, consumers, supply chain partners and shareholders who are dispersed worldwide. CSR(Corporate Social Responsibility) is on top of their list, followed closely by learning in terms of wikis, social media and blogs in order to extend their connectivity. Companies must adopt a series of changes ranging from operating processes to employee benefits – and everything must be done with complete transparency.

HR professionals are people too; hence they must continue to develop their skills and social awareness. They should know what is going on in their local communities, and understand its nuances, be aware of global issues and be open-minded in order to use new procedures such as crowd sourcing. By 2020, HR professionals should be proficient in everything digital and here is a list of a few things worth mentioning: video uploads, social networking, blogs, instant messaging, tagging etc.

The example given above isn’t the only change employers will have to face. By 2020, there will be 10 forces that will shape how employers think and act:

 

  1. Shifting workforce demographics” –In comparison to the 2010 workforce data, the predictions for 2020 show that US employees will comprise of even more people older than 55, more women and more Latinos. In Europe and Asia for example, due to a drop in fertility rates, the workforce will consist of even more aging individuals.
  2. The knowledge economy” –As mentioned in a previous article, the skill gap has started to represent a problem and will continue to be one in the foreseeable future. Work is becoming more technically demanding, and it will require skills such as: listening, relationship building, judgement, communicating with colleagues and problem solving.
  3. Globalisation” –For various reasons, a great number of companies included in the Financial Times Global 500, have their headquarters located in the following countries: Brazil, Russia, India or China. In just a few short years, the BRIC countries are said to become economic powerhouses. The workforce is becoming ‘virtual’, with less people on-site and with integrated headquarters operations.
  4. The digital workplace” – The digital space is growing at an increasingly high rate. Companies now require people who can cope with the sheer amount of information, whilst keeping it secure and private. Organisations are also looking for candidates who can generate new and exciting digital content.
  5. The omnipresence of mobile technology” –At a global scale, the number of mobile phones outnumber that of people. Consequently, there are countries where phones trump people.There are over 7,200 education apps already for the iPhone, some of them made by financial institutions, such as Wachovia and Bank of America, who use them for online performance support, sales training, product knowledge and sales training.
  6. The culture of connectivity” –Given the fact that we are always a few clicks away from social media, most people have become ‘ hyper connected’ and that is disrupting the balance and boundaries between home and office.
  7. Participation society” –Consumers are getting involved in improving any type of product, service and business. An example would be Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation, which amasses 24,000 employee users. They have gathered online via various social networks, in order to improve company operations.
  8. Social learning decade” –The period of time between 2010 and 2020 will become known as the time of ‘social networking, social learning and social media’.
  9. Corporate social responsibility” –By 2020, CSR will have become even more important than it is today. At present, 88% of people graduating university wish to work for companies that have CSR ideals complementary to their own. A great example for this is IBM’s Corporate Service Corps. They place members of their staff to work on CSR projects in developing countries where the organisation is expected to grow within the next years.
  10. Millennials in the workforce” – This group of people expect companies to use the same tools they have been using since they’ve become digitally active. Technology dominates every aspect of their lives and it comes as no surprise that 41% of millennials choose to communicate electronically at the office rather than on the phone or face to face. Millennials tend to use their own technology in the office and 75% of them think that access to technology makes them more efficient workers. Nonetheless, technology can be problematic and lead to inter-generational conflict in the workplace. This tension makes millennials feel held back by outdated working styles.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation, can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

“The 2020 Workplace” – Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd

Forbes.com