Inclusivity and avoiding office politics should be priorities for any HR team. But in many workplaces around the world, these two goals are often at odds with each other. And when this happens, it can be difficult for HR teams to know how to best support their companies.
If this sounds a lot like the kind of environment you work in, don’t worry—you’re not alone. In fact, research shows that office politics are a major problem in workplaces around the world. The good news is that there are things you can do to help reduce the negative impact of office politics in your company.
Here are a few tips for HR teams that want to help their companies avoid office politics and prioritize inclusivity.
The first step in promoting inclusivity is understanding what the term actually means. In its simplest form, inclusivity is the practice of including all employees in the workplace, regardless of their background or identity.
This might sound like a pretty straightforward concept, but in practice, it can be difficult to achieve. That’s because, in order for inclusivity to truly exist in the workplace, every single employee needs to feel like they belong.
There are a number of things that can contribute to a feeling of belonging in the workplace, but one of the most important is feeling like you’re valued for who you are. When employees feel like they’re valued, it goes a long way in promoting inclusivity.
Creating an Inclusive Environment
Once you have a good understanding of what inclusivity is, you can start thinking about ways to create an inclusive environment in your workplace. Here are a few things you can do to get started:
1. Make sure all employees feel valued.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating: all employees need to feel valued in order for inclusivity to exist in the workplace. If you want to create an inclusive environment, you need to make sure that all employees feel like they’re an important part of the team.
One way to do this is to make sure that everyone has a voice in the workplace. Encourage employees to share their ideas and perspectives and make sure that their voices are heard.
“One of my top priorities as an HR professional is to help create an inclusive environment in the workplace,” says Maxim Kan, Head of Marketing at Prom. “I do this by making a conscious decision to take the time to listen to all employees and value their perspectives.”
Another way you can promote a feeling of value is to offer employees opportunities for growth and development. If your employees feel that they have the opportunity to improve their skills and grow in their careers, they will naturally feel valued and appreciated.
2. Encourage employees to be themselves.
In order for inclusivity to truly exist in the workplace, employees need to feel like they can be themselves. This means that they should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives—even if they’re different from the majority.
“I’ve found that one of the best ways to encourage employees to be themselves is to create a culture of open communication,” says Kevin Miller, Founder of Kevin Miller. “When employees feel like they can speak up, it creates a more inclusive environment.”
Another way to encourage employees to be themselves is to make sure that they feel like they belong. When employees feel like they’re a part of the team, they’re more likely to be themselves.
3. Promote a culture of respect.
One of the most important things you can do to promote inclusivity in the workplace is to promote a culture of respect. Respect is the foundation of any healthy workplace, and it’s essential for creating an inclusive environment.
“It can be a real challenge to make sure every single person in the office knows you respect them,” says Daniel Tejada, Co-Founder of Straight Up Growth. “There are only so many hours in the day, and with daily workloads to tend to, it’s easy to unintentionally overlook someone.”
“The best thing you can do is to model the behavior you want to see from your employees and make sure that everyone in the office knows that respect is expected and required.
“You might not have the time to focus on every person in the office. But when you model respectful behavior, it sets the tone for the entire workplace and makes it more likely that everyone will treat each other with respect.”
4. Be intentional about inclusion.
In order to create an inclusive environment in your workplace, you need to be intentional about it. You can’t just hope that inclusivity will happen—you need to actively work to make it happen.
“I like to think of inclusion as something that you have to actively work for,” says Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor at Personal Trainer Pioneer. “It’s not going to happen on its own, and you can’t just hope that it will.”
“One of the best ways to work for inclusion is to create opportunities for employees to interact with each other. This could be something as simple as setting up regular team-building activities or hosting company-wide events.”
5. Celebrate diversity.
An excellent way to promote inclusivity in the workplace is to celebrate diversity. Diversity is what makes us all unique, and it’s something that should be celebrated.
So, how can you achieve this? Consider having regular events or days where you celebrate the different cultures represented in your workplace. This is an excellent way to show employees that you value their uniqueness.
For instance, you might have a “Cultural Awareness Day” where employees can learn about the different cultures represented in your workplace. Or, you might have a “Diversity Day” where you celebrate the many different types of diversity that exist in your workplace.
Whatever you do, make sure that you’re intentional about it. Don’t just have a “diversity day” because it sounds good—have it because you want to show your employees that you value their diversity.
Creating an inclusive environment in the workplace is essential for any HR team that wants its business to be successful. By following these tips, you can make sure that your workplace is one that values and includes everyone.
You’ll start to notice that your workplace naturally avoids office politics because there’s a welcoming and balanced environment.