Inclusion fundamentals: Cultivating belonging in diverse settings

Inclusion fundamentals: Cultivating belonging in diverse settings

by Felicity Menzies

Man is by nature a social animal, Aristotle

Belonging is the perception that you belong to a workgroup and are an accepted and essential member of that group. Employees who experience a sense of belonging to their workgroup feel that they are part of, and integral to, a community—a core member of a collective whole—, and that their contribution is vital to the group’s success. Individuals experience belonging when their work group actively seeks out their perspective and viewpoint, considers their contribution equally alongside the contributions of others, and integrates their insights into decision-making and problem-solving to drive innovation in practices, products, and services. Employees who experience a sense of belonging feel interpersonally safe and supported at work. They are confident that they can put forth novel ideas without being humiliated or rejected and that their workgroup will help them to achieve their goals. Employees who experience a sense of belonging have friends at work and share personal information with team members.

Human beings are inherently tribal. Psychologists have shown our need for social connectedness is hard-wired:

  •      Studies show that the neural networks that promote social activity are the same networks that promote the satisfaction of physical needs like food and water
  •      When we are not engaged in a motor or cognitive task, our brain automatically turns to social matters
  •      Humans have a relatively larger brain matter relative to body size, which is accounted for by our relatively larger social brain
  •      Social rejection is experienced as physical pain

This primal need to connect with others is evolutionary. We all need other people. Through our connection with others, we increase our survival chances. In the workplace, connectedness to others improves job performance, buffers stress, and supports well-being.

Like respect, belonging is a basic human need. When employees experience belonging they are motivated and engaged, and this improves productivity and the bottom line. Belonging triggers approach behaviour and increased effort. Gallup research shows that only two out of 10 employees strongly agree to having a best friend at work, but, if that ratio increases to six in 10, organisations could realize 36% fewer safety incidents, 7% more engaged customers and 12% higher profit. The experience of not belonging, on the other hand, damages self-worth, engagement, and collaboration. Productivity suffers and other costs of the high level of disengagement associated with loneliness at work include 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, 16% lower profitability and 65% lower share price over time.

Belonging increases not only individual productivity and performance but also the performance of teams. Google’s 2015 study ‘Project Aristotle’ found that interpersonal safely was the most significant success factor underpinning high-performance teams across the organisation. Contrary to their expectations, the researchers reported that the capabilities of the individual team members mattered less for team performance than group processes (how team members shared information and collaborated). In particular, when individual members attached a low interpersonal risk to voicing their ideas or making mistakes, they were more likely to share novel information or challenge the status quo. In turn, the group was able to access and integrate a greater diversity of thought to drive innovation and to improve judgment and decision-making. Employees in interpersonally safe teams were also less likely to want to leave Google, brought in more revenue and were rated as effective twice as often by executives.

Risks to belonging in diverse settings

Although all human beings share a need to belong, a study by EY reported 41 percent of females and 32 percent of males have felt personally excluded at work. Of those that have felt personally excluded, the majority cited gender and ethnicity as the reason behind this (38 percent said gender and 38 percent said ethnicity). The other reasons cited were:

  •      Education (17 percent)
  •      Religion (11 percent)
  •      Marital status (10 percent)
  •      Sexual orientation (9 percent)
  •      None of these (19 percent)

In diverse work settings there a number of barriers that cause exclusion and prevent employees from making a meaningful contribution to group work and connecting personally with colleagues:

(i) Ingroup (affinity) bias

Affinity or ingroup bias refers to a tendency to favour our social group (ingroup) more than groups of which we are not a member (outgroups). Studies show that, in general, people extend greater trust, positive regard, cooperation, and empathy to ingroup members compared with outgroup members.

Our preference for people like ourselves has important social ramifications. We seek out others who are like us. We cluster in groups with people like ourselves to enjoy their affection and positive attention. Their similarity and attraction to us reaffirm our identity and boosts our self-esteem.

This preference for the company of people similar to ourselves creates psychological and physical distance between social groups. A look around most university campuses or workplaces will reaffirm this: from the day they step on campus or into the office, new students or employees seek out and form friendships with people from their own ethnic group. Affinity bias manifests not only as a preference for ingroup members, but it may also manifest as an aversive tendency towards outgroup members. We may go out of our way to avoid interacting with people who are different from us. Older workers, for example, report exclusion from work-related social activities and circles and being parodied by younger workers. 

Affinity bias can also lead us to actively solicit, pay greater attention to, and to favour the contributions of ingroup members over outgroup members. The perspectives and ideas of people who are different from us are rejected, overlooked, dismissed, or discounted.

In work groups with multiple members sharing a similar background, us-versus-them distinctions create fault-lines or subgroups. Researchers Sherry Thatcher and Pankaj Patel have conducted two meta-analyses on the impact of faultlines on team performance, one in the Journal of Applied Psychology and one in the Journal of Management. Their analyses combine the results from prior studies on over 4000 teams. The primary finding is that stronger faultlines lead to greater conflict and lower team cohesion. Faultlines reduce team performance and team member satisfaction.

(ii) Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.  In diverse work settings, confirmation bias can exacerbate the effects of affinity bias by orientating our attention towards individuals who have a background similar to our own and who share our views and perspectives. Confirmation bias can also lead us to quickly reject or discount the views of minority members if they do not align with our preexisting ideas. Australian research reports 58 percent of respondents perceive that their colleagues often reject others for being different.

(iii) Low psychological safety

Amy Edmondson, who coined the term in 1999, defines psychological safety as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ When we propose a new idea or challenge the ideas and decisions of others at work we bear interpersonal risk—the possibility of being discredited, penalised or humiliated if we fail or make a mistake. Alongside physical safety and security needs, all humans share psychological needs—the maintenance of high self-esteem and connection with others. Our universal needs motivate us to avoid situations that potentially bruise our ego or result in social exclusion or loss of status, or that may attract tangible penalties such as a financial punishment or reduced opportunities for career progression. When we perceive these risks to be high, we seek to prevent being perceived as ignorant, incompetent or deviant by refraining from offering novel ideas or from admitting mistakes. Interpersonal risk-taking is greater in ambiguous and complex environments when there is less certainty attached to our ideas. Interpersonal risk-taking is also higher when our counterpart has higher status or more power, experience or expertise than us. In those contexts, we are motivated to engage in impression management techniques.

In contrast, in psychologically safe settings, interpersonal risks are low. Psychological safety involves contexts in which we perceive that we will not be penalised nor negatively judged for mistakes or failures or for challenging the status quo. In such contexts, we are more willing to share novel ideas and to speak-up on sensitive issues.

While psychological safety may be absent in homogenous workgroups, diverse workgroups may have to work harder than homogenous groups to foster a speak-up culture. In 2017, in a world-first, The Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey collected perceptions of psychological safety from a diverse cross-section of workers. Overall, the results indicated low levels of psychological safety with significant variations across income, age, gender, and education level.

  •      Only 24 percent of respondents reported feeling safe to take risks at work
  •      Lower income earning staff experience lower levels of psychological safety than higher income earning colleagues
  •      Younger respondents are more concerned about mistakes being held against them and find it significantly more difficult to ask colleagues for help
  •      Men are more likely to report that it is safe to take risks at work
  •      The higher the education level of an individual, the more likely they feel safe to take risks
(iv) Cultural barriers

There are cross-cultural differences in norms related to speaking in a group setting, contradicting superiors, challenging peers, interrupting and turn-taking that might result in some members dominating others in group discussions. Consider the Western proverb, the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ and compare with the Japanese proverb, ‘the nail that stands up gets hammered down’. Western cultures are speak-up and stand-out, individualistic and competitive cultures whereas Eastern cultures typically endorse group solidarity and modesty. Managers of multicultural work groups must be cognisant that individuals raised in Western cultural contexts may dominate discussions and exert greater influence over decision-making and problem-solving.

(v) Language and other communication barriers

Even when using the same language, people might misunderstand each other. The meaning of a message is conveyed by two means: the actual words used and the way those words are used.  What we mean is not always a literal translation of what we say. For mutual understanding, both parties in an exchange must adhere to a common system of language use. Across cultures, there are differences in how people use language to convey and interpret the meaning of messages. Often these differences reflect variations in cultural values. People use language differently because they think differently. Language reflects preferences for certain ways of being or thinking. For example, when responding to compliments or praise, Chinese speakers may disparage themselves to convey respect. Modesty is an important element of politeness. But English speakers tend to respond to compliments with a simple ‘thank you’; acceptance of a compliment conveys respect to the giver. English speakers might interpret a Chinese speaker’s debasement as insulting. It diminishes the validity of their compliment. Communicative rules are culture-bound, not language bound. Differences in language use occur even among cultures that share the same language. There are disparities between American and British English speakers. Within societies, there are individual differences in language use, and also those related to subcultures such as class, gender, and generation. When people from different cultures adhere to their own language rules, the result can be a communication breakdown. Even if they are speaking the same language, different communicative rules can cause a failure to create shared meaning. This causes misunderstanding, frustration, and conflict.

Sticking to one’s own system of language use during an intercultural exchange has social ramifications too. Language simultaneously conveys messages and promotes important social goals. When there is a mismatch in language rules, speakers might accidentally breach social codes. They can be judged as disrespectful, rude, deceitful, arrogant, insincere, insensitive, uncaring, or abrupt. Mismatches in language rules contribute to negative national stereotypes, such as the ‘brash American’ or ‘unfriendly Chinese’.

Cross-cultural differences in paralanguage also contribute to communication barriers for multicultural teams. Paralanguage refers to the non-speech sounds that speakers can use to modify the meaning of their speech and these vary across cultures. For example, British English speakers use volume to convey anger, but Indian English speakers use loudness to command attention. Silence also implies different things across cultures. Silence can be used for face-saving, conveying positive or negative emotions, communicating consent or dissent, marking approval or disapproval, or for social bonding or alienation. Muriel Savbille Troike recounts a deadly incident that occurred in Greece because of cross-cultural differences in the use of silence. Greeks regard silence as refusal, whereas Egyptians use silence to convey consent. When Egyptian pilots requested permission to land their planes on Greek soil, and Greek traffic controllers did not respond, the Egyptians interpreted this silence as consent and proceeded to land. The Greeks interpreted this action as a direct contravention of their refusal and fired on the Egyptian planes.

Differences in the use of silence can lead to negative stereotyping. The Athabaskan Indians of North America do not engage in small talk with strangers, whereas European and African Americans use small talk to establish relationships. Athabaskan Indians stereotype European Americans as insincere and hypocritical for acting friendly before intimacy has been established. Similarly, European Americans regard the Athabaskan Indians as unfriendly, sullen, uncooperative, and ignorant. Similar negative stereotyping is reported between Finns who prefer silence and Swedes who prefer small talk.

Managers of multicultural teams should also be aware that non-native speakers may lack oral confidence and be hesitant to contribute, particularly in public settings. Consequently, native-speaking group members might dominant discussions and exert greater influence on group decisions and outcomes. Also, studies on language bias report people are less likely to believe factual information when it is delivered by someone whose accent is different than the dominant accent, even when alerted to the phenomenon, and non-native speakers are judged at lower levels of competence compared with native speakers. These biases, which are largely unconscious, may lead to the views of minority members being discounted or rejected.

Linguistic bias is a lost opportunity. Researchers at the University of Chicago have reported that individuals make more rational decisions when solving a problem in a non-native tongueThinking in a foreign language triggers more deliberate and conscious thought whereas thinking in one’s native tongue activates automatic and emotional processing of information. Linguistic diversity may be particularly valuable in high-stakes decision-making and when a workgroup is under pressure. Stress can trigger a reliance on automatic processing, but this is less likely for non-native speakers. When a team is faced with a difficult problem or a high stakes decision, it could be particularly beneficial to pay attention to the perspectives and ideas of members with linguistically diverse backgrounds.

(vi) Group processes that are biased against introverts

The personality trait of extraversion-introversion refers to how individuals direct their attention.

Extraversion involves an outward orientation and tends to manifest in outgoing, assertive, talkative, energetic behavior. Extraverts enjoy being around others and thrive in group settings. They enjoy working in groups and are active participants in group discussions and activities.

Introversion involves an inward orientation and manifests in more reserved and solitary behavior. Introverts are interested in their own thought processes and are reflective. They enjoy working alone and are drawn towards activities and careers involving reading, writing or technology. Susan Cain’s 2012 book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking reports that studies indicate 33–50% of the American population are introverts. Particular subpopulations have higher prevalence, with a 6000-subject MBTI-based survey indicating that 60% of attorneys, and 90% of intellectual property attorneys, are introverts. Introverts like to observe situations and reflect on their thought processes before they participate or contribute to discussions.

Common workgroup practices like brainstorming and active debate can exclude introverts. In meetings, introverts tend to be reserved because they are listening and processing the information before forming and stating their ideas. Quite often, however, their silence is assumed to be disinterest or incompetence. Biased mindsets and work practices like brainstorming or aggressive workplace debate result in the insights and ideas of introverts being excluded from group discussion, decision-making, and problem-solving.

(vii) Group processes that do not make accommodations for hearing, speech, learning, autism spectrum, and mental health disorders 

A mature worker once shared with me that he could not keep up with the pace of the conversation set by younger members of his team. One in six Australians is affected by hearing loss, expected to increase to one in four by 2050 driven by an aging population. Employees with speech impairments, conservatively estimated at 5% of the Australian population, may also experience difficulties contributing to traditional group processes as might individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, which affects 10% of the Australian population, and individuals with autism spectrum disorder, representing 1 in 150 Australians. Individuals with mental health disorders may find group settings and traditional group processes anxiety-inducing and it can be difficult for them to participate in workgroup activity.

(viii) Poor onboarding

Although studies link connection-based onboarding to employee retention and performance over the longer term, many organisations don’t help new employees develop connections or have strategies in place to foster a sense of belonging in new recruits. The focus is on getting new hires ramped up and contributing rather than making connections. The impact on new hires is a hesitation to commit to a long-term career at the company, significantly impacting new-joiner retention rates. One-third of approximately 1,000 respondents to a February 2014 survey by BambooHR said they had quit a job within six months of starting it. Between 16-17 percent of the respondents left between the first week and the third month of starting their new job. Of those respondents who left within the first six months, thirty-eight percent of workers said assignment of an employee buddy or mentor would have been helpful, 17 percent said “a friendly smile or helpful co-worker would have made all the difference,” 12 percent said they wanted to be “recognised for [their] unique contributions,” and 9 percent said they wanted more attention from the “manager and co-workers.”

(ix) Lack of opportunities for social interactions

Affective-based trust between group members predicts the sharing of information, which is essential to group functioning and performance. Affective-based trust is emotional and forms as a result of frequent positive interpersonal interactions where individuals share personal information and form friendships. Affective-based trust improves intimacy and openness. When group members develop affective-based trust, they are less concerned about exposing their weaknesses or vulnerabilities and less suspicious of other members’ intentions. Affective-based trust reduces the risk of fault-lines and promotes the open sharing of knowledge and ideas. Affective-based trust has been shown to have a stronger positive relationship with team performance than cognitive-based trust.

Fostering affective-based trust through building personal relationships should be a focus of work groups, however, today’s agile, fast-paced and flexible workplaces decrease opportunities for establishing personal connections among colleagues. Heavy workloads, tight-deadlines, hot-desking, and flexible scheduling mean that employees spend less time interacting with their colleagues on a personal level than previous generations of workers.

(x) Geographically dispersed teams

Developing affective-based trust can be more challenging for geographically dispersed virtual teams because opportunities for face-to-face interactions are fewer.

(xi) Limitations of communication technology 

Virtual communication technologies that simulate face-to-face communications can overcome some of the communication and integration problems that affect virtual groups, but they are not a perfect substitute for direct interaction. Weak and unstable internet connections can limit the contributions of remote workers and threaten effective communication and information sharing among members of geographically dispersed teams.

Fostering belonging in diverse settings

Employers that are committed to inclusion can foster a sense of belonging by promoting psychological safety, inclusive and accessible group processes, and the formation of friendships or other interpersonal connections from the point of onboarding and throughout the employee life-cycle.

(i) High psychological safety

Research shows that if you want to create teams capable of innovating you need diversity. But diversity, per se, if not enough. Without psychological safety, individuals may be reluctant to speak up and you may miss out on breakthrough ideas, learning from mistakes, and the raising of valid concerns or red flags. By creating a team climate that reduces interpersonal risks, the team will be rewarded with better decisions, creative collaboration, motivated members, and improved performance.

Psychological safety supports inclusion by creating a safe place for individuals to bring their whole selves to work—an environment where members from non-majority groups can share novel ideas and perspectives free from the risk of ridicule, rejection or penalty. In a psychologically safe environment, employees are less likely to cover or mask their differences.

Leader behaviours are critical for fostering psychological safety. A single instance of a team leader critiquing, talking over, or otherwise dismissing a concern raised by a junior team member can damage perceptions of interpersonal safety for the whole team. This is why perceptions of psychological safety can vary markedly across departments or workgroups. However, because psychological safety is a group-level phenomenon, what matters is not only the behaviours of leaders but also the behaviours of all group members. Leaders must pay attention to the responses of others as well as their own responses.

Techniques for nurturing psychological safety include rewarding contributions from diverse members; fostering a culture of respectful debate; leadership story-telling and humility; leaders that practice emotional regulation and remain positive, open and approachable in stressful situations; providing room to experiment and fail and avoiding blame; modeling attention to outlying information.

(ii) Culturally inclusive group processes

Cultural diversity creates challenges for group-work, but when managed effectively, culturally diverse groups outperform culturally homogenous groups. Culturally diverse groups have access to a greater diversity of thought which can enhance decision-making quality and creative problem-solving. Culturally diverse workgroups can also better understand the needs and concerns of diverse consumer groups and other stakeholders.

Effective management of multicultural work groups requires that each group member is given an opportunity to contribute. This can be achieved by sending meeting agendas in advance, scheduling a time in the agenda for every member to contribute, and consciously inviting every member of the group to contribute. It also involves actively monitoring and regulating the contributions made by more dominant members of the group to ensure every member has access to equal airtime.

Managers of multicultural work groups can decrease the risk of tension and fault-lines developing and unlock the strategic potential of cultural diversity, by employing eight key practices: creating shared norms, increasing explicit communication, fostering friendships, encouraging information-sharing, strengthening group identity, developing cultural intelligence, undertaking regular progress reviews, and managing conflict cooperatively.

(iii) Linguistically inclusive group processes

Native speakers must slow down and speak clearly, without the use of colloquialisms, idioms or slang when interacting with non-native speaking group members. Recapping key points orally and in writing, and seeking to clarify understanding, helps all members of the group to ensure that their message has been correctly understood by other members. Both native and non-native speakers should be encouraged to ask questions. Asking questions to clarify understanding should be a shared norm that is encouraged and meetings must allow extra time for this. Using pictorials and charts can also be helpful when there is a large number of non-native speakers.

(iv) Inclusive virtual teaming

The risk of weak group identity is higher for virtual workgroups. Group members outside of head-office can feel excluded, unappreciated and that they do not have as much power as members located at head office. Conversely, head office group members might incorrectly perceive that offshore members are not contributing. Managers can improve inclusion and reduce the sense of power imbalance through regular contact with offshore group members, making an effort to understand the conditions locally that might be inhibiting their contribution to the group, including offshore offices in important decisions, keeping offshore staff updated, and providing regular feedback and acknowledgment of their contributions and achievements to the wider group.

Managers of virtual global groups should pay attention to how inequalities in communication patterns may exclude some members and reinforce fault-lines. As an example, when managers respond to offshore emails only during their own working hours, this may result in some members waiting over a day for a response. Also, when the timing of group meetings always requires the same location to ring in after-hours to accommodate for the temporal preferences of other locations—usually head office—resentment and exclusion can result.

Communication protocols are particularly relevant in virtual groups. It can be helpful to set prescriptive protocols regarding communication types—when to use teleconferencing, phone or email, or when to cc or bcc email messages.

Managers of virtual teams can promote belonging by deliberating seeking ways to connect virtual team members. This might involve business travel to different offices, other mobility practices such as job rotations or short-term assignments, off sites that offer geographically dispersed team members an opportunity to connect with colleagues face-to-face, establishing ways to foster water-cooler style conversations through social media, encouraging regular phone or video ‘check-ins’ with and among remote workers, and allowing time at the beginning of tele or video conferences for non-work related conversation.

(v) Accommodations for workers on flexible working arrangements

Communication protocols and creating opportunities for social interaction are also relevant for teams with members on flexible working schedules. In addition to guidelines regarding when to use different communication modes, care must be taken to ensure workers on flexible working arrangements are not disadvantaged because meetings are scheduled outside of their working hours. Restricting team meetings to between 10 am and 3 pm can be helpful, as can be rotating the day of the week that meetings are held to guard against some members regularly being left out of group discussions because meetings are scheduled on a non-working day. To reduce the isolation of team members working from home, balancing time out of the office with time in the office should be encouraged along with joining in social activities and staying up-to-date with developments across the organisation through social media and other communication channels. Remote workers should be encouraged to regularly ‘check-in’ with colleagues and engage in social chat as well as task-related discussion.

(vi) Introvert-inclusive workgroup processes

The strengths of introverts—active listening, high-quality information processing, reflection—may be overlooked when group processes are biased towards extraversion. Managers can better accommodate for personality differences by structuring discussions to allow time for individual reflection and seeking contributions from individuals outside of group settings. Other strategies include sending meeting agendas in advance and providing introverts with a physical space for quiet reflection, especially after they have spent time in a socially demanding setting.

(vii) Accessible workgroup processes

Accessible group processes seek to remove barriers to participation facing persons with hearing, speech, learning, autism spectrum, and mental health disorders. Accessible group processes require attention to the pace and structure of group discussions; the format, timing, and distribution of supporting materials; communications technology; translation and other services.

(viii) Developing interpersonal connections and friendships

Organisations should offer individuals from different social groups opportunities to develop intimate friendships over an extended period. Relational activities might involve social get-togethers and recreational activities, ensuring there is adequate time for interpersonal dialogue on top of work responsibilities, formal team-building initiatives, and mentoring. Open office designs that increase the likelihood of water-cooler style interactions are also helpful. Activities that encourage diverse individuals to share information about their unique backgrounds, experiences, and skills promotes individuation of outgroup members such that they come to be considered as individuals rather than as a member of a broader social category. Under this approach, the focus moves from “one of them” to “you and me”. There is another mechanism by which relational-based activities decrease the tendency for bias. Studies have shown that social categories can become more inclusive by inducing a positive mood state. There are a couple of reasons why this occurs. Firstly, we are attracted to people that we associate with feeling good. Secondly, a positive mood enhances our cognitive flexibility and leads to broader and more inclusive categorisations.

When planning and scheduling social or team-building activities, care must be taken to ensure they are inclusive. This involves a consideration of dietary needs, religious observances, caring needs or other demands outside of working hours, accessibility, and personality. Passive events like movie screenings can alienate some employees. It can be challenging for people to make new acquaintances in general—especially those who are more introverted. Add in factors like language barriers, cultural differences, biases, and stereotypes, and it becomes clear why casual networking events can feel inaccessible to people from underrepresented backgrounds. Being the odd one out in a social setting can trigger uncomfortable feelings of awkwardness, nervousness, stress, embarrassment, and loneliness and can cause members of underrepresented groups to avoid those situations. A better approach is to offer activities that structure interactions without triggering social anxiety and that are considerate of diverse personalities, languages, cultures, ethnicities, and physical abilities. Examples include community volunteering or potlucks where people from different cultural heritages share dishes and the stories behind them.

Formal mentoring programs are also useful for encouraging interpersonal connections. A mentor is distinct to a line manager and provides advice and guidance around career and personal development goals. For diverse employees, a mentor may also be someone who is familiar with the challenges that underrepresented members of the workforce face, and who can provide advice and guidance on how to navigate them.

(ix) Inclusive onboarding

Inclusive onboarding is critical for fostering belonging from day one. Strategies include:

  •      Making new hires aware of your commitment to diversity and inclusion and providing them with a copy of your diversity strategy, code of conduct, and details regarding how to raise a grievance
  •      Inviting new hires to join employee resource or affinity groups
  •      Connecting new hires to diversity champions
  •      Sharing details of resources, policies, and facilities offered to diverse talent such as prayers rooms, gender-neutral bathrooms, flexible leave policies
  •      Providing an organisational chart and mapping out key stakeholders for the performance of the new joiner’s job tasks and reporting lines
  •      Detailing the roles and responsibilities of team members
  •      Detailing your business strategy, priorities, and performance against targets
  •      Providing an overview of group processes including how team members communicate and work together
  •      Encouraging existing team members to reach out to and engage with new joiners formally and informally
  •      Explaining the meaning of any acronyms or jargon used frequently by their colleagues or other stakeholders
  •      Implementing a buddy system where new hires are paired with longer-tenured employees who will answer questions, make introductions, show the new hires around, and explain company culture and values
  •      Creating batched starting days so that new hires have someone who is experiencing the onboarding process with them
  •      Setting up one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders
  •      Encouraging questions and allow time for employees to get up to speed with the way things are done or to read through background material useful for the performance of their role or understanding the broader context of their work
  •      Scheduling manager check-ins with new hires as they settle into their role at regular intervals, particularly during the first three month

Related Reading

Felicity Menzies is CEO and Principal Consultant at Include-Empower.Com, a diversity and inclusion consultancy with expertise in inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, cultural intelligence and inclusion, gender equity, empowering diverse talent. Felicity is an accredited facilitator with the Cultural Intelligence Centre and the author of A World of Difference. Felicity has over 15 years of experience working with and managing diverse workforces in blue chip companies and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand. Felicity also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.