Ending Discrimination Culture in the Workplace

In her bestselling book You Do You(ish), TEDx speaker and career coach, Erin Hatzikostas, wrote: “Stop seeing it as office politics and start seeing it as office partnerships.”

Such a sentiment is borne out by research by the organisation Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF), who as part of their strategic plan have a Men As Allies strand, recently tasked with finding potential steps to take to improve gender balance in the office.

The business case for gender balance in leadership roles is compelling. As McKinsey’s 2018 study Delivering Through Diversity showed, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

Well go figure! Long ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton, no less, said: “When women participate in the economy everyone benefits.”

New research by LSE and WIBF has shone more light on this subject. Interviews with 79 City of London women revealed that they felt they needed to show sustained excellence in order to progress; faced more scrutiny than male peers; and mediocre male managers were blocking their development because they were more adept at office politics.

A quarter of the women in the survey were black who said they needed to work harder to receive the same recognition as men and white women. McKinsey’s 2018 study also found that for ethnic and cultural diversity, top-quartile companies were 33% more likely to outperform on profitability. This confirms that diversity is correlated to financial performance.

A shift must happen. Board rooms and senior leadership teams need to be more representative to help inspire future generations of talent by building in diversity from the ground up. It will help dispel workplace toxicity.

There are a number of different strategies that can also be adopted, including sourcing talent from diverse educational institutions; rethinking essential requirements in job descriptions to avoid deterring applicants; and working with recruiters or talent sourcing companies with shared values.

A workplace with an underlying culture of discrimination is storing up trouble. It will be difficult to recruit and retain talent and attract and keep business, investment or customers. Mediocre managers, male or female, fuel the fire. They create barriers to open communication and inclusivity when employees should be able to speak up, share their views, offer ideas, be valued, recognised and rewarded, which engenders a positive company culture – but only if leadership acts on it. Peer to peer recognition is also statistically proven to have a positive effect on employee performance and happiness.

Earlier this year Wrkit, spoke to a female business leader about her experience. She advised mentoring between genders and female-female to unlock impact and create alliances. She concluded: “Leaders, whether male or female, need to open the doors wider to give women that chance to prove themselves. When we do this more often, I believe the culture will be enriched for our doing so.”

Are Staff Equipped To Handle The New World Of Work?

Following months of frenzied media debate it is clear that, for many businesses, remote working is here to stay in some capacity. Whether this means working from home permanently, or in a hybrid fashion for a couple of days each week, the way we work will look very different to how it did in years past.

While workers will see a great many benefits to this more flexible world of work, this cannot come at the expense of worker productivity or, more importantly, wellbeing. Unfortunately, our recent Global Working From Home Survey indicates that, unless action is taken, this may very well come to pass.

Specifically, our research indicates that UK workers overwhelmingly believe that they are not equipped to work from home permanently, with workers scoring only 1.6/10 – a significantly low reading – for the affirmation “I have the tools I need to do my job from home”. What’s more, there appears to be a disconnect between how the public responded to our survey, and how they actually feel.

In our survey, our respondents actually responded positively to the affirmation around being adequately equipped to work from home, scoring this at 8.4/10 – more than five times higher than the score above when you take into account the unique Implicit Reaction Time (IRT)* scale we have used for this research.  

This is a concerning finding, given it indicates that staff surveys across the country may be susceptible to similar “false positives” and, subsequently, a significant shortfall in equipment provision may be going unnoticed. Moreover, it may indicate that, while employees want to work from home, they may be struggling with aspects of the remote working environment such as limited work space and childcare, signalling that employers may need to rethink their benefits provision in favour of solutions that better fit the needs of their workforce.

Looking at the knock-on effect of this shortfall, whether this be in terms of equipment or environment, there is a clear correlation with (remote) workplace stress. In our survey, UK workers scored substantially lower than their counterparts across the globe when it came to managing stress levels, with UK workers rating their capacity to manage stress while working from home at 5.1/10, compared with the global reading of 7.2/10.

Given that the national rate of work-related stress, anxiety and depression has skyrocketed in recent years according to the HSE, employers would do well to pinpoint elements of the job that may be causal factors, and look to better support their staff in these areas wherever possible. Investing in the tools and platforms staff need to do their jobs effectively and (where possible) stress-free is a clear step towards this, which is highly likely to pay for itself many times over in the long run.

Simply enough,while it is encouraging to see that businesses are increasingly adopting more flexible approaches to working patterns, such as hybrid working, employers must now ensure that these changes amount to more than just lip service.

If businesses are to make the permanent leap to remote working in any kind of meaningful way, they must provide realistic employee provisions to ensure that they support their staff with the tools and technology they need to work from home effectively. After all, a business is only as strong as its people, and staff morale and wellbeing are paramount.

Interested in finding out more about how the team at WRKIT can help your business to provide world-class support to its remote staff? Visit https://wrkit.com

Keeping Employees Engaged This Summer

For many organisations employee engagement and productivity can decrease at this time of year. Summer months mean summer holidays, erratic working hours and a distracted work force. Here’s a few ideas to help keep your team engaged when there’s so much distraction:

  1. First Day of Summer Freedom – A common moral boosting benefit is to give employees the freedom to leave work the first day of the year that it reaches 20 degrees. This is a cost-effective way of lifting everyone’s spirits.
  2. Free Summer Fridays –In a recent article, USA Today said that of 200 employers surveyed in the USA, 42% were offering Summer Fridays this year. That being either Friday’s off or half days. If you notice your team lacking focus on Friday afternoons this could be something worth considering.
  3. Offer Flexitime – Make life easier for your employees by offering flexible hours and the ability to work from home one or two days a week. A May survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that 39% of workers are looking for flexible schedules at this time of year. Allowing employees to create their own work schedule facilitates all important family time and supports a better work life balance.
  4. Sports Day/Summer party – Remember sports day in school and how excited everyone got? Try this out within the company. Hire a local sports ground and arrange mini tournaments – three-legged race, potato sack races, five aside etc. Include food and drinks to make it a full-blown Summer party.
  5. Surprise them with Ice-cream: It’s an easy thing to do, in a small company just grab an ice-cream for everyone and surprise them during their working day. Larger companies, book an ice-cream van to visit the offices. It’s a clever way to bring a little joy to the workplace.
  6. Summer Dress Code – This won’t be suitable for every industry but if possible relax the usual dress code to allow for more casual and comfortable attire. Tried and tested by global leading tech companies this is a cost free Summer per that could make a real difference to employee attitudes.

No matter what you choose to do, be sure to take the company pulse so you know what your team are thinking. Meet for performance check-ups or use pulse surveys which provide invaluable feed-back and offer managers a great opportunity to stay ‘in-the-loop’.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit