30 October, 2020
Companies that have built an inclusive culture are twice as likely to attain or surpass financial targets and 1.7 times as likely to be efficient and innovative. They also have a higher likelihood of attaining better business results compared to those that haven’t embraced inclusivity. Due to these benefits, 71 percent of organizations yearn to make inclusivity part of their culture in the future. A significant contribution to this is the hiring of culture managers who mainly focus on establishing an environment that helps people feel included within the organization. Unfortunately, many organizations are yet to make any significant leaps towards building an inclusive culture. Creating effective employee networks is the most significant stride towards cultivating a stronger culture
Employee networks: What are they?
The concept of an employee network is pretty straightforward. It’s a unique space in which workers who share similar life experiences, beliefs, and identity come together and organize events, engage in serious discussions, raise awareness, and champion for change. With help of culture managers, these networks offer support, foster career development, and promote personal growth at work, regardless of company size. They set up supportive environments and give employees a sense of belonging.
What are its benefits?
Employee networks significantly impact both the personal and professional lives of employees by providing them with a strong feeling of connection and belonging within the work environment. Culture managers offer every person a chance to build strong connections with their peers outside the workplace around issues and concerns that are crucial to them. They empower specific groups in the workplace. The good thing about these networks is that people from different cultures and backgrounds who work in the same workplace are able to come together and connect.
Employee networks also play an educational role. They train people to become responsible citizens by enlightening them on customs, way of life and conducts. On top of strengthening connections and promoting education, these networks provide an exciting way to appreciate and celebrate diversity. This provides your employees with an opportunity to congregate and celebrate annual events.
In addition to bringing employees together, meaningful networks will also nurture a more inclusive culture within your company. As a leader, you need to come up with innovative ways for teams to share, discover new things, and be motivated, so that you can turn your vision into reality. This is especially important when you are dealing with a diverse team who share different cultures and beliefs. You can start by building collaborative spaces that can foster teamwork and encourage knowledge sharing. Then provide your teams with all the tools they need to communicate and collaborate effectively. You can also train them on how to plan, organize, and maintain files, including how to use a zip file opener efficiently.
How to Set Up Employee Networks
Now that you have a clear understanding of what employee networks are and their role in cultivating an inclusive culture in an organization, let’s now look at how to set them up. Here steps to follow:
- Establish Genuine Interest
- Choose a Name and Clear Purpose
- Establish a Structure for the Employee Network
- Provide Support and Resources
- Launch the Group
For you to build a meaningful employee network, you must appoint culture managers who will help establish genuine interest among team members. And the best way to go about this is to create a network around topics or issues that are of interest to your workforce, and that should include everyone’s in the team. It’s also important to ensure employees are involved in every step of establishing the network. In fact, you should take a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach when forming the group and overall workforce management.
Pick a name that reflects what the group is all about and what it plans to accomplish. Founding members can help you come up with a good, appealing name. After settling on a name, the next step is to create a mission statement. The mission statement should be brief and should state why the group exists and what it intends to accomplish.
It’s imperative to create a structure and some guidelines to guide the operation of the group. Some of the things to consider when establishing a structure include:
· Main tasks and people responsible
· Frequency of the meetings
· The venue of the meetings and processes like minute taking
· Measures to help members speak freely
· Publicizing events
· Guidelines for elections and choosing new leaders
Employee groups require support and resources to be successful. At this stage, culture managers ask employees the types of activities they want to arrange and allot a budget that’ll enable them to achieve that. Other resources they might need include:
· A meeting room
· An online discussion forum
· An online space to publicize their events
· Technical support
· A time within working hours reserved for group activities
Also, let’s not forget that with the new developments with the COVID-19 crisis, it has become inevitable that proper hygienic supplies and infrastructure be available to the workers. In this context, based on what was mentioned above, you should ensure that:
● A large room with enough distance for each member is provided;
● The provided room is disinfected;
● There are antibacterials around the room;
● If you want to giveaways some brochures or leaflets, make sure to send them via email or through QR codes to avoid any contact among participants.
But in worse case scenarios, where these meetings can not happen in person, then you have to provide the workers with remote tools for networking. Examples include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or any other tool that they see fit and appropriate for their gatherings.
Once you’re convinced everything is ready and founding members have given you a go-ahead, you can launch the group to the entire organization. Give it as much publicity as possible. Talk about it during company meetings, incorporate the link on the company’s website, and company-wide emails. Explain the benefits of the group to employees clearly and understandably. The goal here is to inspire interest and get more people to join.
Innovation thrives when diversity and inclusivity are in the workplace environment. And the best way to nurture an inclusive culture at work is through employee networks. That’s why business leaders should help establish employee groups and encourage everyone to join and actively participate. They should also provide the resources and support that these networks need to thrive.
Communication, Culture, International Business