Create a culture of belonging to boost innovation and purpose

Create a culture of belonging to boost innovation and purpose

24/02/2021

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Originally posted on the Financial Times

 

In a blog last year, Dr Annette Bramley, the director of the N8 Research Partnership, a Northern UK university collaboration body, made the argument that creating a sense of ‘belonging’ is critical for an organisation’s performance and progress.

 

In doing so, she addressed the heart of today’s diversity debate: “Belonging is inherently inclusive and is an approach to equality and diversity issues that encompasses both majority and minority groups… It’s for this reason that belonging is being hailed as the evolution needed to progress equality, diversity and inclusion at work.”

 

It’s not enough to hire diverse tech talent and feel like you’ve done your bit, the next critical stage is to appreciate and nurture the talented people you have in order for them to stay.

 

In a recent survey, we found that a staggering 59% of 18-24-year-old tech employees have wanted to leave their job because of the company’s culture. We also found that 71% of 18-24-year-old tech workers have felt uncomfortable in a job because of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background or a neurodevelopmental condition.

 

Those young people clearly felt that they worked in companies that did not have adequate inclusion strategies in place, never mind the support systems to help them thrive.

 

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A company can’t expect to thrive merely by attracting diversity into its workplace without fostering inclusivity, and that is about listening and allowing employees to be their authentic selves.

 

Finding the right technology talent can be hard, so it makes no sense to let it wither, especially as sourcing and integrating new talent costs money and time and, perhaps more importantly, with the demand for talent rising, finding replacements is now more difficult.

 

It’s imperative, therefore, that part of any strategy includes approaches to development and retention. Helping your people grow and develop not only keeps them around for longer but also strengthens a company. Further, by retaining talented employees, companies build a strong talent pipeline and save yet more time and money.

 

RETAINING DIVERSE JUNIOR TALENT

 

Adam Naor, a tech talent and start-ups adviser, who previously worked for Google, recently wrote that companies must think holistically about their approach in a post-Covid-19 era: “People will want a good salary, a good manager, and a good culture. What will change is how we work, the mediums we use to communicate, our attire, and the underlying values underpinning work culture.”

 

Worth bearing in mind when you consider that by the year 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials and Gen Z, so it will be essential for businesses to ensure they are catering to their expectations. It has been shown that around 47% of millennials actively look for diversity and inclusion when considering potential employers.

 

So, there are some key considerations in improving retention. Companies which are successful in retaining their employees have an inclusive onboarding process and ensure that their new hires feel integrated properly.

 

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They also address unconscious biases and ensure behaviours don’t create barriers to growth, knowing that everyone has a role to play and needs to be encouraged in that role to the best of their ability.

 

They create communities within their organisation, supplying resources to aid support and friendship, while making sure managers are trained to lead diverse teams. Good organisations make growth and development opportunities transparent and they also factor in mentoring to help with advancement and address individual needs. Many companies are also introducing personalised retention plans, which include keep in touch meetings to monitor and aid improvement.

 

People who feel a strong sense of belonging in their workplace feel at home and less likely to leave. They are therefore more productive, more likely to contribute at their full potential. This inclusion engenders strength and diversity is what everyone has in common. The best companies know this and reap the rewards.