There is much being written about how we can re-define our businesses to emerge stronger from the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. We are aware of how things have changed and how we need to drive innovation and creativity in the digital space. We have worked out how we can promote and support new more agile and flexible ways of working. There is also some very positive survey data emerging to suggest that more and more business leaders are taking a pragmatic approach in the review of their people policies, and how the organisation can take forward steps to flatten the traditional hierarchical structure which has prevented accessibility and transparency in the past.
Our workplace represents an individual eco-system that creates a sustainable ‘habitat’ where we depend on each other and our surroundings to survive and flourish. This very eco-system provides the consistent ‘flow’ of cultural oxygen needed to support healthy organisational, team and individual growth. Without this flow we struggle to envelop the principles of inclusion within the workspace and we allow *dead spots of complacency, confusion, and dis-engagement to form naturally. It is in these dead spots where we see the message becoming blurred and opportunities to challenge the negative narrative diminish. The inclusive eco-system not only provides a flow of cultural oxygen, but it also creates a psychologically safe environment promoting stability, adaptability, and resilience, allowing the negative to flow out of the business. The creation of our inclusive eco-system isn’t a leadership thing, it’s a cultural thing, and with it comes everything an employee needs to connect with their organisation, survive, feel valued and develop.
The challenge to us all is creating the right level of flow within our businesses, too strong colleagues will be swept away without the right leadership and management support, too weak increases the risk of dis-engagement. We also must be prepared to make adjustments to the flow in support of business change and the evolution of more complex employee needs. We are without doubt faced with the immediate focus on employee wellbeing and mental health first aid, as our colleagues start to make the journey back to the office and come to terms with the impact of the last 12 months on their lives.
Educating our leaders, making them more accountable and available whilst developing engaging managers to role model the key principles will help to build the right inclusive eco-system, but it does not stop there. We must create an inclusion filter to address any explicit or implicit bias and to maintain real clarity of thought and purpose in everything we do. Inclusion therefore becomes a core competency, measuring employee performance, behaviours and attitudes in support of the inclusive eco-system. Everyone must be given the opportunity to support and contribute towards a healthy thriving eco-system and by creating an inclusive recruitment and induction process we can build that road to retention.
The average person can survive for three weeks without food, three days without water, but only three minutes without oxygen, surely this provides us with all the inspiration we need to look at our current eco-systems and explore how we can prevent those *dead spots from forming. Let us find ways to make the workplace a place for learning, growth, and listening by allowing the flow of inclusivity to reach out and influence everyone.
The author, John Neal is Head of Learning and Development with Maytrix Group Ltd and is passionate about team optimisation. If you would like further insight or support, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org