While diversity (be it age, religion, gender or culture) is important in the workplace, managing a heterogeneous workforce can be challenging. And with organisations increasingly taking on diverse employees, thanks in part to the ongoing globalisation, the problem will only get bigger.
When dealing with a diverse group, some managers and business owners adopt an attitude of “not seeing colour” which makes them prone to treating workers insensitively. Barriers will exist when you are dealing with a diverse workforce, but it is up to you to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately for a happy and cohesive workforce.
Here are five strategies for managing a diverse workforce, by Blue Collar People:
- Recognise the differences.Burying your head in the sand is not an option. You have to recognise that there exists differences between people, be they generational, gender, cultural, or religious. Recognise and celebrate the differences among your workers and encourage them to express their individualities. Ensure that your employees are not pigeonholed as their worth comes from more than their age or ethnicity.
- Acting uniformly and acting fairly are two different things, only one will enable you to deal with diversity in the workplace successfully.Don’t think that by treating everyone the same you’re respecting diversity and demonstrating a fair attitude. Treat people fairly instead and respect the differences that define who they are. For instance, do not schedule mandatory office meetings on religious holidays. This demonstrates insensitivity and could breed resentment as well as feelings of being left out in employees that cannot attend the meeting.
- Start with yourself. Diversity is an issue that you’ll have to manage in your workplace, and it all begins with managing your own behaviour and attitude. For instance, examine how you behave during job interviews. Do you make assumptions about applicants of a certain gender or ethnicity that the candidate must disprove or prove during the interview? How do you react to different styles of communication? Being self-aware is the starting point for developing a safe and fair workplace for a diverse workforce. Make sure you set a good example for your employees to emulate.
- Examine attitudes in employee assessments. As a business owner or manager, chances are that you already conduct employee assessments and reviews. When conducting these assessments, make sure to examine the attitudes of your employees, particularly how well they work with others.If during these reviews you notice that an employee is only delegating tasks to individuals of a certain gender, or a worker dismisses the ideas of individuals above or below a certain age,it is your duty to address the problem. Identify this kind of issues among your workers and bring them into the discussion when assessing their performance.
- Encourage employee interaction.Any diversity-related issues in your workforce should be discussed with the employees in a calm and non-confrontational way. Create programs that encourage workers with different backgrounds or from different generations to work together. By initiating this kind of interactions, employees are encouraged to learn more about their co-worker’s different communication styles, goals and talents.
Having a diverse workforce is inevitable, with continuous monitoring and sound management, however, you can ensure that the heterogeneous group of employees is able to work together for impressive business results.