Careers

Diversity, inclusivity and belonging crucial at the workplace where four generations now transact

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Diversity, inclusivity and belonging crucial at the workplace where four generations now transact. PHOTO | POOL

Last week, I attended the HR leaders conference in Istanbul Turkey, a country with a tangible entrepreneurial spirit, an amazing work ethic, and beautiful landscapes.

Other than the food, which posed a great challenge, the meeting came with much learning on how human resources transact at the global level and the key takeaway point was on diversity, inclusivity and belonging.

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As curtains roll down on HR partnering after a decade of supporting businesses through enabling leaders to transact around people and culture management, the world is already running with the agile HR courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic that muscled firms to think outside and far from the box.

The pandemic took us straight to the execution of the wishlist we had imagined for some time, the years we were told of the gig economy, talents operating remotely, and the need for 8 am to 5 pm fading as companies rally around the new realisation.

This is a season that favoured Gen Z, which I had discussed a few weeks ago — they no longer accept offers that exclude flexi working arrangement, a portfolio of benefits, and an outright declaration that they will be allowed to be independent thinkers on the how of work.

The demographics now point to the fact that we have four generations transacting together at the workplace, these four profiles are defined by different priorities, perceptions and even perspectives of work and our single most duty as leaders is to align them to the vision and strategy in their uniqueness.

Companies are now faced with varied ideas and opportunities to view items from different angles, and the more positioned the company is, in providing platforms and tools to merge the four profiles around the common purpose, the more they will benefit.

When we talk of diversity it’s those differences and priorities being coded to a common agenda.

That means as we are entertaining talks on savings, medical, and pension to the ageing, we are also listening to the Gen Z who are struggling to understand why they have to contribute to the pension to cure what will come in four decades yet they have their priorities around personal development, buying clothes and hosting friends at the weekend that requires money now.

As the older employees and most are in senior management now still enjoy the joy that came with 8 am-5 pm and a formal work ethic, the younger ones are screaming for flexibility and autonomy in transactions. These younger profiles are not only there to be seen but they want to be involved in everything that affects them.

If we have to win the talent game, then we must allow the manifestation of different group behaviours and actions.

Social groups

Each group is seeking validation and this poses a challenge to firms to review policies and systems to allow and advocate for diversity and inclusion in groups, committees, projects teams and even social groups and this will enhance belonging.

When we have different people in one setting, the company will benefit from enriched decision-making, employee engagement and increased productivity.

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Employees that feel they belong will stay longer and are committed to the vision of the company.

Every company should have a fireside discussion to call out the benefits of diversity, inclusivity and belonging. and how that will build a superior value proposition that will allow firms to attract and retain high performers through a provision of an environment where everyone’s thoughts, ideas, and perspective matter. An environment that customises every employee experience regardless of physical, social, and economic factors that separate us.

Kibet is the group human resources manager at Shared Services.