We live in a world where people are simultaneously close and far apart. That can be taken in several different ways. We’re in constant contact with family, friends, and coworkers, but many of us are physically separated, working remotely.
In our multi-cultural consumer culture, we frequently consume media or other cultural icons that come from other countries (if you’ve ever had a taco, even from Taco Bell, you’ve eaten a part of Mexican culture). And thanks to the internet, we can explore an almost infinite number of cultures, living vicariously through their digital media.
But how does this translate to the workplace? And does embracing multi-cultural workplace result in a more productive workforce? We believe it does, particularly in light of a workforce that’s not only becoming more culturally and geographically diverse. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that Hispanics will make up about 20 percent of the overall workforce by 2024. And, according to a report from the Society of Human Resources Management, even U.S. companies with a global footprint have a significant amount of their labor based in other countries. This isn’t just manufacturing, mind you; it’s a shift in how and where work is done. And with remote work quickly becoming the norm, it’s likely that workers will become even more geographically spread out.
Companies that don’t embrace this change will likely face challenges to maintaining growth. Why? Because businesses run on people and their relationships.
So, how do companies strengthen employee relationships in this new, seemingly fractured world? Here are a few ideas.
This sounds cliché, but it’s a requirement for today’s modern businesses. What does that mean, though? It means developing diversity programs that have a real impact on the workforce and business outcomes. It means developing policies that ensure diversity in every aspect of the business, from hiring to sales to team development, etc. Of course, diversity needs to start at the top, and firm leadership needs to reflect those values. Creating a diversity advisory council or similar type of employee board can help to ensure that diversity issues are being addressed and promoted throughout the firm.
Foster Open Communication
Open communication is the bedrock of any healthy relationship, and it’s no different whether it’s at home or in the workplace. To help foster a company culture that embraces diversity, it’s important for everyone to feel they can communicate openly. What’s more, communication is just the initial touchpoint. Employees need to feel heard and have a platform to express themselves, both to their peers and to their superiors. That sometimes means having difficult discussions, but only by having these (and having a place to do that) can workers gain an understanding of each other.
Encourage Cross-cultural Sharing
Sharing is caring, as they say, and sharing aspects of a person’s culture can go a long way to help coworkers understand and empathize with each other. This, of course, needs to move beyond the traditional pot luck (impossible to do in today’s environment), and more into substantive and meaningful programs that empower people to share their culture. That could be giving a brown bag lunch webinar, but it could also be one-on-one conversations. The added bonus: Stronger relationships among coworkers.
Getting employees all on the same page might be difficult, but it’s a worthy task. Luckily, Zenvoy can help your organization accomplish its diversity goals through its networking and community platform. Contact us to see how you can use Zenvoy to strengthen employee relationships, cross-culturally and across the board.