Inclusive Workplaces Lead to Innovation and Performance


Every good manager wants to build teams that ensure a high-degree of productivity. However, some of them don’t really know how to achieve that.

According to a recent global report conducted by Catalyst and called “Inclusive Leadership: The View From Six Countries” there is only one solution: Help all your employees feel more included at work.

1.500 employees from China, Germany, Australia, India, Mexico and the United States have answered to the survey. The results show that employees who consider themselves included in the work environment will do whatever it takes to get the job done, overcoming all challenges. Moreover, they feel encouraged to share their ideas or innovative ways of getting work done and offer support to their colleagues. The support offered to employees is called by many researchers “team citizenship”.

In all the countries mentioned above, the more included employees felt, the more innovative and encouraged they were at their jobs. Here are some other findings of the survey:

In the United States, Germany and Australia, among the employees that considered themselves included, 19 to 22 percent of them self-reported innovation while 29 to 41 percent believed that team citizenship behavior is a part of their company.

In India, the perceptions of inclusion of employees accounted for approximately 62 percent of the self-reported innovation and 43 percent of team citizenship.

The strongest figures for the link between innovation and inclusion came from Mexico and China (only Shanghai was included). Their perception of inclusion accounted for 51 percent, respectively 78 percent when it comes to innovation and 60 percent and 71 percent of team citizenship.

So what do leaders have to do to increase the inclusion perception in their teams? The findings of Catalyst research are that belongingness and uniqueness are extremely important elements of inclusion. This means that both men and women considered they were included when they sensed they belong in the work environment, yet still feel unique.

Employees will always want to stand out in the crowd and receive credit where credit is due, but without feeling alienated. Managers should focus on uniqueness and belongingness simultaneously by focusing on the strong points of the individual without profiling them or making them feel uncomfortable in sharing ideas.

Never forget that small moments can have a great impact on innovation, productivity and performance. Leaders should always take into account all the aspects required to make employees feel both included and excluded. Inclusive leaders will always be able to create a more innovative and dynamic workplace where employees feel like they are part of a family and support each other.

The report identified four key leadership behaviors that led to employees feeling included:

1. The best way to empower your employees is to encourage them to work as a team and also lend them a hand so that they can excel at their job. Inclusive leaders do it, so should you. Moreover, they prefer to communicate effectively and avoid disparaging comments.

2. In addition, they create accountability and believe in the members of the team. They also hold employees responsible for the performance or lack thereof – only the performance they are able to control.

3. Inclusive leaders will also show courage. They will never be afraid to stand up for the members of the team and also to uphold their principles even at a personal risk.

4. Leaders will remain humble. When they make a mistake they should be the first ones to admit it and assume blame. Moreover, they should take into consideration other points of view because they very well know that multiple and different perspectives lead to better work.

How to determine how inclusive a leader you are? Go ahead and take the Catalyst quiz and find out!

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