work life

Why is inclusion in the workplace even more important in 2022?

During the last years, diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been a hot discussion topic. But in the post-pandemic era, what is the true meaning and value of these terms?

It’s a fact; work patterns and office environments have changed. Flexibility, remote work and mental wellness have become top priorities for organizations and employees. So in a world that keeps evolving how can businesses avoid cliches and really bring inclusion and diversity in life?

Markas’ HR, Selection & Organization Manager, Alessandro Cench answers our questions and shares his point of view on top 2022 inclusion priorities as well as the challenges that employers need to face. 
Inclusion in the workplace in 2022
Why inclusion is important?

Inclusion in the workplace has always been important. However, now more than ever, building an inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do but it’s a must-have!

We saw that one key factor that shaped 2021 was ‘The Great Resignation’, a trend that led many to reevaluate their work priorities and quit their job. This not only led to talent-shortage for most companies but also made employees focus more on well-being and work-life balance. Now, people seek mentally healthy work environments where they feel good, motivated and accepted.

And committing to an inclusive work culture can definitely help companies develop a sense of ‘togetherness’, empowerment and consequently combat ‘The Great Resignation’. 

In other words, creating an organizational culture in which ‘Chiellinigkeit’, the ability to do your job while at the same time enjoying it as much as possible, plays a central part is crucial. It can have a huge impact on a company’s performance not only when it comes to innovation or creativity but also productivity.
Inclusion in the workplace in 2022 - happiness
What are the key steps for building a truly inclusive workplace?

There are a few key elements that contribute to an inclusive work culture. First of all, a ‘gentle leadership’ is necessary; a leader who can create a work environment where people can be heard, make their suggestions, take their own initiatives and say openly their opinion.
Also a ‘collective leadership’ approach plays a pivotal role in creating an inclusive environment. ‘Collective leadership’ recognizes employees’ unique strengths, skills and talents. In this way people feel appreciated, trusted and valued and therefore they leverage their skills without feeling stressed or excluded.

Offering bespoke learning opportunities is equally important. Understanding what each employee is good at, helping them further develop their strengths and use them to their advantage and the organization’s advantage not only allows teams to achieve shared goals but also individual employees to be recognized .

Flexibility is also linked to inclusion. Allowing employees to have a choice as to where or when they will work can help parents, for instance, go back to work or minimize gender inequalities. Lack of flexibility not only can be stressful for employees but it does not allow companies to attract diverse talents.   
Inclusion in the workplace in 2022 - coworkers
Inclusion and balance in the workplace in 2022
Inclusion in the workplace in 2022 - office space
What are the biggest challenges that companies will need to face in 2022 in terms of inclusion?

The pandemic has definitely changed the way people and companies work. Hybrid work has become the norm. This definitely conveys a sense of trust and autonomy among employees. However, there is a significant risk: several consecutive months of remote work can reduce social interaction that helps people connect to each other and feel more accepted. Companies will need to invest in tech and find new ways that enable every employee to feel ‘included’.

Another risk factor are the clichés around diversity and inclusion. There should be consistency between what companies say they do and what they actually do, otherwise they risk losing their credibility towards their employees and other stakeholders.   
Unconscious bias, which is a natural human behavior, can be a hidden risk too. That’s why companies need to provide HR professionals or managers with adequate training and avoid, in this way, discrimination or exclusion.   

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