Compare and contrast various methods for creating an environment that is effective in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce
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Compare and contrast various methods for creating an environment that is effective in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Analyze the associated challenges in implementing steps to promote a diverse workforce and synthesize your findings into recommendations for organizational leaders.
Diversity means understanding, accepting and appreciating individual differences. In a workforce it can be described as a work environment that has employees with a wide range of characteristics. These characteristics should not be limited to gender, race, origin or topographical location of a person. Diversifying a workforce can help greatly especially in marketing products so as to be able to identify a target market and make more profits as this is the overall goal of the company (Singh, 2004). Diversification brings into the company a great pool of talents and ideas that can be used in a decision making in a company.
The opposite of a diverse workforce is a homogenous workforce where all the employees have the same characteristics. If diversity is handled or received well in the work place, it increases the profits of the firm since there is little or no labour turnover thus saving money used in advertising for vacancies and training by new employees every now and then (Pyburn, 2008). If employees work together for a long time then a bond is formed and this increases productivity and efficiency. This paper will compare and contrast various methods for creating an environment that is effective in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce and analyze the associated challenges in implementing steps to promote a diverse workforce. Finally, these findings will be use to synthesize recommendations for organizational leaders.
There exist various forms of diversity in the work. Religious diversity entails differences based on religious beliefs which include lack of religious affiliation as well. Diversity based on the race involves hiring people from various racial backgrounds. Diversity based on physical status entails hiring or recruiting individuals with various forms of physical abilities and disabilities as well. Diversity based on age involves hiring people of different ages because each age group has its own unique strengths and ideas. The other form of diversity is gender based where there is equitable placement of both genders in various organizational departments and fields. The final type of diversity is based on behavior where people can either be introverts or extroverts (Cunningham, 1999). These two groups have different ways of thinking and this is very essential because they can provide varying solutions to company problems or ideas. Thinking differences are mostly based on a person’s background, ethnicity etc.
Compare and Contrast Various Methods for Creating an Environment that is Effective in Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
Developing a diverse workforce in a previously homogenous workplace can be quite a difficult task as changes have to be made in every level starting from management, daily operations of the company, marketing strategies and company policies (Benson, 2002). There are various methods that can be employed in order for diversity to be successfully implemented and retained. Organizations can employ a strategic or tactical approach.
Strategic Approach vs Tactical Approaches
Tactical approaches perceive diversity recruiting as a business case issue. On the other hand, strategic approach perceives diversity recruiting as a true science. Tactical approaches to recruiting mainly involve a series of unconnected activities in the recruitment process making it prone to failure. Strategic approach employs a series of related activities in a process that commences with building relationships with all stakeholders and also incorporates robust strategies for retention. As such, strategic approach borrows from Bloom’s taxonomy where relationships are important aspects of the strategy.
Strategic Approach to Diversity Recruiting
In this recruiting approach, all activities are linked together such that the synched-energy accelerates success. As opposed to tactical approaches, this approach saves the organization from investing energy, time and resources into recruitment activities that do not return favorable results. This process involves related steps namely, “Culture shift, outreach, recruiting, retention and management infrastructure.” (Busch-Vishniac, & Jarosz, 2004)
SDR can only be successfully implemented in organizations that are ready to embrace diversity. Thus, the first step is to cultivate a culture where employees not only understand but value diversity a business issue and tool. One way to achieve this is, by assigning a person or persons to be in charge of finding ways of incorporating the cultural diversity within the organization; other employees should also be included in these events. This will help people to appreciate different cultures and enhance unity and team work for the greater good of the company.
The goal of the outreach component is to consistently construct and project a positive image of the organization to potential employees and other stakeholders who have a strong influence on these candidates. As such, there is also need to highlight the company’s diversity though magazines, journals, websites and other corporate publications. Linking up with other diverse organizations through these forums will help in showcasing diversity in organizations. Moreover, advertising job vacancies in forums where people from diverse regions, cultures, and backgrounds can see the vacancy positions and apply e.g. through the internet, will extend or rather reach a wider audience and people from all walks of life will apply. Tactical approaches mainly promote current organizational diversity efforts because they do not take time to build lasting relationships. On the other hand, the outreach effort not only promotes current organizational diversity efforts but also promotes future recruiting success by establishing lasting, personal relationships with key stakeholders.
Recruiting component aims to identify and attract a diverse talented workforce and protect the integrity of the potential candidates by ensuring that they get a fair treatment throughout the hiring process. For both strategic and tactical approaches, discrimination is one of the greatest pitfalls for organizations at this stage. Discrimination can occur within the lines of gender, race and social background. This negatively affects employees and hinders them from performing to their level best as the firm expects them to. Developing company policy against discrimination and providing ways of reporting discrimination cases can ensure a transparent recruiting process. The policy against discrimination can be upheld by having punishments for those who break this law; for example, demotion and sacking. Effective reporting channels should be enabled, such as through suggestion boxes.
Tactical approaches tend to invest more on the recruiting process and pay less attention to retention of the existing work force. Strategic approach stresses on retention of the existing workforce to minimize the recruitment cost and maintain employee productivity. To facilitate retention of the workforce, management should make a point to learn about the employee’s cultural backgrounds, lives and interests outside the workplace. This will enable them to build relationships and trust. It also helps in knowing what can and what cannot be considered offensive to a particular culture. Moreover, the management should focus on orientation, motivation and team building. For instance, they can come up with office events that take place outside the work setting for employees to socialize and understand each other better for example team building activities like hiking. Be aware of culturally significant events or holy days to provide time off for the group that needs to be off work. For example, those who attend seventh day Adventist church should not go to work on Saturday as it is their holy day.
For the SDR approach to be successful there, is need to have a sound management with infrastructure to implement the above steps. Though organizations using tactical approaches may have a sound management, lack of proper structure may hinder proper implementation of diversity. When creating a diverse work setting, the management should make sure that the environment is conducive. Supervisors and managers should undergo management and diversity training. This creates an environment of support and understanding which impacts the potential of employees positively. A supportive work environment fosters team spirit and a sense of belonging among employees who mutually respect each other despite their many cultural differences. Creating quality of work life guidelines that improve the interests of a diverse workforce for example, substitute work patterns, reasonable housing and employee help programs.
The Associated Challenges in Implementing Steps to Promote a Diverse Workforce
When creating an environment that has a diverse work force, one is bound to face some challenges as every employee wants to feel comfortable in order to perform as expected and achieve the overall company goal. This section analyses the associated challenges in implementing steps to promote a diverse workforce. It will involve breaking information into parts examining its identifying causes or motives or; making deductions and gathering evidence to support the conclusions.
Resistance to Change by the Existing Workforce
Major decisions that directly affect employees are most of the time met with a lot of resistance and criticism. This causes internal conflicts among the employees and the management. An existing homogenous workforce will resist working with people who come from different backgrounds, religion, other countries or regions for the fear of not understanding each other and they also fear a certain group will get special treatment. This can be avoided by involving employees in making major decisions and asking for their views so as to come to an agreeable position. Policies should also be put in place to avoid favors or discrimination based on the differences. Some measures should also be put in place so as to put all the employees on an equal platform for example disabled people should have special washrooms, rumps or elevators in place of stair cases so they can feel as comfortable as everyone else(Hansen, 2003).
Racial discrimination is one of the most contentious issues while dealing with a diverse workforce (De ciere, 2005). To date, the misinformed concept of inferior and superior races still does exist and is one of the greatest impediments to the achievement of diversity in the workplace. Discrimination may lead to reduced employee productivity, negative and interpersonal conflicts and decreased employee turnover. These negative influences lead to great financial losses to the organization. This can be reduced by coming up with strict policies that prevents discrimination and penalties for those who break such policies such as demotion and sacking.
Communication barrier can as well be a deep rooted problem when working with a diverse workforce. This can either be due to differences in spoken language or due to inability to hear and speak, hence the use of gestures. In the case of language barrier, the company should offer classes for the official language that should be used in the company. For example if the firm is in an English speaking country and there are some people from other countries whose national language is not English then they should take English classes so as to break the language barrier. In the case of the deaf employees then they should have supervisors who can use gestures or even an aid to translate. Communication barriers lead to confusion, lack of teamwork and low self-esteem.
Harassment can either be sexual harassment or bullying or any other kind of physical or emotional harassment. Harassment makes the workplace uncomfortable and this in turn affects the performance of employees. Policies should also be put in place to guard against such cases. There should also be channels to report such cases and should be treated with a lot of seriousness. It’s not only women who suffer sexual harassment but men too. This can be a very embarrassing situation so anonymity should be considered when dealing with such situations.
Lack of motivation
Employees will always be resistant to change when they have the “we have always done this” mentality. To eliminate this mentality, teams that have employees from different cultures should be formed and then given tasks to complete. The team that performs the best should be given an award e.g. promotion, bonuses and salary increments (Amba-Rao, 2000).
Personal bias entails stereotypes perpetuated against a certain group by their fellow employees. These misconceptions have a great negative impact to the work place. Employees may refuse to work with each other because of what they believe to be true about others. This can be dealt with by holding office events on non-work setting or holding social events for employees to get to know each other and foster understanding.
These are conflicts in the work environment caused by different personalities or characteristics of the employees. This leads to low self -esteem, low morale and less productivity. Social groupings tend to avoid or belittle other employees in the workplace which may lead to decreased self-esteem for some and feeling of self-worthlessness which also affect performance. These instances include, talking behind someone’s back, judgments based on life choices, dressing code, lower qualification and avoidance. Although this is essentially not against company’s regulations it is bound to give rise to conflicts hindering effective communication, sharing skills and thus overall productivity is jeopardized by issues that could easily be avoided. Team work and understanding can solve this challenge although it may take a longer time because people do not embrace something they are not used to easily (Holland, 2007).
Diversifying the work environment is expensive since the management has to come up with forums or seminars where employees and their supervisors are trained on diversity. This is very important because it helps create understanding and reduce conflicts. Moreover, if the management does not fully support diversity, then there will be endless conflicts that can lead to downfall of a firm. Moreover, there is need to implement diversity in workplace policies where a customized strategy needs to be developed to maximize the effects of diversity (Wentling, 1998).
Other Challenges that may plague implementing steps to promote a diverse workforce may be social groupings among diverse employees may cause lack of cooperation, malice and unhealthy competition. These cliques may be difficult to control, even for management; which may lead to dismal work performance for the group’s members. Separation of these cliques’ members into different departments may further cause rebellion and tension between employees and managers (Cooke, 2010). Settling into the new departments with new coworkers may also be difficult for some employees who may even promote poor attitude towards work and consequently poorer results in terms of their work performance.
Synthesizing Findings into Recommendations for Organizational Leaders
Based on the above findings, some practices have turned diversity into a blessing in disguise rather than being a distraction to a working environment (Tan, 2002). Organizations should practice diversity an integral part of their management system. It is recommended that the organization should implement the following practices to achieve productive diversity in the organization;
An employee satisfaction survey team should be selected to assess which policies can be added and/or eliminated and challenges and obstacles the organization faces in its bid to achieve diversity at the work place (Chourides, 2003). This survey team should come up with a plan which is comprehensive, attainable and measurable. When a company’s management is presented with this plan, it must decide which changes need to be made and the time line for the changes.
Assessment of the diversity set up in a work place
As part of management strategy knowing and understanding the different employees and the challenges that may affect work performance due to these differences. By doing so, the management team is able to come up with policies that tackle these problems and hence employees are comfortable at their work environment which consequently increases performance. Employee satisfaction not only increases performance but also reflects on the company’s efficacy, convenience and sustained growth.
Diversity development by an independent surveyor
A comprehensive report on the different diversities in the office in terms of beliefs, religion, culture among others such as political views and modernization of the employees under different departments should be compiled and handed to the management team. This report serves as a guide to make appropriate changes or emphasize on the pros. The guiding plan should be detailed, accurate, non-biased, attainable, measurable and sustainable.
Implementation of diversity in the workplace
This is a delicate task that can be achieved through proper guidance by the managerial staff to appropriately influence the mindset of junior employees towards embracing diversity. Moreover, the new staff should be oriented to embrace diversity, which will ensure that diversity grows as the organization progresses (Asheim, 2009).
Involvement of all employees both juniors and seniors in decision making
Every employee regardless of position and qualification should be allowed to contribute to decisions involving the firm. This will help in enhancing equality and self-appreciation. Moreover, should be fair treatment of employees in the work environment so as to shield off resistance to any new proposed plan. It is easier for the workplace to welcome the idea wholeheartedly and even eager to implement it themselves. Encouraging openness between employees and fostering freedom to express their concerns and ideas concerning the company further enhances easier implementation of the diversity plan.
Sensitization and Training
Training of the employees on the various diverse natures in the workplace and sensitizing them of need to appreciate and respect each other’s opinions, social upbringing, age, national origin, primary language and religion will go a long way in promoting diversity (Asheim, 2007, 140). Coworkers with different diversities bring unique experiences and perceptions to the idea table and with their various skills can benefit the organization for changing conditions that have an effect on a team’s productivity and responsiveness.
When managed properly, diversity can leverage a team’s strengths and complement individual weaknesses making the teamwork effort greater than individual results. Being in an environment with people of different beliefs and backgrounds can help improve personal growth among workers. These different perspectives provide a path for individual dialogues to gain insight of their surroundings and place in the organization. The time spent with these coworkers can rid the organization of stereotyping and xenophobia that creates rounded teams and individuals. Moreover, recruits into the company will encounter new diversities and some may experience culture shock and find it hard to cope with the new environment. Finding ways to attract and maintain a diverse workforce and ensuring their continued stay in the organization requires a couple of measures (Sullivan, 2008). These measures include;
Talking to the community around where the firm is located to recommend recruits which will ensure they bring in people already used or adjusted to diverse work environments, thus settling in will be an easy transition. They can as well contact local and national nongovernmental organizations that deal with less popular cultural groups to recommend qualified members from these groups to the firm.
Management could also ask current employees for referrals since they are probably from same cultural background, religious or education background whose entry into the firm will be made easier by those they already know. This will protect them from bias and despise from older members of that company (Darwin, 2000). They should also involve staff from minority groups who could recommend people from these groups as well.
Establishing the company’s policy that emphasize the organizations stance to give the impression of a diverse company will consequently lead to applications from applicants from diverse, backgrounds which will strengthen the workforce by providing experience and background knowledge from different perspectives. Such a policy should include antidiscrimination policy and equal employment and promotion opportunities (Chavez, 2008).
The company’s website should be well updated on the current diverse practices involving different cultures; this will ensure the applicants safety concerns over application to the organization. There should be minimum requirements and qualifications that should be upheld for all applicants regardless of the background. Publications read across various geographical regions and cultures advertising these job positions will attract more diverse applicants rather than from a single cultural setting. This is also a way of encouraging a great pool of applicants as they view the company as a discrimination free work zone.
Diversity to work, must be incorporated at every level in the company from management to supervisors and finally to the employees (Busch-Vishniac, 2004). When management embraces the idea of diversity, it is easy for the employees to do the same. Recruiting from a diverse workforce opens the organization to diverse highly qualified personnel to fill in the positions that needed. For companies looking to expand and improve existing operations, a diversified workforce is the best approach to use. As workforces become more diverse management should look into communication, recruiting and training. In a diverse workforce, communication is very important because it helps reduce numerous conflicts.
As a way of encouraging people with physical disability, special infrastructures should be put in place to make their working environment friendlier. This can be achieved by having special parking spots, disability washrooms and computer equipment that is simplified. Diversity based on physical status entails hiring or recruiting individuals with various forms of physical abilities and disabilities as well. The government is currently promoting this kind of diversity by providing funding to the companies to employ the disabled (Moore, 1999). As a way of encouraging people with physical disability, special infrastructures are put in place to make their working environment friendlier. This can be by having special parking spots, disability washrooms and computer equipment that is simplified (Tynjala, 2008).
Diversity is an expensive affair and a lot of changes have to be made to accommodate it but with time, understanding and respecting what makes us different, diversity can successfully be implemented (Fink, 1999). Management should be fully aware of what diversity entails and how to handle it and if this happens then the employees will try to get along with each other and fully embrace the idea of diversity. Diversity increases the competitiveness and success of an organization. Thus with sustainable diversity the organization is going to reap increased adaptability where the organization is able to respond fast to changes in the market and to seize new opportunities because of the many ideas and solutions that come from the diverse workforce (Richard, 2007). By doing this, it places the company at the top of the most competitive in the world or nation, hence only attracting many customers and even investors. Moreover, diversity provides a great pool of talents and ideas hence a company can be able to deal with customers from all over the world efficiently. The organization draws from the great pool of ideas and experiences to meet business strategy needs and the needs of customers more efficiently. Companies or organizations that encourage diversity also encourage employees to perform better hence great profits. Moreover, there is increased morale due to competition.
Competition is healthy to a company but only to a limited point in order to avoid harboring hard feelings against each other that may cause a loss in the long-term due to internal conflicts. Healthy competition keeps all employees on their toes and especially if there is an award for the best performer. Finally, workforce diversity fosters creativity where different ideas can be improved to workable solutions to problems in the company hence increasing efficiency and effectiveness.
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