Categories: Health Care, HR & Employment Law, Retirement | by Nicole Lopes

The workplace has changed immensely over the last few years. Not only has there been a change in how we work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has also been a much greater focus on diversity and inclusion. Although there is still work to be done, many organizations are making strides in advocating for unheard or underrepresented groups in the corporate world. As a part of your organization’s human resources department, it is essential to be one step ahead in advocating for all of your company’s employees — from any level or background. To encourage a people-first mentality in your organization, you must have collaboration, culture, and advocacy in HR.


Collaboration: Bringing More Voices to the HR Conversation

Human resources can be a difficult department to manage, as you must balance business processes and procedures with employee wants and needs. Integrating collaboration into your everyday approach can ensure voices are heard and team members are satisfied. Essentially, this entails more communication between HR and other departments to identify the root cause of issues, and to brainstorm solutions. For example, if the HR team collaborates with the IT department, roadblocks that employees face can more easily be called out and addressed. The HR team can assist IT in prioritizing fixes for issues, and help to recognize when training can address employee knowledge gaps.

Another way to bring more voices to the conversation is through implementing workplace democracy. Workplace democracy is when democratic practices are put into action in the office, including voting, debate, and a participatory decision-making system. Getting team members involved makes workplace management more transparent to the employees, making them feel included. According to a Gallup poll, 53% of workers are not engaged with their job. Implementing democratic practices increases engagement, therefore decreasing turnover rates and increasing employee satisfaction. Some of the ways you can implement workplace democracy are through avoiding hierarchies, giving and receiving feedback from employees, offering flexibility, and being transparent and communicative about company decisions.


Culture: Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace Environment

Inclusivity is a hot topic these days, and for good reason — racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better. Many organizations are working towards diversity and hiring a variety of people from all backgrounds. As the workforce diversifies, it is the Human Resources department’s role to ensure that all employees are represented and supported no matter their race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, nationality, or religion. According to Forbes, an inclusive organization is two times as likely to exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be agile and innovative, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. Inclusivity must start at the core, and be implemented into your company culture. This starts with a zero tolerance policy for hate crimes, harassment, or racially motivated language, but in reality you should be doing much more than that. Your HR department should go above and beyond to promote inclusivity and unity into the company culture.

An inclusive company culture is important because it encourages employee loyalty, helps team members generate more ideas, attracts top candidates to fill open positions, and reduces employee turnover rates. Some ways you can contribute to an inclusive culture are: attending diversity and inclusion training, listening and accepting feedback from team members, and recognizing each team member and their strengths. Not only is it vital to listen to your employees and hear their feedback, but taking action will show them that you truly are dedicated to having an environment where every employee feels welcome.


Advocacy: Providing Benefits for All

As a Human Resource professional, a large part of your role is advocating for your organization’s employees. Advocating for your team members means to know your people well enough to make sure they are represented accurately and fairly within the company. A key aspect of advocacy starts with employee benefits. Many organizations’ benefits are outdated in terms of fairness to sexual orientation and gender identity. To start off, many companies do not have adequate maternity leave for pregnant individuals after giving birth. However, it is often even more difficult for other new parents, like same-sex couples, to get the proper time off to bond with their new child. As an HR representative, you must consider the perspective from all of your employees and create policies to make sure they are receiving equal benefits.

Along with maternity/paternity leave, another way to advocate for all employees is by choosing an inclusive healthcare plan. For example, many health insurance plans are discriminatory of transgender individuals and their dependents in their policies. As the HR representative, it is your duty to research and determine these benefits to ensure equality amongst all the company’s employees.

Collaboration, culture, and advocacy in HR are essential to providing a safe and inclusive place of work for all. Regulating your policies and practices is so important to make sure all employees are treated equally and receive appropriate benefits regardless of their race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, (dis)ability, religion or background.