The onboarding process is a pivotal opportunity to set the tone for an inclusive and diverse workplace.
Research by Brandon Hall Group found that organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.
In this blog, we’ll explore actionable strategies that companies can adopt to ensure every new hire feels not only welcomed but integrated into the organisational culture.
What is Inclusivity?
Inclusivity is more than just an organisational goal; it is a commitment to recognising and appreciating the unique qualities each colleague brings to the table. By tailoring the onboarding experience to embrace these differences, companies can foster a culture that not only respects diversity but actively seeks to leverage it for innovation and success. When colleagues feel included and like they belong at an organisation, it sets the tone for them to do their best work.
The Onboarding Experience Keep it Clear:
Avoid unnecessary confusion by considering what information new hires will need to adjust to the new environment. Consider providing resources like a map of the office for larger workplaces. Be explicit on what are the expectations and areas for flexibility. For example, how flexible are breaks and lunch time (Side note: if you provide lunch, ensure it considers diverse diets and restrictions). To support neurodivergent new hires, it can be helpful to provide information on unwritten rules or social rules.
Inclusive Welcome Materials:
Showcase your company's commitment to inclusivity in your onboarding materials. Feature diverse employee stories, highlight Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)/affinity groups if your company has them, and emphasise the value placed on unique backgrounds and experiences.
Mentorship or Buddy Programs:
Establish mentorship programs that pair new hires with tenured colleagues. This not only provides a built-in support system but also offers a personalised introduction to the company's culture.
Ensure all onboarding materials, both digital and physical, are accessible to individuals with varying needs. This includes providing alternative formats, accommodating assistive technologies, and creating physically accessible spaces. Ensure that colleagues know how to request accommodations they may need.
Inclusive Language Guidelines:
Implement guidelines for inclusive language in all communication materials. Encourage the use of gender-neutral and culturally sensitive language to create an environment that is welcoming to all. The Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications have a very thorough guide to inclusive language
Integrate concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion into all trainings a new hire takes. Utilise case studies, discussions, and workshops to help new hires understand the value of diverse perspectives and how it contributes to the company's overall success.
Building Internal Connections Inclusive Social Events:
Organise social events that cater to various interests and are diverse in nature. For example, after-work social events may not suit parents or carers and some colleagues may not drink alcohol. This ensures that every new hire can find a space where they feel comfortable and included.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) / Affinity Groups:
Encourage the formation of ERGs within the company, enabling colleagues to connect with others who share similar backgrounds or interests. These groups provide a sense of community and support as colleagues navigate their new role and company. Read more about ERGs in Chezie’s brilliant ERG toolkit
Feedback and Continuous Improvement
Actively seek feedback from new hires about their onboarding experience. Use this information to make continuous improvements, demonstrating to colleagues that their voices are valued and their perspectives matter.
Inclusive onboarding isn't just a checklist and may look different at every company but is a crucial part of the colleague experience. It sets the stage for collaboration, innovation, and employee engagement. It ensures that every individual, regardless of background, feels valued from day one, contributing to a thriving and dynamic culture.
Posted by Máire