How to make sure all your employees feel like they belong

By: Shana Lebowitz Gaynor – Correspondent at Business Insider

Last week I hosted an Insider webinar on building an inclusive hybrid workplace. Execs from Mastercard, Lenovo, and Buffer participated, along with workplace strategist Erica Keswin.

I posed the same pressing question to all four panellists: How can we ensure that employees who are in the office and employees who are working remotely feel like they belong?

Here are a few insights that stood out.

Be explicit about the best ways to lead in a hybrid workplace

The word “intentional” kept coming up. In other words, don’t assume that any of your employees know how to do this! Instead show them.

Calvin Crosslin, who leads diversity and inclusion at Lenovo, said the company has been offering online courses for leaders on managing a hybrid team effectively. And Keswin tells the organizations she works with that their company values should shape their hybrid work strategy. “Your company values can provide that litmus test,” Keswin said, when you’re deciding whether to implement a particular policy or practice.

Create the infrastructure for building culture

Another important discussion topic: how to create a meaningful work experience for new hires who are starting remotely.

Carolyn Kopprasch, head of special projects at Buffer (which has always been fully distributed), said every new Buffer employee gets a “culture buddy.” Your culture buddy is there to answer seemingly silly questions, Kopprasch said, like whether you need to ask someone’s permission before scheduling a meeting on their calendar. Having a designated source for these kinds of questions can help people feel welcome in their new work environment.

Model transparency

A few of the panellists mentioned that, early on in the pandemic, managers made a point of asking employees how they were doing, personally. And that shouldn’t necessarily stop, now that we’re just about a year in.

Michael Fraccaro, Mastercard’s chief people officer, said the most powerful way for leaders to encourage employees to be candid is to be open and honest about their own struggles. “Leadership teams are beginning to see the value,” Fraccaro said, referring to wellbeing in the workplace. “This isn’t something soft and fluffy. Actually, it’s one of the hardest things that they’re going to have to deal with in the future.”

How is your company thinking about inclusion in the hybrid workplace?

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