Creating an inclusive culture for hybrid and remote workers

Taking effective action on your employee journey is no longer a 'nice to have', your employees are on a journey of adjusting to the remote & hybrid way.

The BTN was recently delighted to partner again with Eightfold for a VIP roundtable that brought together senior people leaders from some of the leading organisations across the world. 

Adjusting to new environments has brought an abundance of benefits but hybrid/remote environments also run the risk of creating an array of new inequalities and intensifying those that already exist. The role of inclusion plays a critical role when designing work plans and policies as we look to create an equitable organisation. How can we design inclusive team meetings that work best for everyone and allow everyone to have a voice? How do we ensure communication and conversations actively involve all staff and eliminate the bias of presenteeism? How can we create visibility for everything that we do in a digital-first way to allow everyone to grow?

The conversation was led by the incredible Nick Timpson (Strategic Account Director at Eightfold), which was an open and interactive conversation bringing about the following takeaways: 

Taking a blanket approach does not recognise the diversity in a workforce

Nick opened the conversation with a question on how you can get your employees to be invested in the growth and culture. For many organisations, developing a clear strategy and communication is an essential part of ensuring employees are invested in the growth of a company. This could be ensuring there is always something booked in the calendar to focus on, such as international women's day, neurodiversity events, equality matters, etc so that people can get involved. Some organisations think they are employee-centric but are they really? Organisations need to be bold enough to get employees to join, solve problems, and get involved.  

For many leaders, having regular dialogue with their employees is a key part of the investment. If employees are engaged and can communicate what they feel, the barriers are broken down in organisations, allowing collaboration with their leaders to develop and solve these problems, therefore driving these solutions forward and resulting in an outcome a lot quicker.

The question was raised around whether leaders carry out surveys as a way to get a better feel of the business to see what people are lacking or what some of the challenges are that they face. Many of the leaders stated that they have an annual employee survey where they look at it from a DEI point of view which was found to be extremely useful in showing specific areas they need to improve on as leaders. What also helps is leaders being clearer in stating what they are not doing so well in and ensuring they dig deeper to find the root cause. If organisations do not listen, there will be a storm that will affect minority groups, and therefore go against any development goals organisations have.

According to one leader, “taking a blanket approach does not recognize the diversity in a workforce”, some organisations can be led by the market. Therefore, finding the right answer and being flexible about your flexibility is where organisations need to go. Moreover, the pressure on salaries has become so severe that headhunters will target people because of the flexibility question. This is a door opener, NOT a door sealer. Giving employees more choice about the extent to which they need to be in the office and giving people more certainty around expectations and how things will work in the future will largely help. 


Inclusivity is key in supporting managers with staff development and a DEI mindset

Promoting and improving diversity & inclusion in the workplace is a crucial initiative that many companies are now taking. Ensuring this is done is vital in supporting managers with employee development and a DEI mindset. If organisations do not have an inclusive environment, then there are the risks of employee retention being affected due to a lack of feeling of belonging. Workshops are an easy way that leaders can talk about what is working well and what is not. This gives them the ability to share their views more comfortably so that they feel included and heard.

In terms of management, the focus is very much on line managers in making that inclusive workforce and moving in the right direction. Line managers need to engage in uncomfortable situations without blaming anyone, but being able to identify how they act is key in how others react. Some leaders use vertical development as a way to support and develop managers in creating an inclusive workforce. A vertical development relates to how leaders interact with different levels of authority - it’s about challenging thinking. Managers need to ensure they have the moment of need to stretch their thinking and build all the fundamental needs in their program. Leaders need to build it together from a user experience to improve on that development and DEI mindset. 

Creating an inclusive culture for hybrid and remote workers is vital in staff development and a DEI mindset. Organisations need to ensure they are not simply taking the ‘blanket’ approach as a way to recognize diversity. Supporting remote workers has, in some ways, isolated office workers, for example, tax benefits. Being mindful of the impact on individual groups is useful to help communicate and find that balance. Inflexibility around hybrid or remote working is playing into the hands of recruiters who target employees of inflexible firms - so beware. Therefore, finding the right answer and being flexible about your flexibility is where organisations need to go in order to be successful.


The importance of transparency in self-development for career progression

As talent demand increases, the pressure for many organisations also increases, which creates this underutilisation. Being able to engage with an ATS and HRMS and being able to map those together and give employees transparency on their role is vital in identifying their opportunities and where it can take them. Organisations need to break those silos down and have that cultural change. Some leaders have noticed that giving employees the choice in whether they would like to work from home or in the office will help break down those silos.

Some leaders have found that looking at progressive model thinkers helps in generating equal opportunities for career progression. Thinking progressively has helped engage people from across the organisation and has many people thinking about their careers. However, some organisations may struggle in making a more attractive workplace. For example, factories struggle to increase their female rate and create an attractive workplace to reach them. Engagement tools can also be a huge factor in helping the frontline. The middle management piece and working with middle managers to tap into the talent and DEI agenda are important in the long term.  

In terms of self-development, leaders need to work with their people managers so they can view talent in different aspects, but equally so they can take risks and understand that it starts from the roots. It is all about understanding the area pathways and thinking about how organisations can fairly replicate this so for those that are hungry for success know how they can progress. The more data individuals can give, the more outcomes they will receive. Some companies offer people mentoring programs as a way to learn more, particularly for those that want to stretch themselves. Giving people access to learn skills and having that access provides that visibility for individuals and therefore the business must be behind this. 



About Eightfold

Eightfold’s deep-learning talent intelligence platform is powered by the largest global talent data set to unleash the full potential of the total workforce – employees, candidates, contractors, and citizens. Grounded in Equal Opportunity Algorithms, the Eightfold® Talent Intelligence Platform uses deep-learning AI to help: attract the best talent for the job, understand how your workforce stacks up against the competition, identify and develop skills to unlock workforce potential, deliver bias-free talent recruitment, and much more.