In today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget that employees are people. They have lives outside of the office. However, encouraging employees to pursue their passions and interests outside of work can have a positive impact on job satisfaction. This can be the first step toward enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). 

DEIB is still a trend for a reason. DEIB initiatives boost employee satisfaction and retention. But it’s also important to ensure that workplaces are inclusive for all for ethical reasons. However, these initiatives should go beyond diverse and inclusive hiring practices if business leaders truly want to create more positive and inclusive work environments. 

Coworkers working together (Enhancing diversity blog)

Photo by Antoni Shkraba

Research has shown that creating a sense of belonging. This is done by giving employees the freedom to explore their diverse identities and personal interests at work. And it can enhance DEIB, foster a more positive sense of community, and result in greater productivity and innovation in the workplace. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at how personal passions and DEIB are connected. We’ll also offer strategies on how you can better support employee interests to create a more inclusive work environment and enhance diversity.

Enhancing Diversity: What Does Diversity Look Like In Today’s Modern Workplace? 

The importance of DEIB initiatives cannot be understated. Nowadays, the demographics of the workplace have changed significantly from what they were a few decades ago. Some of the characteristics of today’s workforce include:

  • As of 2020, individuals under the age of 18 in the U.S. who were “multiracial and racial and ethnic minorities exceeded those of whites”.  The entirety of the US population will make this shift by 2044. 
  • Individuals who identify as Latinx will make up 20% of the workforce by 2028. 
  • More people than ever before are identifying as LGBTQ+, with estimates indicating that these individuals make up 4.5% percent of the population. 
  • In corporate settings, women now make up a larger percentage of upper management than they have in the past. But women of color are still underrepresented. 
  • Older Americans are also staying in the workforce longer. Today, 19% of Americans in this age group are currently employed, as compared to half that amount 35 years ago. 

The workforce has undergone several changes within just the past few years. Thus, making the effort to be inclusive in your company and enhance diversity necessary. This is helpful both to retain employees and make the most of the individuals that you hire. So, this process begins when you are searching for new talent. For instance, you can make use of a Text Analyzer to make your job postings more inclusive. It can also help attract a more diverse hiring pool. At Ongig, we have found that many of our clients have integrated this tool into their HR practices because of their passion for diversity. 

But once you have hired a diverse group of candidates, how can you ensure that they stay satisfied in the workplace? 

Enhancing Diversity: How are DEIB Initiatives and Employee Passions Linked?

When seeking to enhance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, consider how DEIB is connected to concepts like employee engagement and personal passions. 

For an employee to feel they are genuinely important to the team, they must feel seen and valued for their unique identity and interests. This means appreciating them not just for their work-related skills. But you must appreciate who they are as a whole person. 

To do this allow employees to bring their external identities, passions, and interests into the workplace. Doing so shows employees that you care about who they are beyond the job they perform at work. It also helps them feel more appreciated for their unique identity.

Supporting employees in this way also helps them develop a more emotional connection to their role in the organization. In turn, this can increase their job satisfaction. This means they are more likely to be productive and innovative at work. This is because they will be happy to commit to helping the company achieve its goals. 

Strategies for Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion Through Support for Employee Interests and Passions

As an employer, there are many things you can do to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Often, one of the primary strategies is by using DEIB surveys. However, in keeping with the tone of this article, another key strategy is to put more effort into getting to know your employees. So, this means valuing them for their unique identities. It also means allowing them to bring their interests and passions into the workplace. 

1. Get to Know Your Employees

Your employees have lives outside of work and are more than just a cog in the machine of your organization. So, show them you understand that. Chat with them and pay attention to what is happening in their personal life outside of work. Showing you genuinely care about your staff goes a long way toward making them feel like an important part of the team. 

2. Ask About What Matters to Them

Don’t just listen to your employees talk about themselves. Make an active effort by asking them questions about their interests and what matters to them. So, this shows that you are doing more than the bare minimum and aren’t just feigning interest. This will also help them feel more comfortable expressing themselves and owning their unique identity. So, instead of feeling like they have to hide who they are at work, this is a step toward enhancing diversity at work. 

3. Value Their Ideas and Opinions

Show your employees that you genuinely want to hear what they have to say by inviting their honest feedback. In meetings, for example, encourage your employees to speak up. And don’t forget to thank them for contributing their unique ideas and perspectives. All of these can contribute to enhancing diversity in the workplace. 

4. Encourage Them to Pursue Their Hobbies

In addition, to show your employees that it’s okay for them to bring their passions and interests into the workplace. You should also encourage them to further pursue those interests and hobbies outside of work. This lets your employees see once again that they are not only valued for what they bring to the job. It also shows that you care about them being able to do what makes them happy in their personal time as well.

You should also give your employees resources to pursue their passions and cultivate a culture of continuous learning at work. In addition to improving employee retention and filling skill gaps, it also helps with improving productivity and enhancing diversity at work. Keep in mind too that your learning culture doesn’t just have to be about providing employees with skills to expand their resume or help them get a specific promotion. Try adding cultural or wellness events, or providing employees with resources such as stipends for gym memberships or creative classes. This can also go a long way to helping you create a vibrant and effective workforce. 

5. Foster a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Of course, a key part of encouraging employees to pursue their diverse hobbies and interests is ensuring you are creating a work environment that fosters a healthy work-life balance. If you are demanding too much of your employees, they might burn out. For example, they might not have the time or energy to do much outside of work. 

So make sure you allow for a more flexible work schedule that enables them to pursue their interests. You can also foster a better balance between passions and work life by encouraging employees to schedule time for their hobbies and set boundaries when they need to. They must also be able to set realistic goals so they are not burning themselves out. 

In addition, helping with DEIB efforts and creating a more positive and productive work environment is not all. You must also foster a healthier work-life balance to better support employee mental health. So, boosting mental health is just as important as enhancing diversity and inclusion. 

Why I Wrote This:

As an employer or business leader, it is often challenging to know how to remain professional while showing you care about your employees’ interests. Understandably, you don’t want to cross a line and still need your employees to focus on their work. 

Encouraging personal passions to enhance diversity and inclusivity doesn’t mean turning the workplace into one big social party. It just means doing more to show that you care about them.

The key takeaway here is ensuring your employees feel seen and appreciated as whole individuals with unique interests and identities beyond their job titles. Start small, by simply chatting with your employees more and inviting them to share their ideas and interests. 

The goal isn’t to drop all sense of professionalism and productivity in the workplace but to create a work environment where there is a more harmonious balance between work and personal passions. 

This is a guest post from Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.

Ainsley Lawrence

by in Diversity and Inclusion