Thursday, May 21, 2009

Involving Employees in Diversity Initiatives

Employers are slowly coming to seeing the advantages of creating a diverse workforce and fostering an organizational culture which accepts and supports individuals from diverse backgrounds. Diversity makes good business sense for a lot of reasons including reducing turnover/absenteeism, fostering creativity/innovation, and improving marketplace understanding (Robinson and Dechant (1997) as cited in HRM Business Case for Diversity Management - It can also foster employee engagement by creating a safe and accepting workplace.

But what about actually involving employees in creating and organizing workplace diversity initiatives? What about creating “diversity champions” or “diversity committees” to spear head such initiatives? These are individuals or groups of individuals who are the “go to” people for anything related to diversity. They can be just regular employees, not experts, who have a passion for diversity and know where to look or who to consult with to get the answers you need.

Begin a “diversity champion” or on a “diversity committee” offers employees a chance to get involved by shaping organizational culture and improving diversity within the organization. It also provides the opportunity for employees to get involved in something they really care about. Perhaps they’ve been itching to help orientate newcomers into the working environment but never had the opportunity or perhaps they are a newcomer themselves and empathize with the challenges newcomers can face drawing on their own personal experiences. Whatever the case may be, getting involved in diversity initiatives is a great employee engagement strategy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Developing Essential Skills to Lead to Employee Engagement?

Do your employees have all the essential skills needed for their job? If not, there is a possibility that a lack of required essential skills could lead to a disengaged employee. Think about it; let’s say you are the manager of payroll services at a busy hospital; you have just hired Samantha on as she comes with great references for having excellent interpersonal skills. At the same time Samantha is hired, the department has just upgraded to a fancy new computer system. You make the assumption that as Samantha is pretty young she will easily transition to her position and easily learn the new computer system. After about a month you begin to notice that Samantha is already beginning to show signs of a disengaged worker: she has already phoned in sick, her morale is low, and there is room for improvement with her productivity. Samantha’s current behaviour is not reflecting the eager, enthusiastic employee you hired a month ago. There could be numerous factors which lead to an employee’s disengagement however one factor to think about is whether or not your employees have the necessary skills to do their job (i.e., would Samantha have been more engaged had she had more training on how to use the new computer system? Was the lack of knowledge and skill leading Samantha to be frustrated at work?)

The Government of Canada has identified nine essential skills that will benefit employees and help employees transition to change in their working environment. For a detailed description of the essential skills visit:

As an employer looking to increase employee engagement in the workplace a strong suggestion would be to assess the skills of your employees. If you feel that your employees could benefit from essential skills training – try to build in activities once a week that concentrate on enhancing the essential skills most needed by your staff.