Diversity and Inclusion initiatives sometimes do not include some groups of employees that get marginalized. Understanding who some of them are and how to include them in health, wellbeing, and engagement initiatives can positively impact your work culture.
Clearly this is a diversity challenge that is not visible, but one we should be more aware of in our workplaces. Harvard School of Medicine describes neurodiversity as “the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.”
Approximately 15-20 percent of people are neurodivergent. Recently there was a lot of talk about the way that Elon Musk communicated with his team in the news. There were several articles about him potentially being on the spectrum and not fully realizing the impact he had made because of his communication style. An abrupt style can be off putting. Not having awareness of neurodiversity can impact both the person trying to get an important point across and to those listening.
Consider having a few lunch and learns/educational sessions on this topic. Many people that are neurodiverse bring unique skills and talents. By building understanding around this issue, the company can retain key talent and help build bridges between team members that may be having issues understanding each other.
How your workspaces are designed can also make a difference in being inclusive of those employees that are neurodiverse. HOK put out this research to help leaders understand this through a workspace design prospective: https://www.hok.com/ideas/publications/hok-designing-a-neurodiverse-workplace/
Ageism and the Intergenerational Workforce
Nearly 80% of older employees say they’ve seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, according to the most recent survey by AARP.
When we talk about employee wellness and wellbeing, often there is a lot of focus on getting exercise, eating to thrive, sleep, and connection to purpose. These all apply to older workers in your organization, but often need to be positioned differently. How you communicate, the images you use, and what you have included in your overall employee health and wellbeing offerings should consider an intergenerational workforce.
Some of the issues to be addressed are biases against older employees. Many older employees become care partners to older adults in their lives. This has a big impact on overall health and wellbeing. Healthier conversations about wellbeing at all stages of life can create a more inclusive working environment and get more employees engaged in their teams and with your wellness program.
Employees with Pets
For those employees that don’t have pets, understanding how an employee feels when their pet is sick or has to be put down can be helpful. Like losing a person, pet owners go through a grieving process. This is another aspect of caregiving that doesn’t get discussed in the context of employee engagement. Like any loss, your pet-owning employees should know that using a resource like an EAP is for them. Also, having a way to share pet information cuts across many diverse lines and can be used as a bridge-building topic.
One company in Denver regularly invites their employees to share pictures of their pets and then posts them with short descriptions. They found that not only did employees react very positively to all the pet pictures, it created conversations between diverse employees.
Having a list of pet services for employees is also an easy way to show support for those employees, including a good animal hospital in your area, pet service providers that can come to the home, groomers, and quality boarding/pet sitting services.
Employees Without Children
A lot of communications and focus are on families, but not every employee will have what we think of as a traditional family unit. The U.S. Census Bureau released a report in 2021 that showed that nearly 1 in 6 (16.5%), adults ages 55 and older are childless, and the levels of childlessness among older adults are expected to increase. There are younger people that have chosen not to have children. We know that social connection is very important to our health and wellbeing at any age. If employees are living alone or have been moved to a location without a social network, helping them with ways to provide a social network outside the workplace can have a big impact on their health and wellbeing.
These are a few of the diversity and inclusion areas that you can start to address along with some of the more recognized diversity and inclusion focuses like LGBTQ+, gender, ethnic or religious background. By understanding different aspects of diversity and what is important to your employees, their health and well-being, and employee engagement programs can become more intentionally inclusive. It sends the clear message that you are supporting people from all backgrounds and circumstances.
If you are looking for help to create a more inclusive workforce through a more focused health and wellbeing approach, Wellness Concepts is here to help.