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How Diversity Training Programs Can Make Offices Better Places to Work

Every year, companies strive to acquire and retain top talent. The cost of recruiting a new employee compared to retaining a current one varies from one business to the next, but it’s typically significant. One example used by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) estimated the cost of a hospital losing one nurse making $75,000 a year at $41,000, more than half the nurse’s annual salary.

So, preventing turnover has become a priority for many companies. How can employers prevent great employees from leaving? One way is to make the office a great place to work—and diversity training programs can be surprisingly effective at achieving this!

How Can Diversity Training Make My Office a Better Place to Work?

The common perception of diversity training is that it’s dreadfully boring at best, and that it doesn’t do much to impact the workplace. And, when diversity training is done incorrectly, it can fulfill that stereotype.
However, when done right, diversity training can strengthen a business and make it a better place for everyone to work. This is because diversity training can:

  • Give Employees a Safe Space to Voice Opinions and Build Connections. In many organizations, employees feel the need to suppress aspects of their personalities that they fear might be viewed negatively by others. Closed-door sessions in diversity training allow different communities, such as women, LGBTQ, and minorities, to come together and build connections that make them more comfortable voicing their opinions.
  • Build Relationships Between Employees. As noted in an article on Big Think by management expert Jennifer Brown, “studies show that the source of our happiness comes from the quality of our relationships… By helping your employees build strong networks you’re really helping your organization succeed.” Diversity training provides a chance for different groups to form those relationships and strengthen existing ones. Members of a minority group get the chance to see that they’re not alone and create peer networks that enrich their time at the workplace.
  • Develop Inclusiveness in the Office. Most employers don’t engage in exclusion with any conscious, intentional effort. Rather, exclusion happens accidentally as a result of learned behaviors/habits. Diversity training helps break down these habits and increase inclusion in the workforce—developing the habits of inclusion for workers and managers alike, so everyone is comfortable working inclusively to the point that it becomes second nature.

By breaking down the habits that lead to discriminatory or exclusive behavior, encouraging cohesion, building relationships, and giving employees a place where they can voice their opinions safely, diversity training programs can make your office a much better place to work.

How Does Making My Office a Better Place to Work Benefit Me?

There are many benefits to making your office a better place to work beyond simply landing a spot on some “Best Places to Work” list.
First, there’s the aforementioned benefit of reduced turnover. Happy, engaged employees who enjoy their work environment are far more likely to stay than ones who feel excluded or undervalued. This helps you keep great employees and avoid all of the incidental costs of lost productivity and recruitment.
Second, making your office a better place to work can increase productivity and creativity among your employees. A diverse workforce with a broad range of experiences and personalities is more likely to be adaptable to new challenges and demands—but only when employees are encouraged to share their perspectives.
Diversity training helps make employees more comfortable bringing their perspectives to the group, which means more perspectives and potential solutions will be shared. Also, diversity provides a wide scope of skills to the workforce, increasing the likelihood of someone having the right skillset to deal with a specific challenge.
Finally, diversity training provides leaders with the opportunity to foster an open workplace and earn the respect of different groups of employees. As Jennifer Brown noted in an article about how diversity training strengthens businesses, “Everything you do as a leader matters and is watched by groups of employees… They’re watching to see, ‘Do you respect me? Do you understand me? And have you earned my buying power?’”
By going through a diversity training program with employees, leaders can build transparency, demonstrate respect, improve their communication skills, and gain an understanding of their employees. Showing employees that you respect them tells them that their leader is also worthy of respect. This can lead to more employee buy-in on company initiatives and, eventually, a better bottom line as metrics for productivity and turnover improve.
Diversity training programs are so much more than just another mundane office initiative. When done right, they can foster incredible growth for an office’s employees and make the organization as a whole a better, more rewarding place to work.

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