Brené Brown, researcher and author, shared in her recent book Dare to Lead, “To scale daring leadership and build courage in teams and organizations, we have to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts are the expectation, and armor is not necessary or rewarded. We have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.” So, in addition to equity which we discussed in part one of this blog series, creating safe spaces where your team can feel comfortable and welcomed with open arms is equally as important.
4 Ways to Create Safe Spaces in Your CompanySo, how do you ensure that your company culture cultivates a feeling of safety and security for your employees that leads to greater engagement? Start with these four actions:
Make Your Values ClearDiversity and inclusivity need to be a core value for your company, not just a checkbox to tick off. For employees to be able to show their vulnerable sides, engage and share ideas without fear of judgement, and feel engaged and dedicated to a mission, they first must feel connected and safe. If they know that acceptance is key to your organization, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or cultural background, you’ll have loyal team members who care about your company, your customers, and your mutual success.
Encourage Tough Conversations & Vulnerability at All LevelsIn order for employees to feel safe at work, you must ensure they feel comfortable talking about anything and everything. It doesn’t mean they need to talk to everyone about uncomfortable topics, but ensure there are resources in your HR department, your management team, or bring in 3rd party providers that can help cultivate safe spaces for hard topics. Your management team needs to act when issues are brought to their attention to show that these tough conversations will always lead to accountability.
Ensure Failure is Framed as LearningWithout risk, will there ever be reward? It’s unlikely. As some of the best innovations in this world were born from failure! But for some reason, our culture preaches that failure is bad. If you have a work culture where individuals are afraid of failing, you’re indirectly stifling their creativity, shutting down their potential million-dollar ideas, and encouraging them to do things the way they’ve always been done. Whereas if failure is celebrated and used as a tool for learning and innovation, your team will feel safer taking risks that could reap potentially great rewards.
Design Employee Resources Groups for Diverse DemographicsEmployee resource groups are a highly underutilized tool in cultivating a safe and inclusive environment at work. These employee-led, voluntary groups are designed to provide camaraderie, inclusion, and a place where like-minded people can work toward common goals. The first 60 to 90 days of a new hire’s journey is critical, and a SHRM study found that employee resource groups are used by 90% of organizations to help onboard new talent and make them feel part of the company more quickly.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but every small step can make an impact on keeping your employees happy, engaged, and promoting your company as a leader in your space.