The face of the service industry is changing.
Between age, race, gender, sexual orientation, soft skills, technical experience, and a host of other factors, employers are prioritizing representation during the hiring process. Even though diversity is top-of-mind, misconceptions and confusion remain. During our Service Leaders Spring Break sessions, we talked to several service leaders about how to create a diversity plan, how to ensure diversity across the entire organization (from recruitment and training through each individual department, the long list of benefits of a diverse team — and most importantly, where to start.
As guest speaker Roy Dockery, the VP of Customer Care at Swisslog Healthcare, explained during our event, “Diversity and inclusion gives you the best outcomes in many scenarios, including having a productive team, being innovative, and offering people from various backgrounds the opportunity to have fulfilling careers.”
Develop the right diversity strategy for your organization.
It takes conscious effort to ensure that diversity and inclusion remains a priority in your business. Here are four tried-and-true approaches to attracting a wider range of candidates, making your company more attractive to potential employees, and reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce.
- Define who you’re looking for. There are so many ways to look at diversity that go beyond race and gender. Education, national origin, age, physical and cognitive capability, socioeconomic background, citizenship status, geographic location, and sexual orientation are among the many ways we define ourselves — and they all affect the way we view the world and relate to each other. When determining what the “right fit” looks like, it can help to align on certain behaviors, language, and more that would never be acceptable within your organization. After that’s established, go in the opposite direction of those factors.
- Discover approaches for finding a diverse candidate pool. It’s not enough to simply want diversity and inclusion — it has to show up in your company’s practices. Service leaders are responsible for making sure they are recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates and creating the right “net.” One way to do so is by taking a look at your job descriptions. Are the ads indicative of the diverse talent pool that you hope to attract, or are you unconsciously signaling that your company is not for them? Do your job requirements reflect the workforce you are trying to hire? If not, it might be time to strip it back. For example, if the job description requires a Bachelor’s degree, but most of your workforce has an Associates, then you are eliminating an entire group of qualified candidates from applying. Additionally, look beyond a perfect job history fit, and consider the skill sets and personalities that your candidates bring to the table. Even if their experience isn’t a perfect fit, their raw talent and aptitude can make them teachable and may fill in other gaps in the organization.
- Keep building relationships and developing trust within your organization. It’s important to foster a communicative environment outside of the hiring process. Consider conducting employee engagement surveys to get a pulse on how individuals, teams, and the company as a whole are doing. You can also use these questionnaires to gather feedback on how your team is feeling about the work environment, how connected they are to your mission, and how they feel about your company’s culture. Additionally, keep on providing avenues for employees and managers to communicate with each other without the fear of being penalized. Any feedback that arises out of these discussions can be brought to leadership and help drive improvements within the company.
- Support your employees’ development. Showing understanding for your employees can go a long way with retention. Oftentimes, when a person is hired for a job, employers want them to follow a certain path so that they can continue progressing in a way that makes sense for the company. However, development plans need to be agreed upon — and it pays to get to know your employees, check in with them periodically, and talk to them about where they see themselves one, five, or ten years down the line. For example, older technicians might have retirement on their mind. In such cases, it would be ideal to use their skills to train junior technicians instead of having them in the field all day. Others may want to stay close to home, so in that instance, it might be better to have them spend their days writing knowledge articles in order to minimize traveling. Additionally, some employees may want to use their talents for a different team — so it’s important to help them create a plan that doesn’t limit their success based on tenure.
Diversity is intentional.
A diverse workforce is more than a hiring process. It’s hard work to make sure that your candidate pipeline and overall organization remains diverse — but it is important and rewarding in a way that surpasses statistics. In the end, such a workforce doesn’t simply happen. It is built through years of conscious practice, and must be ingrained throughout a company’s mission, protocol, structure, and people.
Tune into our interactive Creating Meaningful Diversity in Service session to take a look at how today’s industry leaders are creating workforces that are engaged, empowered, and equitable.