Diversity in the workplace encompasses a range of elements. Differences in national origin, primary language, religion, social status and age can benefit or harm organizations. Managing diversity effectively is the key to leveraging the advantages and minimizing the disadvantages of diversity in the workplace.
Co-workers with diverse cultural backgrounds bring unique experiences and perceptions to the table in groups and work teams. Pooling the diverse knowledge and skills of culturally distinct workers together can benefit companies by strengthening teams’ productivity and responsiveness to changing conditions.
Each employee in a diverse workplace possesses unique strengths and weaknesses derived from their culture in addition to their individuality. When managed properly, diversity in the workplace can leverage the strengths and complement the weaknesses of each worker to make the impact of the workforce greater than the sum of its parts. Learning And Growth
Another advantage of workplace diversity is the opportunity for employees’ personal growth. Being exposed to new ideas, cultures and perspectives can help individuals to reach out intellectually and gain a clearer view of their surroundings and their place in the world. Spending time with culturally diverse co-workers can slowly break down the subconscious barriers of ethnocentrism and xenophobia, encouraging employees to be more
well-rounded members of society.
Diversity impacts workplace communication in positive and negative ways. Between co-workers, diversity can place impediments in the way of effective communication, which can directly dampen productivity and the cohesiveness of small groups. Spending time with diverse employees can break down communication barriers over the long-term, but first impressions and co-workers’ orientation periods can be difficult to control when cultures clash.
Diversity can strengthen your company’s relationships with specific customer groups by making communication more effective. Customer service representatives can be paired up with customers from their specific demographic, making the customer feel comfortable with the representative, and thus with the company. A number of companies in the southwest United States, for example, prefer to hire bi-lingual customer service reps to deal with Spanish-speaking customers in their native language. Integration Issues
Social integration at work can only be influenced to a small degree. The formation of cliques and exclusive social groups is a natural process that can be impossible to control at times. Because of this, companies can experience informal divisions in their staff, creating a situation where culturally diverse employees avoid exposure to each other during break times and after work. Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this scenario, it can hinder the effectiveness of sharing knowledge, skills and experience, thus curbing productivity growth and the effectiveness of teams.
Diversity can help your business grow internationally.
Promotion & Awareness of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity is a hot button topic that is often discussed as a requirement, rather than as a competitive business advantage. With the proper environment, diversity can allow your small business to understand the needs of different customer segments, to widen the international scope of your operations and to increase the breadth of your idea generation. Diversity can apply to gender, national origin, physical attributes, sexual orientation, ethnic affiliation and regional differences.
Access to a wide range of experiences can increase innovation and idea creation for your business. Cultural exposure, language understanding, experience with physical limitations or collective experience as a member of a group can be a treasure trove of ideas for new products, new customer interaction strategies and advertising methods. A variety of perspectives helps provide sparks for creativity to flourish and helps new ideas emerge.
Compliance with Legal Diversity Requirements
A diverse workforce can allow you to minimize potential allegations of non-compliance to regulatory diversity requirements. Although proper actions in regards to hiring, promotions and employee behavior still must comply with regulations, diversity may minimize an environment that harbors discrimination.
Employees with a strong background in different cultural environments, language backgrounds and ethnic affiliations may allow your business to explore new markets. Individuals with international understanding and language skills can allow you to offer products to foreign clients and expand your business reach naturally. In some instances, diverse employees can help your company adapt to demographic changes in your physical location.
Increased Customer Relations
Your existing and potential customers may come from diverse backgrounds. Employees that resemble the natural diversity in society can help your company increase customer relationship connections. Shared visions can allow your employees to reach out to customers, relate to their needs and address concerns in a manner that reaches them at their level. Customers that feel heard and understood are more likely to become repeat customers.
Companies that promote diversity, inclusion and promotion of talent over personal traits are often viewed favorably by customers, business partners and the media. The business also becomes known as a good place to work and has a greater chance of recruiting talented individuals. Positive environments are a breeding ground for success that attracts the best and brightest from all backgrounds.
Laura Acevedo has been a professional writer for more than 15 years. With a background in business, international relations, psychology and technology, Acevedo writes from both experience and an educational foundation. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Florida and undergraduate degrees in business and psychology.
The Houston Chronicle is the premier local news provider for the country’s 4th largest city. Currently the nation’s sixth-largest newspaper, the Houston Chronicle is a multimedia company publishing print and online products in English and Spanish that reach millions of people each month. The Houston Chronicle is owned by the Hearst Corporation. Read about limitations of Manpower Planning
Teamwork in the workplace can present certain disadvantages.
Much has been written and said about the concept of teamwork in the workplace. Teamwork is typically viewed as a positive concept, as it brings together a group of employees who work for the benefit of the business. While teamwork does offer a variety of advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages you should be aware of when implementing a team concept in your workplace. Ads by Google
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With some teams, there can be a tendency for members to sit back and let others do most of the work. This can cause resentment in the workplace, especially if you as a business owner recognize only the efforts of the team and not those of its leaders. Conflict may occur as a result, which can have a detrimental effect on workplace morale.
Not Team Players
Some workers may not function well as part of a team, preferring to work on their own. If your work environment requires working as a team to accomplish a task, you’ll need to be sure you’re screening out the ;quot;loners;quot; during the hiring process. While these individuals may be excellent workers in the right environment, they’ll likely have difficulty fitting into your work culture, resulting in dissatisfaction.
Teamwork may also limit creative thinking. Employees may be so focused on working for the overall good of the team and fitting in to the team concept that they put their own ideas on the back burner. This lack of innovative thinking may keep your company from moving forward, resulting in stagnation.
According to the Entrepreneur.com, a team can sometimes take longer to produce a desired result. Teams typically need to go through a variety of processes, such as member selection, organization and socialization on the way to completing the task at hand. Teams can also result in added expense, as they can tie up resources like money, manpower and equipment.
Whenever a group of people is assembled to achieve a goal, at least some conflict is likely to occur. Contrasting personal styles can clash and some members may have difficulty accepting ideas that differ from their own. Peer pressure can also result in a team member going against her better judgment to escape the wrath of other members or to facilitate the completion of a project.