For several years, research from a myriad of different sources has demonstrated that employees who make an effort to hide their true identity or aspects of themselves fall victim to stunted performance. For example, many LGBT employees who have not come out yet feel isolated at work, and it shows in their performance, which leads to career stagnation. Unfortunately, the issue goes far beyond the gay community and gender preference. According to the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion report, approximately 61 percent of employees hide their identity and differences because they think it will make their coworkers uncomfortable. There are four ways listed below on how to create a safe space for insecure employees or for the ones who feel marginalized.
Take the Initiative by Downplaying
Instead of trying to tackle a large idea and topic like diversity, it might be helpful to downplay or cover aspects of you and your team. This is more beneficial than tackling diversity because some employees will assume it does not apply to them. Covering and downplaying aspects of yourself fosters a rapport between the employees, management, and you. Also, it is beneficial in promoting dialogue.
Emphasize Physical Safety
Don’t forget to make physical safety and security a big part of your business approach and in making everyone feel comfortable and safe. Just as you would burglar proof your home, invest in business security systems and alarms that will protect your assets and your employees. Keep doors locked and provide key-card access to qualifies employees.
Tell Your Story
Many new employees find it helpful to hear someone in management’s story to feel more connected and personal. It is okay for you to talk about your vulnerabilities to new and insecure employees. Share your own personal experience about a time when you felt like you had to hide something at work out of fear of being marginalized. This is leading by example, and it is empowering to employees.
Ensure Your Staff Is Diversified to Begin With
You want to be sure your employees are diverse to begin with, because it will help you determine how much time you need to devote to creating a safe space. It is possible for management to analyze hiring stats and practices and going over the data will clarify whether or not you are actively seeking diversity in the workplace.
Tell the Staff There Is a Safe Space for Them
After following through with the other tips and getting to know new staff members, it is simple enough to inform them you have created a safe space in the workplace. Assure them the safe space is there to foster ongoing communication. This will ensure your employees are more likely to approach you if they feel like they are keeping something personal a secret at work.
For many reasons, there are employees actively downplaying or covering the differences. Managers are responsible for making sure they feel comfortable being themselves as long as they remain professional while doing so. The four tips above on creating a safe space at work will be helpful for managers wanting to make their staff as productive as possible.