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Following a year marked by the “Great Reset,” 2023 is bound to bring even more employee management challenges, from spiking attrition to falling morale amid the economic downturn. As these challenges compound and priorities continue to shift, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) programs can serve as a hedge against these trends.
The companies that make a concerted effort to establish equity and work-life balance for their employees will see tangible benefits in the year to come. DEIB programs are central to retaining the best talent, but it goes beyond programming, too: Between its role in upholding work-life balance guardrails to avoiding burnout, DEIB is an important effort to create a strong company culture that can power through tough economic times.
Here are some of the top employee management challenges that companies face today, and how DEIB programs play a part in solving them:
DEIB as a critical tool against today’s challenges
Companies across industries are experiencing rising employee disengagement rates. Even as economic patterns shift, the issue prevails, with some studies estimating that as much as half of the U.S. workforce are “quiet quitters.”
With many quiet quitters driven by burnout, DEIB can play a role in reversing this pattern. Why? Psychological safety is powerful — so much so, that people bypass extra money and better benefits in exchange for feeling safe at work. It’s human nature for people to want to stay in a place where they feel they belong and where their opinions and needs are valued. One study found that employees who feel a strong sense of belonging demonstrate a 50% reduction in turnover risk, a 56% increase in performance and a 75% decrease in sick days. Employees are more likely to stay at companies that see diverse perspectives as a business imperative — and DEIB programming helps build and nurture this sense of belonging.
On the other side of the coin, despite economic headwinds, many companies are continuing to hire for priority roles and compete for top talent. Companies that historically haven’t been able to match large salaries from Big Tech can compete by creating a culture where all people can thrive. In fact, 86% of job seekers rank a company’s DEIB approach as a motivating factor for them when looking at their next role.
Securing the buy-in to make it happen
To see the above results, it’s critical to build a well-resourced and data-driven DEIB program. As recession fears prompt budget cuts across organizations, maintaining well-resourced DEIB programs should be a priority for leaders. Even so, securing buy-in from the top can be a challenge.
Diversity roles are in high demand – “diversity and inclusion manager” was the second fastest-growing job title this year, according to LinkedIn. But DEIB role tenure, especially in the C-suite, is alarmingly short. That’s because underfunded teams can only do so much, and DEIB leaders aren’t immune to burnout themselves. DEIB leaders need continued resources to preserve and grow their efforts and effectively hedge against market conditions.
Communicating the business case and outlining thorough plans can help DEIB leaders convince other stakeholders to join them in championing their missions. I’ve found that having honest conversations with an open mind and asking questions to learn more about where other stakeholders are coming from has helped me make my case to leaders throughout my career.
Data is also central to DEIB — in both getting programs up and running and in iterating for improvement. Hard numbers are an effective way to secure important resources and support from leaders. Data also helps “lean” DEIB teams understand where they must focus their time and resources to make a meaningful impact. It also helps teams predict trends and anticipate needs and gaps ahead (recruiting, turnover, engagement, etc.).
All challenges have solutions — and when it comes to solving “people problems,” DEIB is the answer. As economic uncertainty continues, these programs are not the place to cut. Good company culture is a boon right now, and DEIB plays a critical role in building and maintaining it.