Boost Employee Confidence and Inclusion by Creating Voice Space

Amid the Great Resignation, leaders are clamoring to retain and attract a diverse workforce while many managers are struggling with how to lead inclusively. In McKinsey’s research on that topic — what it refers to as the Great Attrition — employees reported that not feeling valued and lacking a sense of belonging were important factors affecting their decision to leave their previous job. Unfortunately, practical leadership approaches to address these challenges are hard to come by. Research-based frameworks such as social identity theory and optimal distinctiveness theory give us a foundational understanding of inclusion, but they do not address enhancing inclusion at an actionable level within the workplace. What does inclusion actually feel like at work? How do leaders shape the feeling of inclusion? In our study, we wanted to see how employees described and experienced inclusion at a level of depth that surveys could not reveal. After interviewing a purposeful sample of employees, we analyzed over 15 hours of stories of inclusion and exclusion. Our participants came from four different industries across eight job types and were diverse in terms of gender, race, and career level.

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