We often talk about a shared company culture that employees can identify with and embrace, but we hardly talk about the benefits of promoting individuality as part of that company culture.
While it may seem contradictory to highlight differences when you’re trying to unite your organization, celebrating differences can actually be beneficial to job satisfaction, mental health, wellbeing, productivity, and employee engagement.
When employees feel comfortable to share who they are and express themselves, it creates a culture where they can freely be themselves and not worry about being subject to toxicity in the workplace.
Below is everything you need to know about how to promote individuality at work.
Why individuality is important
A Harvard Business Review study recently showed that 61% of workers downplay their identities and differences at work because they don’t feel comfortable being themselves. For example, LGBTQ employees who conceal their identities say they feel much more isolated and anxious as a result of not feeling safe to express who they are.
79% of Blacks and African Americans, 67% of women, and even 45% of straight white men all said that they felt an urge to downplay their identities at work in order to not draw attention to themselves.
For hiring managers and industry leaders, this is a real problem for the office environment. Creating a work environment and climate that is hospitable and inclusive to all workers is imperative to boost morale, employee retention, mental health, wellbeing, and productivity.
Creating a healthy, welcoming, safe, and inclusive work environment should be a priority for all industry leaders, and focusing on individuality in the workplace is one sure way to see improvements across all of these metrics.
How to promote individuality at work
Before we get into the different ways to promote individuality at work, it’s important to remember that individuals are made up of various intersections of identity that range from race, gender, and nationality, to disabilities, physical traits, and self-expression through art or hobbies.
In order to allow employees to express themselves openly, it’s important to give them space and to allow them to highlight the parts of their identity that are important to them.
Employers can start promoting individuality at work by:
- Cubicle/desk space decorations - This is a simple and fun way to allow employees to express themselves through their work space. Encourage them to post pictures of their families, pets, favorite musicians, favorite movies, and other cultural items that are important to them.
- Set the tone through onboarding - The quickest and surest way to establish the importance of individuality at work is through the onboarding process. Traditional onboarding is about skills, expectations, and responsibilities, but you can also define important company values, like individuality, in the early stages of bringing on new hires.
- Model through leadership - Leading by example is one of the most effective and clearest ways to pass on values to your employees. By having leaders l demonstrate how to express themselves and encourage individuality in the workplace, you’re creating a model that employees can follow.
- Host diversity days - Whether you’re promoting diversity through culture, race, gender, or nationality, promoting diversity in the workplace through a fun event, like an international potluck, is a great way to create fun and excitement through individuality.
Companies need to start reevaluating how they communicate and demonstrate their values on individuality if they want to start seeing employees feeling more comfortable and more safe at work.
By allowing employees to decorate their work spaces, learn through onboarding, have a point of reference through model leaders, and express themselves with diversity days, you’re ensuring that you’re creating a safe and welcoming work environment for everyone.
Grokker can help employees come together through health and wellbeing
For a lot of people, fitness, nutrition, financial wellbeing, and general health is a huge point of who they are and what makes them unique.
People are passionate about the different things they do to stay healthy and feel great, and providing your employees with a comprehensive and multi-pronged wellbeing solution can allow your employees to express their individuality through their wellbeing goals and accomplishments.
Empower your workforce to feel great about who they are with Grokker today.