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Last week, Katie Mehnert wrote a piece called, “The Secret to Having it All.” It’s worth circling back to if you missed it, but one important point she made is this:
“You can have it all but it’s all about what THAT is. See the pretty picture of the kids, dog, and happily married couple? That’s one version of “all”. Because we all come from various places and value different things, all needs to be relative.”
People want to “have it all,” but it looks different to everyone
Whether you’re in the c suite, another leadership role, or even HR, this point cannot be overstated. You need diversity to operate a successful company, but once you create a diverse workplace, the concept of “having it all” is going to look different for each of your employees. Rest assured, they want to “have it all,” whatever that may look like to them, and with a workplace culture in which your team feels empowered, you’ll not only have better morale but more engagement and loyalty too—things that directly impact areas like innovation and profit.
The question then becomes, “If ‘having it all’ means something different to each person, how can companies genuinely create a culture that empowers employees to strive for it?”
And the answer: It’s actually easier to create inclusive policies than you think.
Begin with authenticity
Inclusivity planning won’t work if it’s not authentic and felt at every level. That means whether your initiatives start with the CEO or HR department, everyone needs to be on board with it, understand the benefits, and live it.
Create equal advancement opportunities
McKinsey and Lean In’s 2019 Women in the Workplace study revealed that, even though companies feel like they’re creating equal opportunities to advance, employees don’t see it. “Fewer than half of women and men think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees, and fewer than a quarter say that only the most qualified candidates are promoted to manager,” the report contends. But there are steps companies can take to turn things around:
Give managers tools and training
Although most managers advocate for their team when it comes to new opportunities and help employees manage their careers, the study says, they don’t do it with consistency. Providing managers with the training and tools they need to offer better consistent support, and rewarding those who follow through, creates a culture of empowerment on the front lines.
We often talk about the importance of mentorship, and that’s a huge deal as well, but sponsorship involves matching an employee with a senior staffer who serves as that employee’s champion. Sponsors are actively engaged in their protégé’s career development and help them make connections that drive advancement. According to the report, sponsorship not only colors the protégé’s perception of the level of support they’re receiving but genuinely accelerates career advancement.
Eliminate biases in hiring and promotions
Helping employees feel like they can have it all means setting the groundwork to ensure they really can. The survey revealed that fewer than 2% of companies are using the four fundamental building blocks of bias elimination.
- Create diversity targets
- Require diverse candidate pools for all hiring and promotion opportunities
- Establish evaluation criteria that are clear and consistent before starting reviews
- Mandate unconscious bias training for everyone involved in hiring and performance reviews
Provide scheduling flexibility & require time away
A major component of having it all is being able to balance work/ life obligations. Again, what this looks like will be different for everyone. Give employees options like flexible schedules, telecommuting, and floating holidays to make it easier to balance obligations. On a similar note, taking vacation time should not be optional. People will skip their vacations if they think it’s going to reflect poorly on them, but being chained to a desk makes it impossible to have work/life balance. Ultimately, companies that embrace flexibility will be further ahead.
Create blocks of time for personal fulfillment activities
Google had a rule which required employees to spend 20% of their time working on projects they thought would help the company, and it resulted in major innovations like Gmail, AdSense, and Google Talk. The problem: the company changed things up and required employees to get manager approval for their projects and managers were rated on whether their teams were meeting company goals. Managers stopped approving and the program was shelved. Google later officially stopped the program altogether, saying a different innovation strategy became necessary as it grew, but the truth is it died long before they pulled the plug because the culture and supposed values weren’t aligned. Companies can learn from Google’s example and find ways for employees to be personally fulfilled within their work, to the advantage of all.
Keep following and join for more tips
Following the steps outlined here will help your team feel like they can have it all and genuinely ensure they can, but it’s only a portion of a comprehensive strategy. Want your employees to have it all too? Join Pink Petro to get the latest news, connect with peers, and stay up to date on the best ways to grow a stronger, healthier company.