Workplace inclusion has the power to impact mental health positively, while absence can do the same negatively.
While it’s sometimes assumed poor mental health at work stems from personal issues, workplace inclusion can seriously affect how a person feels.
In fact, the presence of workplace inclusion has the power to impact mental health positively, while the absence can do the same negatively.
Here we look at what creates workplace inclusion, how it can affect mental health, and how it can be fostered.
What is workplace inclusion?
Workplace inclusion is a broad term that can include organisational culture, the way management leads, or even the way teams work together.
At the core of it, it’s how we feel when we work with others while completing our day-to-day responsibilities.
Generally, an inclusive team is one where all people feel:
- Treated fairly
How does workplace inclusion affect mental health?
A new report released by Diversity Council Australia, Mapping the State of Inclusion and Mental Health in the Australian Workforce, found that almost the same number of respondents reported that work negatively impacted their mental health as did positively.
Where the impact was positive, respondents also reported:
- their workplace was safe and supportive.
- their workplace had an inclusive organisational climate.
- feel like they can talk to their colleagues or team members about their mental health.
Where the impact was negative, respondents reported:
- being left out of social gatherings.
- feeling others make assumptions about their abilities.
- being ignored.
- Not having the same access to opportunities.
Research tells us that improving workplace inclusion will:
- Improve the mental well-being of all team members.
- Improve the economic performance of the business.
- Improve retention.
- Reduce absenteeism.
- Improve workplace wellness overall.
Who is responsible for workplace inclusion?
It’s the responsibility of the employer, and to a degree, each employee, to create a safe and inclusive environment at the workplace.
All individuals can contribute to building inclusive relationships with their team and colleagues. Inclusive relationships include:
- Valuing differences
- Seeking out diversity and differences in opinions
- Addressing any unfair or discriminatory behaviour
- Hearing everyone equally
- Valuing each person’s contributions
- Looking for ways to support the progress of their peers.
How you can foster greater inclusion in the workplace
Learn about the identities of your team
Age, gender, cultural identity, and socioeconomic background (among other things) will affect that person’s opportunities in life. It will also affect how they perceive workplace inclusion. Find out about your team and your colleagues and be conscious about how their identity might affect their experience of inclusion.
Incorporate new perspectives
Growth comes from challenging the status quo. Encourage different opinions and be open to changing how things are done in the workplace. Challenge yourself to continue to learn about DEI.
If you are providing feedback, ensure it is balanced. Check in with your team to ensure all staff have the resources to complete their jobs and that they feel their contributions are being heard.