How DEIB programs can help solve today’s biggest employee management challenges

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

After a year marked by the “Great Reset”, 2023 will no doubt bring even more challenges to workforce management, from high turnover to falling morale amid the economic downturn. As these challenges grow and priorities continue to shift, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) programs can serve as a safeguard against these trends.

Those companies that make a concerted effort to bring about fairness and work-life balance for their employees will see tangible benefits in the coming year. DEIB programs are central to retaining the best talent, but it also goes beyond programming: between its role in maintaining the work-life barriers and preventing burnout, DEIB is an important effort to create a strong corporate culture that can get through tough economic times.

Here are some of the biggest workforce management challenges facing businesses today, and how DEIB programs play a role in solving them:

Related: The importance of diversity and inclusion in uncertain times

DEIB as a crucial tool against today’s challenges

Companies in all industries are experiencing rising employee exit rates. Even as economic patterns shift, the problem remains, and some studies estimate that as much as half of the US workforce are “silent quitters”.

With many silent quitters driven by burnout, DEIB may play a role in reversing this pattern. Why? Psychological safety is so powerful that people bypass extra money and better benefits in exchange for feeling safe at work. It is human nature that people want to stay in a place where they feel at home and where their opinions and needs are valued. A study found that employees who feel a strong sense of belonging show a 50% reduction in turnover risk, a 56% increase in performance and a 75% reduction in sick days. Employees are more likely to stay with companies that see different perspectives as a business necessity – and DEIB programming helps build and nurture this sense of belonging.

On the other side of the coin, despite economic headwinds, many companies continue to hire people for priority positions and compete for top talent. Companies that have historically been unable to match big tech salaries can compete by creating a culture where all people can thrive. In fact, 86% of job seekers consider a company’s DEIB approach as a motivating factor for them when considering their next job.

Related: 7 ways leaders can improve their DEI workplace strategy

Securing the buy-in to make it happen

To see the above results, it is critical to build a well-equipped and data-driven DEIB program. As the recession raises fears of organizational budget cuts, maintaining well-funded DEIB programs should be a priority for leaders. Still, it can be challenging to get buy-in from the top.

Diversity roles are in high demand – “diversity and inclusion manager” was the one second fastest growing job title this year, according to LinkedIn. But DEIB’s tenure, especially in the C-suite, is alarming short. That’s because underfunded teams can only do so much, and DEIB leaders themselves aren’t immune to burnout. DEIB leaders need ongoing resources to maintain 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 advocating their missions. I’ve found that having honest, open-minded conversations and asking questions to learn more about where other stakeholders are coming from has helped me make my case for leaders throughout my career.

Data is also at the heart of DEIB – both when launching programs and iterating for improvement. Hard numbers are an effective way to secure important resources and support from leaders. Data also helps “streamlined” DEIB teams understand where to focus their time and resources to make a meaningful impact. It also helps teams predict trends and anticipate future needs and gaps (recruitment, turnover, engagement, etc.).

All challenges have solutions – and when it comes to solving ‘human problems’, DEIB is the answer. As economic uncertainty continues, these programs are not the place to cut spending. A good company culture is a blessing right now and DEIB plays a vital role in building and maintaining it.

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