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How to benefit from a diversified workforce

Employers often take a one-size-fits-all approach to business, and then suffer from bad recruitment decisions or an inability to keep staffing levels up because the potential candidate pool is limited. Adapting your workplace to employee needs can actually improve your company’s outcomes while contributing to a more open and accepting national environment.

Creative thinking when it comes to workplace environments, job descriptions and division of labour, hours and scheduling, and employee expectations, can open up enormous candidate pools. There are two ways of approaching the challenge of how to adapt your business: reducing barriers and increasing appeal. Reducing barriers involves taking a hard look at what sorts of expectations or constraints are present in your business, and how critical they are to your success.

Often, on-the-job expectations   from the physical workspaces to the schedule, the job descriptions to the employee codes, and where and how you conduct hiring processes.

Increasing appeal starts with the potential employee instead of the workplace. Whereas reducing barriers is about examining the existing business for things that exist but don’t need to, increasing appeal is about considering who could be a potential employee, and why they’re not interested or successful in your workplace, and what sorts of things would be attractive enough to them to make them want to work for you.

A diversified workforce could mean lots of things, and you might choose to increase diversity across all these factors or pick on area to work on expanding at a time. Consider ageism: is your workplace attractive or accessible to younger or elderly workers, or is it solely staffed by adults in their prime? Is there uneven gender or ethnic origin representation? Are the educational, experience, or training level restrictions unnecessarily high?

If you’re struggling to find enough employees, particularly as Brexit drains access to international talent, or you want to run a more ethical business, you need to start breaking free of false restrictions and reaching out to a wider candidate pool. Are there roles within your business that could be staffed by former offenders, undereducated adults, or those who have struggled with substance abuse, for instance? These are potentially large populations who need to find work, and you can of course have some expectations in place to make sure workers are responsible. It’s fast and easy to get results back from a drug testing laboratory if you need to require sobriety from an at-risk workforce, and you can divide spaces in such a way as to reduce the risk of crime if that’s a concern.

Work needs to be available to a wider segment of the population in order for our nation to thrive, and businesses need more employees to maintain operations and grow. There’s a positive feedback cycle that could be triggered and your business can benefit from opportunities others are missing if you look for ways to reduce barriers to employment and increase the appeal of your workplace to a wider pool of candidates.

(Photos: DepositPhotos)

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