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Is Fear Holding Your Workforce Back?

In a recent Paycom webinar, we sat down with author, philanthropist and actor Hill Harper, well known for his role in ABC’s hit medical drama The Good Doctor. Off-screen, Harper is passionate about helping companies foster a culture of engagement and innovation.

According to Forbes, employees want to feel heard, valued and appreciated for who they are. What prevents them from reaching their full potential, both personally and professionally?

According to Harper, it comes down to one four-letter word: fear.

Fighting fear in the workplace

Harper described fear as an acronym standing for “false evidence appearing real.” It’s also something organizations must proactively combat when it comes to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“There is a winning strategy around diversity, and there’s a winning strategy around the idea that there are multiple ways to get to a given result. And I love the idea of we are only as strong as our so-called weakest link,” Harper explained. “It’s a bottom-up mentality rather than a top-down mentality. We are only as good as the person who doesn’t feel heard, who feels marginalized, who is not experiencing pay equity, who doesn’t have their holiday celebrated, who doesn’t even have their holiday acknowledged, who’s told to hide parts of themselves.”

And the research backs Harper up.

The Gallup Center on Black Voices recently shared that “with a lack of diverse representation in leadership and only 42% of U.S. managers strongly agreeing that they are prepared to have meaningful conversations about race with their teams, it’s increasingly important for leaders to consider the employee experience through a (diversity, equity and inclusion) lens.”

What employees want

What are Harper’s solutions for fighting fear in the workplace? It starts by engaging your workforce through technology to understand how they really feel.

“Technology is a massive piece of this puzzle,” Harper said. “And if you’re using it properly, it could help really bring new solutions that are organizational-specific. You’re not just reading some general book on human resources and organizational behavior. It’s specific to who you are, where you’re at and what you’re doing right then.” Two women are in a conversation leaning across two computers.

Using a powerful survey tool within your HR platform allows you to easily measure employee satisfaction and engagement by gathering valuable insight into what your employees want, assuming they are granted anonymity. Survey technology also shows employees they matter and that you care how they think and feel. Once you understand how your employees feel, Harper recommends establishing a culture of inclusion by better understanding and listening to their opinions.

“If we’re really going to wrap our heads around it and say we agree that there is a value to the organization for diverse voices being at the table and not just folks sitting at the table and being heard, but actually being listened to,” he said. “Because the idea of being listened to means you’re going to actually perhaps make some changes based on what you hear.”

Lines of communication

Another way to create a culture of inclusion? Get employees the answers they need fast.

One option is to implement HR tech tools and features that automatically route work-related questions to exactly the right person to answer them. That way, employees could open a conversation anytime, anywhere by logging into a self-service mobile app with round-the-clock access.

Building a diverse and inclusive workforce takes time and deliberate effort from everyone involved in an organization, but with hard work, change is possible.

“We have a whole lot of work to do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do the work,” Harper said.

To hear even more insights from our conversation with Harper, listen to the full webinar on demand.