Isn’t Inclusion All About Employee Engagement?

We love using fancy words, new terms and coming up with new terms and words because we like shiny new things. But we now have a problem where we spend our time navigating different terms, words, definitions, differences of opinion, and the list goes on, instead of actually getting shit done.

Two critically important topics in organizations today are workplace inclusion and employee engagement. I’ve blogged and spoken about these topics countless times. I’ve debated about the difference between diversity and inclusion, the connection between the two, how they differ and connect to “sense of belonging”, and where employee engagement fits. Unfortunately these debates and conversations sometimes are more complicated than they need to be. Yet, these conversations are needed in order to progress, learn and do great things.

I think the timing is right to revisit workplace inclusion and employee engagement, particularly how they connect. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Those organizations that have highly inclusive workplaces also have highly engaged employees. There’s a positive direct correlation between the two.

What is Workplace Inclusion?

Workplace inclusion is where every single employee is fully respected and valued for the contributions they bring to the organization, regardless of their individual differences. It occurs when barriers are knocked down so all employees can bring their true selves to work and realize success and their full potential in what they do. 

Research has identified 4 levers that drive inclusion. They are:

  • Inclusive Leaders – it starts at the top; always has and always will.
  • Authenticity – the organization allows each employee to bring their whole selves to work, every single day.
  • Networking & Visibility – employees who receive senior-level sponsorship and support.
  • Clear Career Paths – self-explanatory

What is Employee Engagement?

Coming up with the key things that drive employee engagement at your organization is difficult because every organization is different by virtue of their unique workforce. Many share the same drivers, and many don’t. However, what is consistent is that what drives engagement has everything to do with how employees feel about their work, organization and everything in between. High engagement is when “employees are fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests”.

It’s all about emotional connection and how employees feel at work. Quickly take a look at the 4 levers that drive workplace inclusion. Would you say that they could also contribute to strengthening employee engagement? The answer?

Absofrickinglutely YES!

Those organizations that are successfully building inclusive workplaces will ALWAYS have high employee engagement. Always. Every single time. The connection between the two is unbelievably strong because their influencers are the same. They’re all about how people feel at work.

Final Tid Bit

It’s important to understand which comes first. Inclusion or Engagement? It’s important to understand that inclusion impacts engagement, and not the other way around. Employee engagement is positively impacted when you focus on improving workplace inclusion.

In working to improve inclusion and engagement in your organizations it’s really important to partner with a software solution that will allow you to gather, measure, analyze and action on high quality data. Once you have identified your organizations’ key drivers of engagement you can put an action plan in place, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

One comment

  • Dear Jeff,

    these were exactly my thoughts. In the past I was focused merely on the topic of engagement, but while discovering reasons for disengagement, the topic of inclusion pumped up. Over and over again. If an employee does not feel included, a part of a team, accepted just as he or she is, forget about engagement.

    Regards, Katarina

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