Posted June 23rd, 2022
“When DEI is strong, people are supported and valued as humans…They’re empowered to do their best work—free from stress, distraction, and harm that results from prejudice, bias, unfair treatment, or the feeling that they have to assimilate or hide their true selves in order to be successful.”— Mykaela Doane, Head of People at Gtmhub, to Built In
Going into 2022, organizations may have planned to improve or enhance DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) goals. But are they actually succeeding?
In this post, we cover:
DEI includes race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values, national origin, or political beliefs.
Part of improving DEI is setting DEI goals in the first place. You’d think this would be a given, but recent data from Built In’s State of DEI in Tech 2022 report says otherwise.
While 40% of company leaders planned to report on DEI metrics in 2022, 30% say their companies currently have no DEI programs or are making poor progress toward DEI goals. Why?
Let’s use hiring as an example. Companies missed their DEI hiring goals in 2021 due to:
Have employers succeeded in building more diverse workforces? Yes and no. Regarding gender, over 64% of respondents in the 2022 survey identified as women—-a jump from over 51% who responded in 2020.
However, non-binary employees are still underrepresented. Eighty-seven percent of non-binary individuals make up less than 10 percent of staff. Anti–LGBTQ discrimination is still all-too-prevalent. According to CNBC, over 45% of LGBTQ workers say they’ve experienced unfair treatment at work, including being fired, not hired, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lives.
That doesn’t mean that LGBTQ workers feel that they have to suffer in silence. Three-fourths say that it’s crucial for them to work at a company where they’re comfortable expressing their identity, and two-thirds say they’d leave their current job if they felt they couldn’t do so.
In matters of racial disparity, workforces were reportedly 20% more diverse in 2022 than in 2020. While workforces with Black or African American employees increased by 13%, they remain glaringly underrepresented. Almost two in three companies (62%) say Black or African American employees account for less than 10 percent of their workforce.
One area that notably improved was the hiring of employees with mental disabilities. In 2020, 36% of companies said they had no employees with disabilities. The number dropped to 12% in 2022. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for ageism in tech. Nearly 90% of employers say that their workforce has employees aged 56 and older. Nineteen percent say that they have zero employees aged 56 and older.
Today’s chaotic business climate likely impedes DEI efforts. Right now, organizations have to deal with:
However, the reasons above aren’t valid excuses to deprioritize diversity initiatives. Change begins by first, changing mindsets.
DEI shouldn’t be a box-ticking exercise or an afterthought. Companies should look at DEI as a cornerstone attribute—one on which to build successful organizations. If there are leaders who don’t make building a diverse workforce a reality, it’s time to bring in leaders who do.
Beyond mindset, companies should be intentional about how they realize their DEI goals. The Built In report spotlights Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as impactful resources to foster inclusivity and community-building. Employees can form friendships, share experiences, host fun events, and discover ways to give back to the community.
While ERGs are a great way to make employees with underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds feel a sense of belonging, the reality is that those employees end up shouldering much of the burden of DEI work.
“Being an ERG leader is another full-time job, and sometimes ERG leaders are giving more attention towards building an inclusive culture than to their actual day job,” said Ivori Johnson, director of DEIB at ChartHop. “One thing that we’re building out is tying ERG leaders’ responsibilities into their performance reviews. We’re also trying to figure out how we can pay ERG leaders for their work.”
For managers, Harvard Business Review suggests:
Perhaps your company has set DEI goals or acknowledged it’s a priority, but intentions may not match reality. Your employees comprise your organization’s DNA and you must ensure that they feel safe, that they belong, and that they’ve been heard. It all starts by giving them ways to share their honest input, experiences, and ideas. Just one voice can transform your workplace into the exemplary organization it’s meant to be.
Do you want a safe, secure way to listen to your employees on DEI issues?
Posted June 8th, 2022
When you ask yourself, “What are common remote employee challenges?” some obvious answers are communication issues, working across different time zones, and technical woes.
But what about problems that don’t get as much attention–like harassment increasing with remote work, or ‘selectively hearing’ the voice of the employee?
Keep scrolling to learn about challenges your remote employees are experiencing that you may not have considered before.
When you swap in-person meetings for Zoom conferences and desk chatter for Slack, there are fewer boundaries, more opportunities to disguise oneself, and greater susceptibility to harassment.
The EEOC defines harassment as: “Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (age 40 plus), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).”
FastCompany reported some alarming statistics about the uptick in harassment since the pandemic alone:
“Since the start of the pandemic, employees have felt as if online environments are the Wild Wild West, and the usual rules don’t apply,” said Jennifer Brown, DEI expert, to the New York Times. “…HR in most workplaces still has not caught up to what virtual forms of misconduct and harassment look and feel like, and there’s a lack of policies and procedures around what is acceptable.”
Organizations must develop standards for unacceptable remote communication on channels like instant messaging, video conferencing, email, etc. A critical part of curbing this behavior is to host discussions and training to show employees you’re holding them accountable and help those who’ve been the target of unwelcome virtual conduct.
According to SHRM, nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work in the pandemic say they now work on weekends. Forty-five percent say they work more hours during the week than they did pre-pandemic, and working parents were more likely to work on weekends than childless employees.
“While remote work affords employees more flexibility, it makes disconnecting extremely difficult,” said Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half. “Many people feel pressure to keep up with rising workloads and are putting in long hours to support the business and customer needs.”
Employees may also feel like their managers take advantage of the lack of commute and travel to assign more work. Being overworked may not only cause employees to seek greener pastures with other employers—it may lead to long-term health problems.
“The pandemic has pushed companies to prioritize employee experience,” said McDonald. “Savvy employers are making lasting changes to support their staff’s needs and well-being, such as providing greater autonomy and flexibility.”
Remote work adds a new layer to company culture and employee engagement. Nearly half of employees say their company doesn’t have an established feedback loop, according to research from SpiralMethod, an executive coaching company.
Transparency is also a common issue. Three-fourths of employees say that more transparency would boost their morale and improve their company’s success.
While employees value transparency and feedback, there is clearly a disconnect for most organizations to realize those principles. Leaders also must recognize that even though they may receive employee feedback, it may not be honest.
“In many cases, management is hearing what they want to hear,” says Leslie Jones, SpiralMethod founder. “If you’re not listening to the growing voice of your employees, you’re missing an enormous opportunity to cement your company culture in trust —and they will know it. There’s so much you can learn from your teams if you really listen with an authentic concern to hearing them.”
The remote work era has transformed business culture. Workplace principles are constantly evolving. Leaders must be aware that just because their employees haven’t directly complained doesn’t mean they’re not struggling.
Organizations need to provide ways for remote employees to give authentic feedback. Even though they’re not physically present in an office, you should still make sure they’re heard.
Do you want a way to capture candid, remote employee feedback? We’re here to help.
Posted May 27th, 2022
In 2021, employee engagement rates were the lowest they’ve been in a decade. According to Gallup, 34% reported that they were engaged in their work and workplace. The factors that Gallup used to gauge employee engagement were how employees felt about their employer’s clarity of expectations, development opportunities, and opinions counting at work.
“If you are driving a racecar, you don’t wait until you blow a tire to realize it’s time to make a change; you have to be proactive and have measures in place to address problems before they become critical issues. Employee feedback, especially open-ended responses to survey questions, has been neglected for years. Still, it is the single best source for understanding not only your employees’ needs but their expectations. Listening to their feedback and acting on it is key to engaging and retaining them.”Forbes
It’s common for employees to be on the receiving end of feedback, but they also need opportunities to give it. The problem is that it’s easy for feedback discussions to devolve into grousing sessions.
Here are some tips to guide your employees to give honest and effective anonymous feedback.
Imagine that an HR executive is reading your suggestions, hoping they’d be helpful in enhancing a new program or boosting your company culture. It won’t be helpful if you use feedback opportunities to vent. Think about how you receive feedback at work, whether it’s from a manager or another department. You’d likely want the feedback to be objective and practical, not a barrage of criticism or complaints.
Calling your manager hateful names or criticizing your coworkers when you submit the feedback will probably mean readers won’t take your suggestion as seriously as they should. If you’re enduring a personal complication like a coworker disagreement, bullying, or a violation of your employee rights, it’s best to go directly to HR.
The reader shouldn’t have to wade through your words to extract the takeaway. Consider adding bullets or data points to consolidate your thoughts or back up any points.
Organizations appreciate resourceful employees. “[Resourcefulness is] a rare quality to find,” says Tarek Pertew, Co-Founder of Uncubed, to The Muse. “Folks who can work through obstacles creatively are my favorite…I look to assign someone who is capable of digging his or her heels in and independently creating solutions.”
Seventy-four percent of employees say they’d feel more comfortable giving feedback about their company and culture if the feedback was truly anonymous, says a Forbes report.
Keeping feedback anonymous will:
Yet employees often fear that their anonymous feedback will be read and used against them, potentially leading to job loss.
As an employee, you may want to verify that the feedback mechanism you’re using is truly anonymous. Leaders should explain how their suggestions are anonymized to protect the integrity of employee participation. Then submit your honest, constructive feedback.
Leaders need to thoughtfully consider the feedback they receive, view it objectively, and then act on it. After all, feedback is ineffective if it remains unused. Employees should realize their voice is powerful. Two minutes taken to offer insight could lead to a new initiative launching or drawing attention to an overlooked issue. Whether you’re a leader or an individual contributor, your perspectives and contributions are instrumental to advancing a company and shaping its culture.
Are you looking for a way to collect and analyze anonymous feedback?
Posted May 18th, 2022
Leaders might assume that because their employees aren’t complaining, they must be content. They may actually be struggling or want to suggest something but are too afraid to speak up.
Why are employees keeping quiet? Fear of job loss, reputational damage, and organizational ineffectualness are just some explanations.
This post discusses issues employees keep mum on, from taking mental health days to voicing new ideas. We also include recent data points on what’s concerning employees and why they don’t verbalize them.
Sixty-two percent of employees worry their boss will judge them for taking mental health days, according to Forbes. The pandemic shined a spotlight on nurturing mental health, both in and out of the workplace. Yet:
Multiple organizations are gradually instituting time-off periods for mental health—from Cisco to Starbucks to Google. As a whole, though, there’s still a long way to go for companies to provide relevant resources and adequate time off for employees to take care of themselves.
Four in ten LGBTQ employees say they aren’t fully out at work, says CBS News and Glassdoor. The fact that more than 50 percent of LGBTQ workers say that they’ve experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ comments from coworkers is likely a huge driving factor.
Half of those surveyed said their fears about expressing their identity were:
However, if employers let their employees bring their full selves to work, employees would be much happier and more engaged.
In 2022, more than 75 percent of employees report they’re frustrated with their manager, says a new study from Real Estate Witch. The biggest manager-related aggravations were:
Additionally, one in five workers (20%) say their managers negatively affect their confidence and self-esteem during performance reviews.
One strategy to improve your happiness with your manager is to bring up one constructive suggestion and solution at a time, de-personalizing it as much as possible. For example, if they’re reluctant to let you work from home or use a hybrid style, speak with them about how much more productive you are without a daily commute. Suggest a trial period and demonstrate your effectiveness during that time.
Think more open discussions about mental health and discrimination have mitigated workplace bullying? Not exactly. Remote work may have made it easier for colleagues to harass their comments.
Now that remote and hybrid work is omnipresent, organizations need to develop policies and plans specifically for curtailing virtual bullying and harassment.
While companies claim they encourage innovation, employees don’t feel like they can voice new ideas. Why? According to the UNC Social Research Lab:
Cognitive diversity is what will propel organizations. Everyone That starts with creating a culture of feedback that encourages employees to bring new ideas to the table.
Of course, it’s easy to tell employees to suggest new ideas and not as easy to make sure they’re set into motion. Devise a system or strategy to nurture ideas and make them actionable. Anonomyizing suggestions will assuage fears about confidentiality and make employees feel comfortable submitting new ideas.
Your employees are the heartbeat of your organization. If they’re afraid or discouraged to speak up about their concerns, they’ll find another organization where they can. Organizations need to find ways to encourage employee feedback and engagement and use it to advance the organization.
Use technology to help you. The importance of collecting anonymous employee feedback is what drove us to create Incogneato, a secure, anonymous online suggestion box.
Want more details? Reach out to one of us here.
Posted September 28th, 2021
Working remotely isn’t new. The Basecamp folks wrote a book about it in 2013, but even before that many were already working away from a central office. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were moving to a workforce that was distributed across the country or even the world. Some of the reasons include access to additional talent, reducing labor costs, and providing freedom for employees to work where they choose.
Why might you want to embrace a distributed workforce? Matt Mullenweg of Automatic (WordPress) lays out out a few reasons in this short video:
So yes, distributed work is here to stay whether or not your company embraces it or struggles with it. At Incogneato we have decades of experience working on remote teams and during that time, we’ve collected some tips and tricks to share with you. There are many ways to embrace a remote workforce but we think these five will be the most impactful.
Many companies are going to an unlimited (or more accurately non-tracked) vacation policy. Rather than limiting how much time employees can take off, they trust employees to take however much time they want while considering their tasks and responsibilities. This sort of policy eliminates the need for time-consuming tracking and accrual practices and sets the stage for a relationship built upon trust.
Likewise, remote work policies should be trust-based. Trust-building starts in the recruiting and hiring stage and continues indefinitely. Interviewers and hiring managers should stress what will be expected of new hires and candidates should be selected based upon self-direction and maturity.
Managers should be hesitant to micromanage employees, and trust that they will accomplish what was jointly agreed to. Communication should be honest and transparent and you should make time to get to know each other.
Making time to be together: If possible you should establish “together hours” where 50+% of the team is expected to be online and working together. According to Harvard Business Review “teams had on average 7+ hours in the workday during which more than half the team was consistently online. Those hours are also when you should schedule business processes that benefit from having greater team overlap—as well as making and communicating decisions that affect the entire group.”
But regular check-ins between managers and direct reports, standing meetings with cross-functional project teams, and time for social interactions with subjects that fall outside of work topics and duties should be prioritized.
Even if your workforce is mostly remote, it can be extremely valuable to also occasionally come together physically. Planning one or two annual meetings where everyone travels to a single location to accomplish business and social objectives will be important for effective distributed teams.
Don’t skimp here. The productivity of your remote employees (and thus your company) depends upon having the right tools in place. These tools consist of both software and hardware and can often be facilitated by listing preferred solutions and required applications and by providing a stipend for your remote workforce to use to get set up with them.
Let’s start on the hardware side. A home office setup should consist of a decent camera, a good microphone/speaker combo, and (crucially) a strong internet connection. Of course, you can go crazy with this sort of thing as Mullengweg might suggest but you need not spend that much on a setup (though the results are amazing). Here’s a baseline list of specs (and a few recommendations) for which you should look:
Desk (chair optional) – Let’s start with the basics. You should strive for good ergonomics and health wherever you set up your office. Desks that you stand at are increasingly popular due to the health benefits of avoiding long periods of sitting. The popularity of standings desks is evident in the number of companies now offering them. You can find quality choices from Uplift, Fully, and Autonomous. If you like your current desk but want to stand from time to time you can also purchase a standing desk converter. Don’t forget a pair of nice comfy pair of “house shoes” and a cushioned mat!
If you must sit (but you are willing to try a standing desk), you can opt for a tall stool, a hydraulic chair, whatever this is, or even a skateboard like thingy. For those who know they are going to sit for long stretches, splurging on a nice chair is a must and should be at least subsidized by employers.
Monitor – Your existing monitor is likely fine, however if you are spending more time at home, upgrading what you are looking at for hours each day can be a welcome improvement. Start by determining the size monitor you want/need. Focus in on LED monitors as those generally represent the best blend of price and features today. For work, you’ll want to look at 4k monitors which tend to come with refresh rates of 60 Hz. Then look for IPS displays with either FreeSync or G-Sync. Lastly, you can determine if you want features like a USB hub built in (which helps manage all those cables) and what types of adjustments you need for height—or if you want to mount it on a a onitor arm, look for one with VESA compatibility. This ProArt Display from ASUS would be a good choice or form something a bit larger check out this 32” Dell monitor for a bit more space.
Camera – These can be pretty simple (and inexpensive). You don’t need 4k. 1080p will do just fine. In fact, many monitors and laptops already have a camera built in. Your employees may want to utilize a camera (or accessory) that can be closed physically to ensure it isn’t on when they don’t expect it to be. In most cases, this is your camera.
Microphone/Speaker – If you don’t want to spend a lot on a standalone microphone, you can avoid the dreaded echo effect by making sure your microphone and speaker are handled by a single device. You can use the mic and speakers that are equipped on your laptop, but for an upgraded experience you could try something like this or this.
As for software, this will relate closely to the software your team already uses and is familiar with and will tend to fall into one of the following categories: Chat, File Sharing, Project Management, Video Conferencing. Sometimes, many of these can be accommodated by one solution. For example, Google Workspace (formerly gSuite) or Microsoft 365 both provide file sharing, email, calendaring, docs and spreadsheets, chat, and video conferencing solutions.
Some of the individual tools that are garnering the most attention (and usage) in these categories are:
File Sharing: Dropbox
Project Management: Monday
Video Conferencing: No surprise here, Zoom
With all these tools however comes greater opportunity to disrupt the normal flow of your workday. Now everyone will have many ways to reach out to someone. Email, Chat, Video Conferencing, and maybe even phone calls we guess.
Each is used for a different purpose, and you should orient your staff on what patterns and practices are desired in your organization. Here’s a framework you might decide to use from the authors of Remote, the Basecamp team with some minor edits, mostly for emphasis:
Chat: Quick questions and messages. We use Slack and chat throughout the day. Slack allows for setup of group channels around a particular topic. We find the old axiom, “If you have a question, someone else probably has the same question,” to be true, so for general clarification, we always have people default to the group channel so everyone benefits from the answer.
Email: Non-urgent communication and project delivery. Email is appropriate for longer-term communication around a particular topic. We tell our team to err on the side of brevity with email. Since so many people use their phone for email, we want to send them quick messages that they will easily be able to digest and respond to on the go.
Phone: We make phone calls from inside Slack and use a VoIP phone system. Phone calls are used for clarification when chat won’t do, and brainstorming or troubleshooting a particular project or issue.
Regular (Video) Meetings: Each of our teams has a weekly meeting and each individual has a weekly one-on-one with their manager. Having these standing meetings helps us cut down on the clutter and one-off questions, since the team knows they will get a chance to address any issues during their weekly chat. It also gives everyone regular human interaction, and a chance to come up for air, joke around, present ideas and celebrate wins together.
Matt Mullenweg of Automatic also suggests that as much communication as possible be online—where it is documented so that everyone can understand the why of decisions that were made. The conversations and messages that led to a decision are all there for future review.
Last year we wrote about the importance of collecting feedback from remote workers. That still holds true, maybe even more so today. And although we admit to bias, we still think that collecting anonymous feedback offers advantages to other methods. You can set up a free demo of an Incogeato suggestion box in under 10 seconds.
Posted March 24th, 2020
The world is now several months into the COVID-19 pandemic and many local, state, and national governments are requiring companies to shut their doors and allow employees to work from home. Remote work can be a challenge for some, but it does offer one key benefit: a quiet time away from colleagues to reflect upon work life.
We are biologically attuned to the emotions of those around us. Removing our coworkers from the situation opens up our ability to convey our thoughts honestly without considering how others will immediately react. In other words, employees working from home are in a safe place now, removed from ordinary work-life and it is much easier to take a step back and approach their feedback holistically.
Many remote employees have more time on their hands. With the average American commute consuming almost an hour each day and a likely dip in workload, some employees have several idle hours each day to reflect upon their work or craft new ideas. Forward-thinking organizations should encourage them to submit new ideas or spend some time developing out previous ideas they had been forced to back-burner.
Inevitably, some employees will use their downtime to begin searching for a new job. This underscores the need for anonymous feedback as a retention strategy. Research shows that employees are more candid when their personal anonymity is guaranteed. Giving employees a safe, anonymous tool to address their grievances can ultimately keep them around.
Incogneato is a safe, anonymous employee feedback tool that is also significantly less expensive than other options. We believe that all organizations should be able to collect anonymous feedback without having to pay hefty monthly fees. This especially rings true now as organizations are trying to cut costs to survive. Incogneato is free for the first 30 days and no credit card is required until you subscribe to a plan.
The months ahead will be trying times for many organizations. We hope your business weathers the storm and comes out stronger and that your employees stay safe during this challenging period.
For additional reading, we recommend the following: