How to Celebrate Your Employees' Diversity

How to Manage Employees

By Matt Alderton

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Employees work hardest when they're happiest — and they're happiest when they can be their "true selves," finds a new study by researchers at Rice University, the University of Houston and George Mason University.

Based on an online survey of 211 working adults, the study concludes that there is a direct connection between workplace satisfaction and employees' comfort with expressing their social identity in the office, as it relates to their race, culture, religion or sexual orientation.

"If you are open to expressing who you are and who you identify with, it leads to positive outcomes," says Juan Madera, assistant professor at the University of Houston and co-author of the study. "If you think your identity is going to get a negative response, you are more likely to avoid discussing it."

According to Madera, there are several things employers can do to cultivate a workplace where employees feel comfortable being themselves. "This includes celebrating cultural events where staffers bring in food or drinks reflective of their culture, as well as encouraging the establishment of affinity groups where those of different social backgrounds can meet informally," writes Incentive Magazine contributor Alex Palmer. "Top companies including Starbucks and Marriott have reported success with this approach."

Says Madera, "It's kind of like college where you have the different clubs you can join for functions, dinners or just as a Facebook group. It might be going bowling or having lunch together once a month, just celebrating an identity in an inclusive way — you don't have to be a part of that group to join in."

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