Acceptance is all about accepting every individual for who they are because we are all different. We look different, act differently, solve problems differently, find different things funny, show our emotions differently, believe in different things, learn differently, and have different aptitudes. Humans are indeed a very diverse group, and it is out of this diversity of skills, interests and capabilities that the most powerful teams, cultures and companies are built.
Globalization, mobility and changes in 21st century society have meant that we have an increasingly diverse workforce, and so it is highly likely that people with differing backgrounds and beliefs will be working together in many organizations. Failure to accept these differences will fracture teams, impede collaboration, stunt creativity and ultimately impact the efficiency of the work being done and the speed of innovation. Also, talented employees may be lost or underutilized because they are not being accepted by their coworkers.
Recent studies have demonstrated that a diverse workforce, for many reasons, is a competitive advantage. Not only do you benefit from different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, but in cultivating a diverse workforce you are drawing from a deeper talent pool and increasing the likelihood that you are hiring the best and brightest candidates. But lack of acceptance in an organization is counterproductive and will be a barrier to reaping the benefits of this diversity. Lack of acceptance means that people are not devoting their full energy to the tasks at hand, that they are distracted by differences and partially focused on avoidance or controlling a situation to their satisfaction.
Gallup found that employees with a best friend at work were:
In fact positive relationships is seen as a major predictor of employee engagement which is turn is a driver of customer engagement at your corporate interface. And when teams have accepting members and are kept in familiar working groups, the following effects are seen. In one study, across 1004 development projects and 11,376 employees, a 50% increase in team familiarity produced a 30% decrease in budget deviations, and 19% fewer defects. (Source: The Hidden Benefits of Keeping Teams Intact; Robert Huckman, Harvard Business School)
So here are 5 simple rules to foster an environment of acceptance in the workplace.
There is a very dense but critical article that contains a very interesting turn. It’s entitled “The relative importance of psychological acceptance and emotional intelligence to workplace well-being”, by Emma Donaldson-Feilder et al, in the British Journal of Guidance & Counselling Vol 32. No.2 May 2004. They examined the relative strengths of predictors such as acceptance, emotional intelligence and job control on outcomes of mental health, physical well-being and job satisfaction.
They found that neither emotional intelligence nor acceptance was associated with job satisfaction. In contrast they found a clear relationship between job control and job satisfaction. However, unexpectedly they found that interventions that increase acceptance were more helpful than those that promoted emotional intelligence, thereby improving occupational mental-health and furthermore, propensity to innovate.
What good news! You already have simple keys to creating acceptance and promoting the well-being of your work colleagues.
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