When Angie moved interstate to be with her partner, she had to quickly find a new job. She loved her role as a frontline health worker and had enjoyed very close relationships with all her former work colleagues. She was confident she would find a placement easily, which she did.
We caught up a couple of months later and I asked her how things were going.
She hesitated before answering and shared that the work was great, but she was finding it difficult to feel part of her new team.
What was happening, was she wasn’t being included in the social events taking place outside work. The first time it happened, she didn’t mind putting it down to being the newbie, and that they didn’t know her yet. When it became more obvious, she was being set up to cover shifts so the others could go out together, it rankled, especially when they would sometimes talk about their weekend plans in front of her.
Being exclusive means being set apart. But this is not about how many pairs of Balenciaga shoes or Louis Vuitton handbags you have, it’s about your level of inclusion.
Inclusion is a fragile beast, often fleeting in nature. One minute you have it, the next it’s gone, and you’re left, excluded.
It’s often not deliberate. Just overlooked.
Has this ever happened to you and if so, what did you do?
Did you choose to make an extra special effort to make yourself seen and included?
Or did you end up sad, wondering why you wanted to accept this new job in the first place?
Feeling excluded causes social pain and can lead to a loss of confidence, and loss of motivation to contribute, cooperate and can even stimulate thoughts of revenge. It makes us feel invisible.
For all the talk about inclusion, we’re not always good at ensuring it happens.
It can happen when the existing group is very tight and it’s hard to break through their protective armour. Here, continuing to show up to be seen and noticed (in a good, not creepy way) can help.
You may be seen as different in some way, and the others aren’t sure whether it’s safe to include you or how to go about it. Again, being proactive on your part can help, but it isn’t always easy.
Proactive inclusion matters because being included has been shown to raise team effectiveness and individual health and happiness. And wouldn’t that be good?
Feeling included allows you to feel respected, accepted and valued for who you are and what you bring to the workplace.
Inclusive leaders understand this is what serves to unlock the existing potential in their employees, raising psychological safety and nurturing a culture of care.
But how do you measure inclusion? It’s hard to pin down but helps to avoid the risk of exclusion and toxic working environments.
Putting the measure on inclusion.
Gartner, the US-based technologic research and consulting firm devised an Inclusion Index based on the seven key elements of inclusion: psychological safety, trust, belonging, diversity, fair treatment and integrating differences.
They provide seven statements for you to rate how much you agree or disagree with them.
- Fair treatment: Employees at my organization who help the organization achieve its strategic objectives are rewarded and recognized fairly.
- Integrating differences: Employees at my organization respect and value each other’s opinions.
- Decision making: Members of my team fairly consider ideas and suggestions offered by other team members.
- Psychological safety: I feel welcome to express my true feelings at work.
- Trust: Communication we receive from the organization is honest and open.
- Belonging: People in my organization care about me.
- Diversity: Managers at my organization are as diverse as the broader workforce.
The greater the level of agreement, the higher the overall rating of inclusion.
The Inclusion Index makes it possible not just to gauge the overall level of inclusion being experienced in a team, but to also highlight areas that may need extra love and attention.
How do you stay inclusive?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase.
If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.