Acceptance can be key to a positive working environment. But how can you, as a business owner, make your workers feel accepted at work? And is it worth your time and energy to do so? Creating an accepting workplace environment can feel like a poor investment, but in fact, making your workers feel welcomed and accepted can lead to increased productivity, reduced turnover, and a better working environment for everyone.

Creating an Accepting Workplace Environment Helps Your Bottom Line

Your employers are each individuals, with their own strengths, struggles, and personalities. But all those individual personalities don’t necessarily mesh well in a one-size-fits-all workplace. Creating an accepting workplace environment can improve your employees’ productivity and commitment to your company. When an employee feels accepted at work, they will be:

  • More willing to take risks
  • Offer constructive criticism
  • Increase their confidence
  • Build stronger relationships with coworkers
  • More receptive to constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement
  • Less likely to leave the company

All these tendencies will translate into improved collaboration, cooperation, and productivity in the workplace. It also translates into reduced turnover among your staff. That means that, while creating an accepting workplace environment takes work and dedication, it will ultimately help your bottom line.

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What Does an Accepting Workplace Environment Look Like?

Creating an accepting workplace environment means fostering a mindset of tolerance of one another. Acceptance means acknowledging and welcoming their:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Beliefs
  • Cultural values
  • Characteristics
  • Personality
  • Background
  • Experiences

An accepting workplace environment offers space to discuss your employees’ different experiences and perspectives. It encourages coworkers to listen to each other and their priorities and values.

How Does Acceptance Foster an Inclusive Environment?

If your company has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) commitment, you may be focused more on creating an inclusive environment than an accepting one. However, these two ideas work together. Remember that acceptance helps your employees feel comfortable expressing their race, gender, religion, and other protected characteristics. But inclusion means more than simply making a “diversity hire” and allowing them to make their own way in the workplace.

Acceptance goes further. It acknowledges that DEI prioritizes welcoming people of different experiences into the workplace, and taking full advantage of their perspectives. To do this, workers of all backgrounds, but especially minorities, must feel accepted and comfortable talking about their differences. Thus, creating an accepting workplace environment can make you and your employees more receptive to coworkers’ differences, and the insights that come with them.

How to Create an Accepting Workplace Environment?

Creating an accepting workplace environment isn’t easy – no change to workplace culture is. It generally must come from the top. As a business owner you will need to model acceptance of your employees and enforce a culture of tolerance, even when you disagree with the ideas your employees put forward. To do so, you will need to:

Encourage Employees to Be Authentic at Work

If your employees are expected to behave as though everything is fine all the time, this can cause them to mask their perspectives and needs out of a fear of rejection. You need to encourage authenticity at work, making space for people to make honest statements, even when they are uncomfortable.

Prioritize Respect at All Tiers of Employment

Your employees need to know that they will be treated with respect, regardless of their position or their rank in the company. Respect should be assumed, and enforced, right from the first day of employment. This may take different forms depending of the nature of the position and the formality of the workplace. However, harassment, bullying, or mistreatment should be off limits in all workplace contexts.

Improve Transparency in Decision-Making and Enforcement

In a hostile work environment, employees may assume that your leadership is making decisions for their own reasons, or even based on your own biases. This can create an environment of distrust and reduce your employees’ willingness to be open or feel accepted. To demonstrate that your employees will not be mistreated, you should be transparent about how you reached your decisions, and how rules will be enforced. If your decision-making processes and enforcement expectations are apparent to everyone, it reduces the risk of bias and builds trust.

Appreciate Team Members’ Abilities

A key part of making someone feel accepted is acknowledging their strengths and celebrating their success. Public appreciation of coworkers’ accomplishments can help them to feel like an important part of the company, increasing their commitment to the business. This acceptance can take many forms:

  • Public accolades
  • Awards and acknowledgements of benchmarks met
  • Financial bonuses and raises
  • Increased responsibility
  • Simply saying thank you for good work done

Encourage Employees to Provide Constructive Feedback

The best way to create an accepting workplace environment is to take advantage of your employees’ thoughtfulness, creativity, and intelligence. By making space for your employees to provide constructive feedback and to voice criticism, even of their superiors, you can reap the benefits of their differences and perspectives.

Creating an accepting workplace environment takes work and dedication to respectful and conscientious management of your employees. Often, it is beneficial to work with a business consultant to evaluate your current workplace environment, and to create a strategy to develop, implement, and enforce acceptance. However, the benefits for doing so – in productivity, employee longevity, and commitment to the business’s success – can far outweigh the costs.

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience in creating a healthy workplace environment. Through business consulting and facilitation, David helps businesses and teams improve productivity and team acceptance. Contact us to meet with David to move toward high organizational functioning today.