Nurturing an Inclusive Workplace

Your employees are your greatest resource. Your biggest asset. Your power. Your drive. Your agility and foundation! You’ve created a great team–you’re sure of it. But when was the last time you checked to make sure you’ve got the diversity of talent your company needs? 

Are you sure you have everything you need in your proverbial toolbox? Having one full of just hammers is going to be useless unless you’ve got nails. And screws, and levels, and safety glasses, and saws, and…you get it. When you hire a bunch of people with the same skills, the same backgrounds, and the same experiences, you’re selling yourself short and weakening your potential. The more diversity of thought, experiences, strengths you have on your team, the more successful your business will be.   

Ensure you’re putting an emphasis on protecting and nurturing diversity within your workplace by consistently and objectively assessing where your company is falling short and where it’s excelling. The following are some key areas of operations to consider.   

Inclusive language 

Every business has a voice. It comes across in every communication aspect of your company, from external marketing to internal communications. The atmosphere of your business to your employee handbooks, internal surveys, data collection, and emails are all opportunities for communication. Consider how you use language that can apply to the broadest range of people. Some example to consider: 

  • Disabled vs. person with disabilities  
  • Deaf vs. hearing impaired 
  • Spouse vs. wife/husband
  • Salesman vs. salesperson 

Learning to identify language differences can feel subtle and takes practice. In the past, you may have unknowingly assumed gender, forced someone to choose an incorrect personal identification, or otherwise left out or incorrectly referenced a marginalized group of people. Don’t dwell on the past, look ahead, and persistently ask yourselves and your team how you can improve.


Identify areas where you can improve your company’s accessibility to people experiencing different forms of disability.  

  • How accessible is your workplace to people using wheelchairs?  
  • Is your office equipment (printers, copy machines) accessible from a seated position? 
  • Do you offer accessible employee desk space? 
  • Does your office space have ramps and elevators? 
  • Does your company offer alternatives to phone calls for people with hearing impairments? 
  • Do the signs in your office have brail and raised lettering? 

To make working at your company more accessible, consider offering remote working positions. You may be surprised that remote employees tend to be more productive and engaged than those working from an office.  Whatever you do to improve accessibility to your office, know that solutions are evolving and developing, so what might have been unattainable five years ago may be possible for your company now.  


Chances are, your company has a website and social media presence. Take a look at what demographic your online presence represents. Do all your photos depict the same type of person? Are the only photos representing people with disabilities directly related to content about disabilities? That’s problematic in itself.  

The key is to choose photos and language that speak to the broadest range of people and not just to who you might think your customer is. Use your messaging to help build connection and understanding, reaching a greater variety of people and giving a voice and representation to traditionally marginalized groups.  

The more people your brand speaks to, the more comprehensive the range of prospective job candidates and customers you’ll attract. Seeing is believing. The more diversity you use in representations of customers, employees, and leadership, the easier it will be for people to see themselves in those roles. 

Hiring process  

Creating an unbiased hiring process can be a difficult task. Everyone’s got biases, and it’s a challenge to remove it from any process where humans have to choose other humans. So how do you go about minimizing bias from your hiring process? There’s a crazy amount of information on this topic, but here are four of the most common points.  

  1. Educate your hiring managers about bias. Give them opportunities to learn how to identify their own and other’s prejudices.  
  2. Review your job description. Consider how you can eliminate adjectives that are associated with one gender, ethnicity, or body type.   
  3. Standardize, standardize, standardize! Make sure you’re approaching each interview with the same set of questions and expectations.  
  4. Consider using blind recruitment strategies. Try removing identifying characteristics from the hiring process such as names, age, education, etc.  
  5. Internal assessment. Constantly ask questions to stay on top of your game.  
  • Are my employees trained to identify their own biases? 
  • Do we require qualifications that might not be necessary? 
  • Is our ideal candidate defined? If so, what are the qualities that might be based on bias? 

Leading with inclusivity is a constant learning process and not a one-and-done check on your to-do list. Prioritizing diversity within your hiring process takes regular evaluation and improvement.  


Take a look at your company: how many people in leadership positions are the same sex and ethnicity? Hiring and promoting based on sex or ethnicity is obviously unethical. But the demographics of your leadership team could give valuable insight into your promoting and hiring practices. Take pains to make sure that people with the same titles are paid the same amount. Take a critical eye to your company hierarchy.  

Make your moves 

When you’re evaluating where you can improve, the best thing you can do is be honest with yourself and your employees. Understand you can never learn too much. Set an example as a leader who is always willing and devoted to nurturing a diverse and accessible workplace. The better you become at it, the higher the potential of your workforce will become. Your culture will thrive with varying experiences, strengths, and points of view, and your company will follow.  


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Leigh Prather

Giving and Receiving During A Crisis

As COVID-19 continues to strain the world’s resources, there has never been a better time for organizations to lend their support to those in need. Organizations that partake in charitable giving and community efforts have an opportunity to impact more than just those who are receiving the charity, though that in itself is enough to make it worth the effort.  

Whether your employees have seen their jobs change, or watched their family members get laid off or furloughed, or been unable to visit their loved ones and friends, everyone has been affected. There is no shortage of people suffering, which means that no matter how small, every gesture of giving matters.  

Adding value for everyone 

There are plenty of articles breaking down the numbers that demonstrate how corporate giving can positively impact employee engagement and loyalty. Still, the real value is clearly seen with common sense.  

People want to be a part of something important. They want to feel like they’re giving back and making a difference. It’s easy to see value in giving to those in need. When your organization offers ways for its employees to give back, you are demonstrating your values and providing an opportunity for your internal community to connect with them in an authentic way. Plus, giving simply makes people happier.   

Although obvious, it’s also critical to mention that the world needs all the help it can get right now. This isn’t just about your employees or your company values. It’s about doing what you can, when you can, because you should.    

Purpose, on purpose 

When we become an active participant in finding a solution, we gain a sense of control. This is true across the board for problems big and small.  

In a time when so much of our daily lives feel threatened, finding purpose and value in your actions can make a huge difference. By providing an opportunity for your employees to engage in becoming part of the solution, you’re giving them that precious sense of control and purpose they’re missing.  

It comes back around 

There is something wonderfully karmic about being a company that gives back. People remember it when they see you stepping up . It allows them to feel connected to your values and recognize your willingness to take action.  

Your company can inspire people! The community that you affect will remember you. You have an opportunity to speak out and encourage others to follow in your footsteps—to become a leader in your community. 

You don’t have to have a bunch of money sitting around to help out. Whether you’re a huge company or a small business, there are endless ways you can make a difference. Take the opportunity to step up and become a source of purpose and value to your employees and your surrounding community. It’s worth it.  


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by kieferpix


When in Doubt, Organize

When things are chaotic, whether at home, or work, or throughout the world, it’s easy to feel like letting things slide. And honestly, sometimes that’s totally fine. When we’re in a position where we have to handle a lot at once (even if it’s just a busy morning of meetings), we have to decide what’s critical and what can be put aside for another time. Sometimes there’s no way around it.  

You simply can’t do everything all of the time. Though unfortunately, it’s human nature for us to try anyway. And what happens when we try to accomplish everything at once while we’re also navigating a challenging time? 

  • Regular, simple tasks start to feel un-doable 
  • We become more and more frazzled and stressed 
  • We start to beat ourselves up for not functioning like normal 
  • Our quality of work drops 
  • Our exhaustion rises 
  • We can’t keep track of things 
  • Our team at work (or home) begin to feel the effects of our state 
  • No one is happy 

While it’s true there will always be times when you have to put aside certain things to continue to function well, there is one thing that isn’t dispensable: organization.  

It’s a lifesaver 

Cities that are built by flood zones have canals constructed into them to drain the excess water away from the population. When life is chaotic, doing what you can to get yourself organized will work like those canalshelping remove the chaos from your life. While a flood can still damage a city even with canals, the damage would be exponentially worse if the water had nowhere to go. It’s the same with chaos.  

If you are in a position where you have to prioritize your duties and put certain things aside, you’ve got to get yourself organized enough to see everything clearly. This is true on the individual level up through an entire organization.  

Think about how your company, or your boss, or just you, handled the chaos of adjusting to stay at home orders and changing customer priorities. Was it handled smoothly? Are you still struggling to communicate with your team or your clients? Are there entire parts of your company you’ve put on hold (your marketing, for instance?). Do you have a constant feeling that you’re forgetting something?  

Don’t cut corners 

In a turbulent time, often our first instinct is to attack whatever is right in front of us. But without first sitting down and evaluating all the components, our efforts are more likely to be ineffective, inefficient, and draining.  

If you want clean results, then start with a clean slate.  

  • Evaluate all of your duties  
  • Take stock of the immediate damage, challenge, or roadblocks 
  • Look ahead to what might be affected later down the road 
  • Break it down into tiers of importance 
  • Clarify goals and their corresponding tasks  

It’s up to you 

No one can organize your life for you. It takes consistent effort for organizations and individuals alike. It’s incredible how much a little organization can change your ability to navigate chaos and challenges. The simple act of writing out a to-do list and getting your tasks organized each morning can make or break the productivity (and experience) of your day. The same goes for getting your team and your organization on the same page with clarified goals, responsibilities, and tasks.  

If you’re struggling to get things done, feeling the pressure of a hectic and demanding schedule, and frustrated by a lack of productivity, ask yourself if you’ve spent the time to get organized. If you haven’t, then it’s your responsibility to do so. Whether or not you’re struggling to deal with the chaos of the pandemic, or just the usual chaos of your life, getting organized may be the greatest gift you can give yourself. Either way, it’s up to you.  


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by New Africa

Fostering Emotional Wellness for Your Remote Workforce

Whether you’re new to managing remote employees, or you’re an old hand at it, understanding how to meet the individual needs of newly remote workers is central to ensuring your team is functioning successfully. Now more than ever, it’s critical that employers take extra steps to help their employees navigate the fear and uncertainty posed by COVID-19.  

With many businesses just becoming acquainted with the ins and outs of remote work, its too easy for business owners to get wrapped up in smoothing out the wrinkles in functionality and forget that their workers are facing an exceptionally challenging time.  

Chances are, your company and employees are facing some of these challenges yourselves. It’s important to remember that it’s going to be your employees who get your company through this. By supporting your employees, you’re supporting the very foundation your business sits on. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.  

Start with care 

It’s easy to laugh it off, or insist that you don’t have time, but first things first: take care of yourself! If the leaders of your company are tired, stressed out, and suffering, your teams are going to feel it.  

Connect with your leadership team often and check in with them repeatedly. You may have to ask how they are doing more than once. Their first instinct may be to brush off their anxiety, doubt, or frustration. But if you follow up your first “How are you?” with “So how are you, really?” you may get a very different answer. The same goes for the teams they manage. 

These conversations may seem daunting but go into them recognizing you don’t have to have solutions to their feelings. Often just a listening ear or some words of encouragement is all they need to feel relief from their stress.   

Listening to these answers can be draining, too. If you checked in with five people today and four of them expressed anxiety and doubt to which you had to respond, it can quickly burn you out. So have a way to take care of yourself as well. Meditation, exercise, or peer discussion groups can be a great release for your own built-up anxiety and stress.   

Remote work is touted as a great solution that can raise productivity and employee engagement. Still, for some employees, it’s exceptionally challenging, and to most people who are new to working remotely, it takes time to adjust. The stress of navigating a new working situation compounded with the anxiety of dealing with the pandemic may be putting employees in a particularly challenging position.  

Acknowledging this is the first step to supporting your employees. Working remotely can cause feelings of isolation, so ensuring they don’t feel alone in their struggle or experience is a vital part of helping them navigate the change.  

Connect, connect, connect 

Connecting through check-ins and one-on-one meetings in an employee-manager relationship is a great place to start. If you usually have monthly check-ins, consider bumping it up to a weekly occurrence.  

Manager-to-employee check-ins are essential, but making sure your teams are connecting as well is also critical to helping them combat feelings of isolation and encouraging team building and engagement.   

  • Consider setting up weekly group happy hours where the only thing on the agenda is connecting with peers and catching up. Keep them casual and encourage people to eat and drink. Bring your employees together by sharing funny stories from the previous week and celebrating successes.  
  • Be a source of reliable information for your employees to depend on. At the beginning or end of each week, provide them with local resources and information that may help them address personal challenges brought on by the virus.  
  • If your teams are substantial, consider setting up a buddy system, or support groups of up to three employees. Encourage them to meet with each other throughout the week. Encourage them to work on challenges together and to keep leadership informed of any particular needs that arise.  

Take the lead 

Remember, your workforce is a living, breathing animal. It needs connection, encouragement, and time to care for itself. If you want to ensure your team is prioritizing these needs, you must lead by example. If your productivity or work quality drops, respond with care and understanding.  

A steady hand and even voice now will mean a more durable and healthier workforce later. The whole world is in this together, and we must be patient as we find solutions to the challenges we face.  


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by luckyguy123

5 Ways to Celebrate Your Employees

You love your employees. You understand they are the life-blood of your company, ensuring your growth, stability, and success. But life at the office can be demanding, and finding time to make your employees feel acknowledged and celebrated can be difficult.

But when employees do feel recognized, they’re more likely to be engaged and more productive. It’s common sense. When someone feels the work they do is valued and important, they’re more likely to put real passion and enthusiasm behind their efforts. In fact, having happy employees can raise business productivity by over 30%!

Since you’re busy running your business and trying to get ahead of the game, we did the work for you and came up with five great ways you can show your employees how much you value them. 

1. Say thank you. Like, actually say it

We know, this seems absolutely outlandish, right?! I mean, who would ever say thank you for doing what’s expected? But really. It’s way too common for managers and team members to accept work from their peers and team without any acknowledgment of their hard work.

We know that it’s their job and they’re doing what’s expected of them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thank and recognize them for a job well done. It can be as simple as an email response. Here are a few examples:

  • Wow, this is great work! So happy you’re a part of our team.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back! I know how much effort this must have taken, and it really paid off. Thank you!
  • Brilliant work! You really blew this one out of the water!

Think back to the last time you thanked or complimented an employee for doing something—even if it’s part of their job description. You can do this every day. When you receive work that a team member completed, say thank you. Celebrate their hard work. It goes a long way to making someone feel valued.

2. Give them the afternoon off

Did your team accomplish a big project? Or navigate a particularly challenging week? Sometimes, a little surprise time off can be the best gift. Studies show that working fewer hours can actually increase productivity. Plus, your employees will thank you for the extra time they’ll have to care for themselves, deal with personal needs, and have fun. It’s a sure-fire way to give your employees the extra boost they need after a particularly demanding time at work.

3. Take them out

Take your team out on a field trip or out to lunch or dinner. Celebrate with time together outside of work, building community and team camaraderie. And who doesn’t love a free meal?

4. Give a little public recognition

Did one of your employees or teams reach or exceed a company goal? Broker an important deal? Or navigate a challenging situation? Whatever it is, give them some public love. You can send out a company-wide email highlighting their achievements, post a congratulations message on your company LinkedIn, or have an office get-together in recognition. Inviting the rest of team to join in on the celebration of an employee’s success is a great way to nurture a healthy company culture and encourage others to step up their game.

5. Write it down

Have you ever received a hand-written letter from someone? It’s one of the most personal ways to make someone feel appreciated. If you want to recognize a hard-working employee, or celebrate someone’s five-year anniversary with your company, write them a hand-written note letting them know how much you value and appreciate their contributions.

You could even include a restaurant gift card so they can go out and celebrate with someone they care about. Or give them a bonus they can spend how they want. A personal touch goes a long way in making someone feel genuinely appreciated.

Whatever it is you do to show your appreciation, make sure you’re always looking for ways to celebrate your employees. They work hard for you, and it’s critical to remember and appreciate it. The more you value them, the more they’ll value you, and see the value in their own work.

Plus, who doesn’t want to work in a company of people who appreciate what they’re doing, feel recognized by their team and leadership, and celebrate each other?! No one, that’s who.


Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by