Accessibility and Belonging: The Keys to Employee Retention
Workspan Daily
May 09, 2023
Key Takeaways

  • Create an environment of support. An accessible workplace that provides resources and support to accommodate employee needs can reduce stress and improve work-life balance, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention. 
  • Educate, educate, educate. Employers can overcome common barriers to accessibility and belonging by educating themselves and their employees. 
  • It starts with leadership. Implementing accessibility and belonging practices requires leadership buy-in, effective communication, and training.  
  • A mindset of continuous improvement. Employers should measure the impact of accessible and belonging practices through employee surveys, performance metrics and feedback from managers and other stakeholders, and continuously improve their programs and policies based on data-driven decisions. 

Employee retention is essential to the success of any organization, as high turnover rates can be costly and disruptive to productivity and morale. However, many employers overlook two critical factors that contribute to employee retention: accessibility and belonging.  

The two variables are key to an employee retention strategy because they contribute to employee satisfaction and engagement. Employees feel empowered and valued when they have access to the resources and support they need to do their jobs effectively. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.  

Similarly, when employees feel like they belong in the workplace, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. They feel like they are part of a team and that their contributions are valued, which leads to a sense of fulfillment and motivation to continue working for the organization. 

In today's competitive job market, employees have a variety of options to choose from, and organizations must create a workplace culture that values and prioritizes employee needs. By providing employees with access to the resources and support they need, organizations can create a positive work environment that fosters engagement and productivity.  

Improve Business Performance  

In an accessible workplace, employees are provided with the resources to better accommodate their needs. Flexible work arrangements, onsite childcare, or wellness programs can contribute to job satisfaction and retention by reducing stress and improving work-life balance. And access includes accommodations for employees with disabilities, such as assistive technology and modified work schedule. 

Belonging is another critical factor in employee retention. Employers can foster a sense of belonging by providing opportunities for team building and collaboration, recognizing employees for their contributions, and creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.  

Combining accessibility and belonging practices, such as offering diverse meeting and communications options to employees, can further improve retention rates. A report conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management found employers that foster a culture of belonging saw: 

  • 50% lower turnover risk 
  • 75% fewer sick days were used 
  • 56% increase in job performance 

Overcome Common Barriers to Accessibility and Belonging 

Despite their benefits, many employers struggle to effectively implement these practices. Common barriers to accessibility may include a lack of resources or awareness, resistance to change or legal and regulatory requirements.  

Similarly, common barriers to belonging may include a lack of: diversity and inclusion, opportunities for collaboration and teamwork and recognition for employee contributions. 

To overcome these barriers, employers can take a proactive approach by educating themselves and their employees about the benefits of accessibility and belonging and implementing programs and policies that promote these practices. Some strategies that employers can use to overcome these barriers include: 

  • Conducting a needs assessment to identify accessibility barriers and opportunities for improvement. 
  • Providing training and support to managers and employees on accessibility and belonging practices. 
  • Ensuring that hiring and promotion processes are inclusive and equitable. 
  • Providing opportunities for employee feedback and recognition. 
  • Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture that celebrates differences and encourages collaboration and teamwork. 

How to Implement Accessibility and Belonging Practices 

Implementing these practices requires leadership buy-in and effective communication and training. Leaders must demonstrate their commitment to accessibility and belonging by providing necessary resources and support and by modeling the desired behavior.  

Effective communication and training on these practices are essential to fostering an environment where employees and managers feel empowered to contribute to this shared environment.  

Organizations will find that there are countless ways to approach their accessibility and belonging practices. Below are a few examples that could offer a starting point:  

  • Provide accommodations for employees with disabilities, such as assistive technology, ergonomic chairs and modified work schedules. 
  • Ensure physical accessibility, such as wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms and wide doorways. 
  • Offer training to managers and employees on disability etiquette and how to be more inclusive and supportive of colleagues with disabilities. 
  • Offer training to managers on personal accessibility and how to be a continued resource for their people. 
  • Provide opportunities for team building and collaboration, such as team outings or company events. 
  • Recognize and reward employees for their contributions and achievements. 
  • Create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture by fostering a sense of belonging for all employees regardless of their background, such as implementing diversity and inclusion training, forming employee resource groups, or having a diversity and inclusion committee. 

Measure the Results  

Finally, it is essential to measure the impact of these practices to ensure that they are effective and to identify opportunities for improvement. Employers can use a variety of methods to measure impact, including employee surveys, performance metrics, and feedback from managers and other stakeholders.  

By measuring the impact of accessible and belonging practices, employers can make data-driven decisions and continuously improve their programs and policies. 

Accessibility and belonging are critical factors in employee retention. Employers that prioritize these practices create a positive workplace culture that fosters engagement and productivity, and are more likely to retain top talent.  

By overcoming common barriers to accessibility and belonging, implementing effective programs and policies, and measuring the impact of these practices, employers can create a workplace that empowers and values its employees.  

Editor’s Note: Additional Content 

For more information and resources related to this article see the pages below, which offer quick access to all WorldatWork content on these topics: 

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