Employee experience | How can diversity improve employee happiness?

How can diversity improve employee happiness?

By Lord Mark Price, Founder, WorkL for Business

Workplaces used to look very different compared to today. Places of work such as law firms, the military and banks were primarily dominated by white men in the last century.

However today, we’ve clearly made strides in diversifying the workplace. Employers are acutely aware diversity is important. It opens the work environment, it promotes coming together as a team, bringing new direction and even looking at other ways to solve a problem. It can drive sales by increasing a company’s mission and brand, bringing new prospects, leads and increasing satisfaction.

It can create a healthier and more profitable business. But what impact does diversity have on individual employee’s happiness and productivity?

Here at WorkL for Business we have delved deep into our data to analyse how happy different demographics are and what aspects of the workplace need to be improved.

More than 100,000 individuals have taken the workplace survey devised by WorkL. Our tests measure factors such as working environment, relationship with line manager, sense of purpose and career progression.

To better understand diversity, we need to understand the number of factors that define diversity. Gender, age, race, disability and sexual orientation all come to mind. Of course, we could outline many more factors. Throughout an individual's life, experience, education, upbringing, and predispositions all alter who we are.

Let’s first look at diversity in terms of gender. WorkL’s data show that females’ well-being scores are lower than males’ scores, which fall down when answering questions on instilling pride. Females scored higher in instilling pride than males, whereas males feel more empowered than females.

Of course, across sectors there are large differences in gender diversity – healthcare for instance has a large number of women however it is a sector less well paid and focused on caregiver roles. You can get more in depth analysis of the difference between genders in our data we published earlier in the year, available here.

Despite countless academic papers showing that diverse workplaces tend to be happier, our data shows no immediate correlation between industry happiness scores and differences between male and female representation.

In recent years society has begun to understand the importance of sexuality when it comes to diversity. Looking at our data through the lens of sexuality we can see that people who identify as LGBTQ+ are generally less happy at work and score low across all of WorkL’s six steps compared to heterosexuals. This is most apparent in questions relating to wellbeing. Indeed, the LGBTQ+ community scores between 2 and 4% lower on four of our six steps, which is significant. However, they feel happiest about the Reward and Recognition they are given.

It’s important for businesses and organisations to improve on the areas where LGBTQ+ score low, such as information Sharing and Well-Being. There are many practical steps which can be taken to help improve these areas such as improving communication and evaluating stress and anxiety in the workforce.
Taking our data and looking at the happiness of people who are registered with a disability shows overall they are less happy than those without a disability. Reward and Recognition and Empowerment score particularly low for this community.

Indeed, the biggest gap our data drew out is a 5.9% difference in happiness relating to empowerment and reward and recognition, when compared to people who are able bodied. This is a very significant difference. Research suggests that 18% of people in the workforce are registered as disabled therefore it’s important for employers to look at how best to empower and reward their employees who are disabled.

With the recent Black Lives Matter protests there’s been a renewed focus on diversity across all areas in society. Looking at diversity of ethnicity in the workplace our data shows all ethnic groups scored high in job satisfaction, however Arab/,Middle Eastern respondents score particularly low on four of the six steps. White/British/Mixed White scored high when rating their satisfaction with reward and recognition and empowerment. Black /African/Caribbean/Other Black scored high when rating whether their job instils pride. The happiest group we found is Asian.

We’ve found that sectors are improving diversity across the board. Defence, architecture, mining, marketing and advertising all have a high amount of diversity across demographics. As industries tend to become more diverse in one dimension (e.g. ethnicity) they tend to become more diverse in other dimensions (e.g, gender). This is encouraging as any instance of diversity helps foster a general attitude of inclusivity within individual sectors. WorkL allows people to find out how companies score, with live data on the happiest sectors.

In the UK our workforce is becoming increasingly older as people put off retirement. If we look at diversity in terms of age, we can see that well-being at work starts off high in the younger age groups then dips between the ages of 25-54, finally improving for those aged 55+. The same can be said for Information Sharing and Reward and Recognition. We’ve found that organisations that are not-for-profit are most diverse in age and the happiest.

As we have discovered, diversity alone won’t directly create a happy workforce but it can indirectly. It can encourage inclusivity and make a workforce more open to new ideas and direction. To keep track of how the global workforce feel about their working lives, take a look at our free reports published each month with up-to-date analysis or join us for our free monthly webinars.

Find out more about WorkL for Business

Promoted by

The Ultimate Employee Engagement Platform to help you create a happier, more engaged, and more productive workforce.

We offer a range of services all in one place, including: Market Leading Employee Engagement Surveys, World Leading Employee Engagement Data, Recruitment Services to Recruit and Retain the Right Talent, Progressive Development Employee Learning Packages and Secure Business Communications Apps.