When my daughters started childcare there were pages and pages of enrolment forms to complete! They wanted to know everything from their demographic information, to their sleeping schedule, food preferences, what activities they enjoyed, what made them scared, favourite toys and books, the list of questions went on and on….
At the time this felt like a huge administrative burden but upon reflection i realised that the reason these organisations were asking all of these questions was so they could really get to know my child …..
So they could recognise and respect their routines
So they could provide for their preferences
So they could understand and accommodate their weaknesses
So they could nurture and build upon their strengths
The bottom line was that they wanted this information so that they could make sure my child, as an individual, felt safe and included!
As the girls have gotten older, and started at various different schools, these types of questions have come less and less. It seems like the older they get, the less they are recognised as individuals with their own needs and preferences, and the more they are considered to be just one of many. Any focus on them as individuals seems to have shifted primarily to their academic abilities.
This is the same in the workplace. As part of the recruitment and selection process we focus on the skills, knowledge, experience and education required to do a job (ie abilities). If we are recruiting well we also give consideration to team ‘fit’, and if we are being really thorough we will evaluate future potential.
Once we find the right employee, how many of us really take the time to understand them on a deeper, more personal level? Not as part of the recruitment and selection process, but from a position of genuine enquiry. What are their favourite pastimes, do they volunteer at school or other community groups, do they celebrate any cultural or religious holidays, do they support a specific sporting code/ team, do they have a regular exercise schedule?
How much easier would it be to respect and accommodate the individual needs of our employees if we understood their routines and preferences. Knowledge is power. So instead of waiting for an employee to feel comfortable enough to come and discuss a specific need with us, we can be proactive in planning for and adapting to their needs.
At Inclusive People Solutions, we believe that taking the time to really understand your employees, and recognising and respecting their individuality, is the starting point to building an inclusive workplace culture. #includeandthrive