Human resources are the assets of a business organization and the success or failure of the projects undertaken by an organization depend upon the human resources to a large extent. With the increase in the digitization and globalization, has become essential for the business firms to think globally and inclusively. The business units work from several locations across the globe and the employees come together on a common platform to work as a team. The diverse workforce provides the business firms with many benefits; however, there are certain challenges and issues that may also come up.
The paper discusses the concept of workplace diversity. It also brings out the benefits and challenges associated with the diverse workforce in the workplace. There are certain recommendations that have been included to deal with the challenges and issues.
Workplace diversity refers to the presence of diverse resources on the basis of cultural and individual differences. The differences of the resources may be in terms of their gender, age, ethnicity, background, marital status, and various other factors (Darden, 2012).
These diverse resources come together and function as a team to carry out professional tasks and activities.
Benefits of Diverse Workforce
Creative Thinking & Innovation
The presence of a diverse workforce in an organization enables the organization to maintain and enhance the element of innovation in all the business activities that it carries out.
The diverse resources may bring out their creative ideas and concepts that may be used to develop innovative solutions and services for the customers. The people of a specific cultural group or background tend to think alike. The mixing of these resources and diverse cultures may lead to the generation of newer ideas that may be beneficial for the organization (Ozgen, Nijkamp & Poot, 2015).
Diverse Clients & Stakeholder Management
The business units in the current times are required to function globally. There are business clients that are spread all across the globe.
The interaction with the clients may become easier for a resource from the same region or culture as that of the client. It leads to the ability to easily understand client requirements and concerns. Similarly, there are internal and external stakeholders involved in a specific project. The diverse workforce may lead to the implementation of the cross-cultural managerial practices which may make it easier to handle the stakeholders. The stakeholder demands can be easily and accurately tackled in such cases to attain the highest levels of stakeholder cooperation and contribution during a project timeline.
Professional Development & Skills
The diverse workforce can assist each other for the overall professional development and skill enhancement.
For example, it has been recorded that the communication and analytical skills of females are better than their male counterparts. Similarly, risk management and creative thinking skills of the males are usually better than the females. In a diverse workplace, the employees from both the genders can acquire the skills from each other. There may also be an internal piece of training that may be organized by the business firms for the professional development of their resources (Carter, 2017).
Similarly, the resources from a specific region or cultural background may have high proficiency in certain business areas or may have better knowledge of specific tools. The employees can carry out cross-functional training and discussions for their skill enhancement.
Such internal activities are beneficial for the organizations as these are cost-effective in nature. The need to hire an external trainer or expert for the same purpose is an expensive process.
Enhanced Brand Reputation & Global Impact
The business organizations that have a diverse workforce tend to have a higher employee satisfaction level and lower employee turnover ratio. Also, in the present era of globalization, these organizations can succeed in establishing themselves as a global firm to develop a global reputation and gain enhanced market shares.
The employees, customers, and the stakeholders also look for the business firms that may be able to carry out global business operations and the presence of a diverse workforce is one of the pre-requisites for the same (Gwele, 2009).
With the presence of a culturally diverse workforce, business firms may succeed in carrying out target marketing.
The employees from the same cultural backgrounds may conduct surveys, interviews, and group discussions with the customers of their regions to understand their choices and preferences. The comfort level for the customers will be higher in such cases and they will be able to put across their requirements and expectations clearly. The organizations will be able to understand the customer expectations and preferences in a better manner and target marketing strategies and plans will be developed accordingly.
Increased Productivity & Creativity
With the presence of a diverse workforce, the overall productivity and creativity of the employees increase. It is because there are a wide variety of perspectives and viewpoints that come together and the generation of new ideas is done.
The employees can also utilize the best ideas and concepts out of the options available which may lead to the enhancement of their productivity levels. The diverse brainstorming sessions have a positive influence on the project and the organization as a whole (Lakmal, 2014).
Challenges of Diverse Workforce
There are also a few challenges that are associated with a diverse workforce.
Language & Communication Barriers
There are business organizations that tend to deploy employees from diverse cultures and backgrounds but are not ready to train the resources accordingly. The absence of training and global communication tools with automated language processors and translators may lead to increased confusions among the resources. Communication is one of the key requirements in a project and the lack of communication will be negative for the resources as well as for the project (Patrick & Kumar, 2012).
Increased Conflicts and Disputes
With the presence of a diverse workforce, there are varied perspectives and viewpoints that get involved. These variations may be beneficial for the projects and the organizations as long as the resources agree on a common point. However, the probability of resource conflicts increases with the variation in the perspectives and viewpoints. There may be increased conflicts and disputes among the resources and the consent between the parties may not be achieved. This may bring down the resource productivity levels and may also bring in unwanted delays in the project (Heitner, 2008).
The collaboration of the resources may become extremely difficult in certain cases.
Legal Policies & Barriers
The employment policies and laws of one country differ from the other. In order to deploy a resource from another country, it is necessary that the legal policies of both countries are complied with. There are additional requirements that also come up, such as employment visa requirements, cost of accommodation, and transportation for the employee.
The employees may unknowingly violate the legal policy of the other country which may bring up legal obligations for the employee as well as for the organization.
There are obdurate gender inequality issues that still exist in the major portion of the globe. The issues, such as variation in the pay for males and females, a difference in the policies on the basis of employee gender, and workplace safety issues are some of the common challenges that are required to deal with.
Accommodation of Beliefs
The diversification in the workplace may lead to the presence of a variety of beliefs in terms of political, cultural, social, and regional beliefs. The employees may not agree with their fellow employees in some or all of these matters. There may be a disturbance in the workplace harmony and peace that may also be witnessed in such cases (Anderson & Chhiba, 2008).
The accommodation of beliefs is one of the major challenges that come with a diverse workplace.
A Diverse workforce has become a necessity in the present times. However, the organizations shall be ready to incorporate a diverse workforce. There are certain measures that shall be carried out in advance.
- Communication is one of the basic requirements for employees. The organization shall provide training to the resources on one of the global languages so that the employees can interact with each other. There shall also be used of automated tools that shall be done so that there are no barriers in communication.
- Legal awareness is essential for the employees and the organization. The legal experts and advisors shall be deployed and these resources shall provide the training on the legal compliance and adherence.
- Leadership and management will play a significant role in the management of a diverse workforce. The organizational leaders shall utilize the cross-cultural leadership style as one of the styles to lead the resources. It will ensure that the employees develop trust for the organizations and for their leaders. The leaders and managers will also succeed in developing and implanting the policies for the employees without any bias.
- The conflict resolution and dispute handling techniques shall also be in place to make sure that employee conflicts are handled adequately. The senior management and leadership must also participate in the resolution process if the lower level managers fail in the process.
- The resource collaboration techniques and processes must also be carried out so that the resources can come together on a common platform and work for the organization.
There are pros and cons associated with a diverse workforce in the workplace. The organizations shall implement the strategies so that the potential issues and challenges can be avoided. There must be administrative, organizational, and technical changes made to incorporate the diverse workforce. The training and development sessions shall be an integral part of the process to make it successful.
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