Training and Development for a Diverse Workforce
Today’s Society as a whole is ever changing and exceedingly diverse - Training and Development for a Diverse Workforce introduction. This can also be said in the nature of business. Therefore, it is critical for organisations, HR managers and employers within any business to find different methods of training and development to suit their workforce, as well as trying to attract and keep talented employees through such opportunities.
It is not satisfactory for employers to treat each employee the same, but instead must view each as an individual with differences, such as working styles, personality traits, culture, socioeconomic background, educational background and occupational background (Pynes, Joan E, 2009, p88). Although, these elements should not impact negatively in anyway and each person should be given equal opportunities determined by job performance and initiative.
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Because of this diversity, it is unlikely that all employees will hold similar work values (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p18) Research suggests that to maximise employee’s motivation and commitment to company goals, employees should be given the opportunity to develop their skills, meet their interests and balance work and non work activities (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p18). Taking this into account, this essay will explore a few groups included in the diversity of organisations, how and why organisations train and develop their diverse workforce, and how their performance in this, can affect their competiveness in the Global Economy.
It can be said that many employees of any company often do not want to stay in entry level jobs. Individual career progression is an issue that can affect the diversity in the work force. Where some employees like to stay doing one job, most prefer to be trained and moved upward in the organisation, taking on different roles as they are developed. At the Marriott, a chain of widely spread hotels, HR recognise this need for progression and realise that most of their employees will want to progress up from say housekeeping.
Marriott has implemented a system that trains employees to handle a wide variety of positions and rotates them periodically to new jobs (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p18). This gives employees opportunities to find the area that they like and suits them best. They are encouraged to train for promotion. The goal is to keep employees interested in their work and keep them interested in working for Marriott (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p18). So by employers and HR recognising individual needs to progress, training can be implemented.
Companies such as the Marriott, also need to take into account that even though employees may want to progress, employers need to train and develop employees in a certain way so they are comfortable working with a wide variety of people with different backgrounds. It is also crucial for the business and the employee that each individual progressing go through a process of career development, whereby they go through different stages to learn skills and gain experience needed to be successful in the next position.
Managing diversity in these kinds of organisations involves creating an environment that allows all employees to contribute to organisational goals and experience personal growth, which includes progression within a company (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p332). Some organisations may find it difficult to manage different cultures and ethnic groups in terms of training and development. Despite the best intentions, many organisations have failed to find racial balance in their teams.
It is common for minorities such as this to feel very frustrated when faced with the barriers they encounter. In many companies they are often stuck in middle management, or if lucky to get in executive ranks, they are often put into racialised positions such as dealing with ethnic markets or equal employment opportunity (Thomas, David, 2001). Cultural and ethnic differences within organisations can often mean that trainers need to adjust training to meet the needs of this minority. They must consider language differences especially whilst preparing training material.
Some individuals may also require an interpreter to get messages across clearly (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p333). If an interpreter is used, it is important to conduct a practice session with the interpreter to evaluate pacing of the session and whether the amount of topics and material is appropriate (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p333). A needs assessment or analysis would be helpful for trainers to evaluate cultural dimensions and the characteristics of their employees whether it be language barriers, cultural status (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p334).
By identifying the needs of cultural and ethnic minorities, trainers will be able to properly train and develop this minority to group to not only suit the individual themself but also the company. Gender diversity in the workforce is another issue trainers must address. Women are increasingly entering the workplace at rapid speeds and due to their responsibility for home and family matters, employers and HR managers must provide flexibility and solutions through training and developing.
Many women in the workforce have to juggle motherhood and try to manage a career and work life at the same time and studies have shown that the strain is beginning to take its toll on the general health and wellbeing of the female population (Robinson, Deborah, 2008, p1). Women need to be mentored by trainers to step up at take more senior positions in their work place. They need to be taught practical skills that will prepare them and boost confidence to take on these roles (Robinson, Deborah, 2008, p1).
In saying this, senior positions for women must take into account a work-life balance especially women who are mothers. Employers can do a number of this to develop female workers into high positions and still maintain this balance via such things as job sharing, part time roles and even child care minding centres in the organisation. Creating a secure learning environment for women and other minority groups is essential as otherwise they may feel inadequate, uncomfortable, frustrated and ultimately fail to fully utilise their skills and leave the company (Robinson, Deborah, 2008, p1).
Training and development plays an essential role in any organisation and helps ensure that workers accept each other and work productively together, particularly with minorities and women. For this to work successfully, managers along with employees must be trained in a new set of skills including (Noe, Raymond, 2002, pp18,19) : 1. Communicating effectively with employees from a wide variety of backgrounds. 2. Coaching and developing employees of different ages, educational backgrounds, ethnicities, physical abilities and races. 3.
Providing performance feedback that is free of values and stereotypes based on gender, ethnicity or physical handicap. 4. Creating a work environment that allows employees of all backgrounds to be creative and innovative (Noe, Raymond, 2002, pp18,19). Companies that do not follow similar sets of training and do not manage the diversity of their organisations will often find that employee’s talents are underutilised and their personal and professional needs are not being met (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p19). Managing diversity through training programs is an effective way to dd additional support and strategies to successfully deal with issues faced by such groups mentioned above. Companies should ensure the following: * Employees understand how their values and stereotypes influence their behaviour toward others of different gender, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. * Employees gain an appreciation of cultural differences among themselves, * Behaviours that isolate or intimidate minority group members improve substantially (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p337). Such aspects as above can be accomplished through diversity training programs.
This training is specifically designed to change employee attitudes about diversity or the skills needed to work with a diverse work force. Some diversity training programs often used include Attitude Awareness and Change Programs and the Behaviour Based Programs. Attitude Awareness and Change Programs primarily focus on increasing employee’s awareness of differences in cultural and ethnic backgrounds, physical characteristics such as disabilities and personal characteristics that influence behaviour towards others.
It is hoped that through this program that by creating awareness of stereotypes and beliefs, employees’ will be able to positively interact and understand employees with different backgrounds (Noe, Raymond, 2002, pp337, 338). This training not only has been developed to show differences between employees, it has been developed to more so consider the similarities employees have with each other. Attitude Awareness and Change programs usually use videos and experiential exercises to increase employee’s knowledge on the effects of negative behaviour towards minority groups (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p338).
Behaviour based programs focus on changing organisational policies as a whole, but also individual behaviours that restrain employees’ personal growth and productivity (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p338). There a several different approaches and methods taken towards the kind of program. One approach is to identify incidents that discourage employees’ from working up to their potential. Employees’ are usually put into groups and asked to identify training, promotion opportunities or management practices that were handled unfairly (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p338).
From there HR and management can collate the information received and address any issues employees’ may have with the company and how things have been handled in the past. Another approach is to teach not only employees’ but managers alike, the basic rules of appropriate behaviour in the work place. This training aims at giving examples of say inappropriate language or statements that have negative racial, sexual and cultural content (Noe, Raymond, 2002, pp228, 339). Trainers also explain the effects that this behaviour can have on minority groups.
This training has been notably very effective as many employees and managers can be taught the detrimental effect such behaviour can have on others in the workplace. Another approach widely used is cultural immersion. This program involves sending employees’ directly into the community so they can interact with other races, nationalities and cultures. Some programs may involve working in local community organisations and attending cultural events (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p339).
Via this interaction, employees and managers are forced to go outside their comfort zone or usual social group and meet new people, often bonding over similarities rather than their differences. Although both Attitude Awareness and Change programs and Behaviour Based Programs can be deemed by some as useless and unsuccessful, more often than not, these diversity programs can create long term success for an organisation. But everyone in the organisation, employees’ and managers alike, must be all aboard for change.
Besides this, there are a few other important keys to having a successful outcome. These include – That the program is structured properly, all managers are fully involved, the program is constantly evaluated and updated if need be, the program is not seen as a one off thing and is used often when necessary, no one specifically is blamed for any problems the company may be facing, behaviours and skills taught in the programs are evident once going back to work, that goals for the company are set and that managers and employees are rewarded for meeting these goals (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p340).
Although organisations having a diverse workforce may seem to pose many challenges and alterations to the business, increased diversity such as the above can provide a competitive advantage (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p18). Not only does a diverse workforce put the organisation in a better position in terms of understanding the demographics of the customers they may deal with, it also brings into the business a wider range of experiences and backgrounds to deal with different positions and experiences the company may face. Companies also need to innovate in terms of diversity to continue to cope with the rapid pace of change globally.
A diverse workplace is also more successful because it often reflects an organisations range of stakeholders and is therefore more representative and connected to what’s going on in the world (Noe, Raymond, 2002, p19). Thus, giving an organisation that reflects this a global competitive advantage. Training and Development programs are the key to the success of any organisation that has a diverse workforce. Not training minorities (as well as all other employees’) adequately can often lead to the organisations goals not being met as well as the individuals which can have ghastly effects in terms of staffing and overall performance.
Such training will help eliminate stereotypes, values, and managerial practices instilled in employees and therefore allow employees to contribute to organisational goals regardless of their differences. By HR recognising and analysing needs of individuals, organisations can re-train their workforce to work together as a team effectively and efficiently. Therefore, gaining advantage using their skilled employees in today’s competitive Global economy.