How Information Accessibility Fosters A Sense of Inclusion

Most people, no matter where they work, feel valued when they are included, whether it's the kid on the schoolyard who is let into the inside joke or the marketing manager who is brought into the strategy meeting dictating their work.

Feeling valued often leads to more buy-in to the company mission, better work, improved morale. We know, thanks to studies and ample evidence, that diversity, equity, and inclusion are key components of a successful workplace culture, but are often merely talked about or addressed with band-aid solutions.

Back in 2016, Charles Duhigg, a columnist for the New York Times, examined the concept of Psychological Safety in a piece about Google’s quest to build the perfect team. The company found that employees were significantly more productive in an environment where they feel free to share information, had clear goals, and generally felt comfortable in their surroundings.

To be addressed effectively, diversity, equity and inclusion need to be woven into every fabric of your business, starting with access. A company can hire stellar candidates with unique backgrounds, but if those candidates never feel at home, they’re already starting at a disadvantage.

Access to key people and information can help decentralize the traditional “corporate ladder” and grant employees at all levels the chance to ensure their voice is heard.

No matter how intelligent or capable an employee is, their impact is limited if they do not have access to the full scope of information related to the business. Exacerbating this issue, employees also might be unsure which is the right forum to share their feedback.

We had a few of the above scenarios in mind when we began developing Haystack’s groups and events features. Our goal was to allow employees to find their safe spaces early, meet people who share similar interests, and find mentors internally to help them navigate internal structure and politics.

Employees can now engage. They can join an interest group related to their cultural background, interests outside of work, family heritage, or any other experience important to them. They can also create and participate in movie nights, discussion groups, or other events related to their interests. These functions can operate as a microcosm of the larger Haystack ecosystem, allowing much more robust interaction than just a Slack channel.

There’s also an element of employee feedback. Most progressive organizations utilize feedback from their employees to improve on all aspects, including their diversity initiatives. Often change is driven by engagement and discussion, but what is discussion without knowledge? Our vision was born out of employees not feeling satisfied with their ability to find the information that they needed.

Think about it: Do you know and understand your company’s goals? Are you familiar with your leadership team, your benefits offerings, or even your company’s approach to diversity? These pieces of information might not seem crucial for you to do your job, but if you needed to know these things could you find them?

Chances are you’ve noticed if it’s easy or difficult to access information about your company, but maybe you haven’t thought too deeply about the consequences of it. If you were more informed, do you think that would make an impact on how committed you are to your role or your company?

At Haystack, we think about these questions. A lot. And we believe you should, too. Information accessibility is crucial, and can have an impact on a broad range of issues from efficiency, to alignment, and even belonging. Despite that, it's not the norm for many teams.

Here are three reasons why we decided to build consumer-grade software for employees at companies that matter.

The Cost of Closed Communication

It turns out that more than half — 54% — of workers spend more time searching for documents than responding to emails because the information they need is not easily accessible, according to a study by Wakefield Research.

As you might imagine, that unproductive time adds up. Employees spend 1.8 hours per day, on average, searching for and gathering information, McKinsey Global Institute reported. That equates to 9.3 hours per week, 37.2 hours per month, and 446.4 hours per year trying to find the information that you may need to finish that project.

A workplace thrives when it’s aligned at all levels, from the CEO to the newest hire, and alignment hinges on access. What’s the purpose of having information if it’s incorrect or outdated?

People working in a vacuum are more susceptible to mistakes, even if they don’t notice it. Sales reps might close more deals when they understand the history of your business, how the product has evolved over time, and can share this information casually with prospective customers.

Transparency and Information Accessibility

Information accessibility and transparency are vital for a workplace to earn employee loyalty.

At Haystack, we have found that having unfettered access to information makes a big impact on how workers feel about their job, as well as their professional wellbeing. It’s kind of like daily exercise–you don’t realize how much it helps you until you have it.

Transparency — sharing information honestly and freely in an effort to benefit the organization and its people — should be the foundation of a company’s values if it wants to build and retain healthy, genuine connections with employees. We believe that management should make a collective and conscious effort to be open with employees to foster a deeper understanding and sense of trust so that both parties are equally invested in and feel a part of the company’s mission and success.

Transparency’s Influence on Tenure

There’s an old saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. People often start looking around because they are dissatisfied with some aspect of their environment and feel it cannot be fixed—but what if you felt comfortable sharing that information? What if you truly believed that your company would make a genuine attempt to listen and fix the issue?

Even if the grievance is not immediately fixable (many aren’t), I’d be willing to bet that you’d be more likely to stay with an employer who you believe will approach the situation with sincerity.

Of course, safeguards for company information are important, but often there are unnecessary barriers that make information hard to find because of the platform on which it lives.

Our experience shows that employees want to feel included, and they want a safe space where they can share ideas. Therefore, having a centralized platform that allows leaders to securely share information and develop comprehensive resources, as well as gives employees the ability to search for information across multiple commonly used platforms builds company culture and credibility.

That’s why we are proud to play a part in the evolution of information by partnering with some amazing organizations that push information accessibility and inclusion forward.

Ready to take the next step toward building a stronger digital employee experience?

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