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Lessons For Leave Managers From Ultimate Software's HR Workshop

Leave case manager learning about inclusivity and boosting company morale

Recently, some members of the Presagia team attended a human resources workshop hosted by our partner, Ultimate Software. It featured amazing talks that were thought-provoking, motivating and informative, and we wanted to share them with you! 

We learned a lot, from instilling diversity and inclusion to establishing an engaged workplace, and everything in between! The workshop extended to important topics that leave managers should be aware of, such as how a lack of inclusivity leads to disengagement and absenteeism. Absenteeism can impact all areas of an organization, from lost revenue to decreased resources (e.g. co-workers stepping in to cover for an absent employee).

To help reduce absenteeism, increase morale, and contribute to a more positive work environment, we’re sharing the top takeaways that leave managers should know. 

The Importance Of Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace

One takeaway from this workshop was that organizations often acknowledge the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but most workplaces don’t actually know how to put this into practice. 

Cecile Alper-Leroux’s (VP, HCM Innovation - Ultimate Software) session, Breakthrough Diversity And Inclusion, addressed this very topic while referencing facts, and provided actionable steps to take. 

Alper-Leroux explained how the workplace is changing and will continue to change in the coming years due to factors like an aging population, rising customer expectations, changing global trade policies, expanding markets and automation. In fact, automation will be such a prominent factor that it’s estimated that by 2025, more than half of the tasks in the workplace will be handled by machines. 

Each country also has their unique workforce concerns in addition to the factors mentioned above. For example, the main workforce concern in the United States is the diverse talent pool and changes to employee expectations. With many expected changes and growing workplace concerns, it’s important for organizations to have a competitive edge. So, how exactly can they achieve this? Alper-Leroux stressed that this is possible through emphasizing and implementing diversity and inclusion, and suggested tips on how to incorporate diversity and inclusion in your workplace.

Rethink The Meaning Of Diversity And Inclusion

Understanding what diversity and inclusion really mean is the first step. Visible diversity is a difference that cannot be hidden (i.e. gender, race, age, physical capabilities), while invisible diversity is a difference that is not so obvious (i.e. neurodiversity, introversion/ambiversion/extroversion, religion, and culture). Inclusion centers around value and respect. 

Belonging is also an important part of the equation; when employees feel that their authentic self is both welcomed and celebrated, they feel a sense of belonging. Ultimately, if employees don‘t feel valued and respected, they likely won’t feel like they belong, or could become disengaged, leading to absenteeism issues

Understand The Current State Of Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace 

Now that you have a better understanding of what diversity and inclusion mean, let’s take a look at the facts, starting with disability! The employment rate in 2018 for those with disabilities in the US was 19.1%, while the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.9%. Individuals with a disability also tend to be older, since the incidence of disability increases with age. 

Fortunately, those with a disability are protected under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which forbids discrimination (in all areas of life including work) towards them. If an employee has a disability, it’s in the employer’s best interest to provide an accommodation and to comply with the ADA. This is not only to keep employers out of “hot water” and avoid discrimination lawsuits, but also to create an inclusive work environment. 

Representation of women on corporate boards and executive committees still has a long way to go as well, with only 22% of women in the U.S. making up these boards and committees. These surprisingly low statistics show just how crucial change is in the workplace. 

Be Aware Of What Contributes To A Lack Of Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace

Oftentimes, our very own stereotypes and biases impact not only our thoughts, but also our actions. These can in turn contribute to individuals feeling like they don’t belong. This can take the form of micro-inequities, which are disrespectful behaviors directed at those with less power, such as constantly mispronouncing a person’s name or only making eye-contact with men while talking to a group consisting of both men and women. 

This can also be played out with micro-aggressions, which can be everyday slights, insults, or snubs that are either intentional or unintentional and communicate negative messages towards individuals in a marginalized group. Examples of micro-aggressions include remarks such as, “you speak such good English” and “you’re a credit to your race.”

Take Action And Be The Change

To instill real change, we must change our business culture and also question pervasive societal biases. An example of this can be seen with some cities and even states banning employers from requesting salary history information from potential candidates. Other steps toward positive change include:

  • Using a scale to determine your employees’ and your own “diversity readiness,” following which you can assess your organization’s readiness to change. Knowing where everyone and the organization stands as a whole can help with next steps and identify where there may be some resistance.
  • Incorporating diversity also means assessing and eliminating potential biases in the hiring process for sourcing, screening and shortlisting potential candidates. Technology can be a great tool for this - for example, it can simplify the process of removing certain words in job descriptions, like those that attract more men than women. 
  • Continue setting and measuring goals, to gauge your progress and find areas of improvement.

By taking these steps you can move towards a workplace that is not only diverse but also inclusive!

How To Ensure You Have An Engaged Workplace

Along with incorporating and instilling diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it’s also essential to ensure your workplace is engaged. We learned a lot on this very subject from Stéphane Simard’s (Employee Management, Communication and Generational Workplace Expert) session, Engage Your Workforce. 

Simard emphasized that there are three pillars of commitment for employee retention:

  1. Vision: Employees want their employers to know who they are, what they want and what they can do. 
  2. Action: Employees' actions or performance can be measured based on their attitude and skills. For example, if they rate high on skills and attitude towards their job, they will perform well. If the opposite is true, there will be a need for improvement. 
  3. Recognition: Understanding the employee, what their vision is and how they perform, means you should be able to recognize their contributions. This can be in the form of praise, bonus, raise, rewards, or even a party. When employees feel recognized and valued, they're more likely to stay with the company. 

As an employer, it’s not only important to understand your employees and what they contribute to the company, it’s also important to have a good grasp of what you offer them. This can include reputation, salary, job stability, work environment, new skills, variety of tasks, and health and wellness benefits.

Offering your employees feedback is also crucial to developing a trusting relationship. Feedback and performance reviews help with this in a variety of ways:

  • They show your employees that you care about them and their contributions 
  • They help employees understand their areas of weaknesses and strengths 
  • They also help open up the lines of communication 

Unfortunately, while 75% of employees consider performance reviews valuable, less than 30% of employees have received them. 

Implementing quick, effective and useful performance reviews doesn’t have to be a long process; you can do one in 10 minutes! Simard offered some tips:

  • Focus on accountability (i.e. actions taken by employee and actions taken by supervisor)
  • Focus on the future - what needs to be done and how will it get completed? What resources are required?
  • Ask the employee what they value (i.e. variety of tasks, more trust, less conflicting demands) 

As an employer or a leave manager, it’s important to recognize your employees’ contributions as well as your organization’s when working to engage your workforce. As we’ve written about in the past, an engaged workforce tends to be more productive and less likely to suffer from absenteeism issues. On top of this, your employees will feel valued, respected and will ultimately respect you and the company, which is a win-win for everyone!

These takeaways left us feeling inspired and energized while creating a lasting impression on us! We hope that you feel the same and are motivated to make positive changes within the workplace for your employees, who will in turn feel motivated to do their best.

About Presagia

Founded in 1987, Presagia has a long history of helping organizations solve complex business problems with easy-to-use solutions. Today, this means providing cloud-based absence management solutions that enable organizations to be more efficient, control lost time and risk, and strengthen compliance with federal, state and municipal leave and accommodation laws.

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