As a new mother who has recently returned to work after taking maternity leave, the right to work flexibly and strike a balance between the job I love and my family, is fundamental to me.

For me, flexible working arrangements directly correlate to feeling valued and a sense of inclusion, creating a work environment where I am set up for success.  

The idea of what drives employees and their perceptions of employer brands is explored in the annual Randstad Employer Brand Research.

This year's report takes a deeper dive into diversity and inclusion in the workplace - something we here at Randstad believe should be firmly on the agenda for Australian businesses. 

D&I research findings

Despite an increasing focus on diversity and inclusion practices in recent years, the research has revealed that only half of the Aussie workers believe their employers have successfully established a diverse and inclusive culture.

This echoes industry research showing three in four Australian workers support their organisation taking action to create a diverse and inclusive workplace

As such, there is a significant gap between what employees want and what employers are achieving regarding a diverse and inclusive work environment. 

Our research indicates organisations need to define their strategy better here, putting in place clear channels of communications to foster inclusion, promote broader perspectives and drive diverse thinking.

This plan needs to be driven across all levels of the business because, far too often, it's communicated externally and not executed internally. This results in employees feeling excluded from the conversation, ultimately impacting their work satisfaction and your business.

While many businesses may have policies and strategies in place, the single most critical focus must be on how employees communicate this.

This was reflected in our study, which showed that while only a fifth of Australians ranked diversity and inclusion as an essential factor when choosing an employer.

Once in the job, close to half are calling on employers to deliver clear channels for communication and feedback as well as concrete and meaningful actions about these issues.

creating a sense of inclusion

It's widely accepted that the right cultural fit is critical for Australians when looking to join a company or consider a career move. In line with this, our research showed that almost two-thirds of Australians feel the most incredible sense of inclusion when an employer offers flexible work options. This is something that matters to Australians.

The onus is on employers to deliver precise and defined employee value propositions and create career paths for staff, not just job roles to fill quotas. 

You may attract people to your business, but you won't be able to keep them if you can't champion organisation-wide acceptance of flexible work choices.

Employees need to feel empowered and supported to manage work and life commitments while celebrating niche skill sets - the more diverse, the better. 

This extends to flexibility in the essential job skills required for a role, exposure to other parts of the business, and the more traditional sense of flexible hours and works location. 

How you communicate these HR policies and strategies to staff must be at the core of your organisational culture - it's paramount for building a sense of inclusion. 

Many businesses try to compare themselves to other industries or competitors; however, you need to ensure that your goals are achievable - an SME requires a different approach to a global enterprise.

Through our work with clients, it is apparent that if workers clearly understand the employee value proposition and feel supported in terms of who they are, this will fuel diversity of thoughts and experience, underpinning innovation and helping to increase a business' performance.

taking action

To request the 2018 Randstad Employer Brand Research report, released on Tuesday, 15 May, click here.

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