Article: How to address 'Diversity Fatigue' in the workplace?


How to address 'Diversity Fatigue' in the workplace?

Leaders play a crucial role in preventing diversity fatigue and should set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
How to address 'Diversity Fatigue' in the workplace?

Diversity fatigue, or the exhaustion and/or pressure faced by HR professionals striving to maintain diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), poses significant challenges to organisations.

The phenomenon presents itself in several ways, including decreased employee participation and enthusiasm for DEI initiatives, a growing sense of disillusionment with the progress of DEI, and a general discouragement toward DEI efforts.

Recent studies reveal a concerning trend of diminishing engagement in DEI initiatives over time by the employees and hiring teams. To avoid stalling such efforts or abandoning the pursuit of a diverse workforce, it becomes crucial to understand the nature of this fatigue and implement effective strategies for overcoming it.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Guruvayurappan PV, CHRO at Omega Healthcare, shares invaluable insights into the factors driving diversity fatigue, the rising instances of failed DEI initiatives, and goes on to offer key solutions and practices to combat this prevailing challenge.

Edited excerpts

What is diversity fatigue and how does it manifest in the workplace?

Diversity in India is largely invisible, excluding gender and persons with disability. Caste, culture, and regional differences are some of the diverse elements in society, which are difficult to infuse in a corporate environment due to their invisible nature and the sensitivity involved.

Society perceives conversations on caste and culture as taboo topics and the inability to let that surface as an element of diversity in organisations could cause diversity fatigue, or the mental and emotional exhaustion that can arise from the ups and downs an individual or organisation faces while making efforts to address and promote DEI in the workplace.

This can manifest in various ways, such as disengagement from DEI initiatives, resistance to change, and a feeling of being overwhelmed or burnt out.

In addition to this, when an organisation has always done “what is right”, the effort to add diversity in the form of numbers/statistics could appear to be an effort for just being part of an initiative that other organisations follow, and cause fatigue.

In the workplace, diversity fatigue can lead to a lack of commitment to DEI initiatives and the perpetuation of systemic inequalities.

It can also cause marginalised employees to feel unsupported and undervalued, ultimately leading to a negative impact on the overall work environment and employee morale. In our organisation, we are quick to spot these disconnects and act immediately to fill the gaps.

In your experience, what are some of the common causes of diversity fatigue among employees and leaders in the workplace?

The most common cause of diversity fatigue is the difficulty in adhering to long-term commitments in favour of achieving short-term, task-based DEI efforts.

Many times, diversity is only limited to being a number in the books. It is equally important to consider softer elements like respect, equality, and communication. Even the vocabulary, if used incorrectly, can lead to fatigue.

How can diversity fatigue be addressed in the workplace, and what strategies have you found to be most effective in your organisation?

Addressing diversity fatigue in the workplace requires a multifaceted approach that includes both individual and organisational strategies. Measuring the DEI initiatives to understand where diversity fatigue can arise is one step.

“Do the right thing” and never compromise on “Respect for the individual” are two elements, which can address diversity fatigue, and we have found them to be effective.

At Omega Healthcare, we have found that prioritising employee wellness, providing ongoing education and training opportunities, and promoting a culture of inclusivity and collaboration have been effective in combating diversity fatigue.

Additionally, we have worked to ensure that diversity and inclusion efforts are shared across the organisation and that progress towards goals is regularly communicated to all employees. By taking these steps, we have seen increased engagement and commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives, leading to a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

What role do leaders and executives play in preventing and addressing diversity fatigue in the workplace, and how do you encourage their involvement and commitment?

Leaders set the tone for diversity initiatives and the focus has been both on softer and quantitative elements of diversity, which has helped us keep the fatigue at bay.

We have created a “SMART” model for recruitment.

  • Specific – simple goals, yet specific enough that there’s no confusion as to what our employees are trying to achieve.
  • Measurable – each goal is measurable, where the progress is monitored.
  • Achievable – every goal is attainable.
  • Relevant – goals are realistic and aligned with the hiring objective.
  • Time-bound – recruiting and hiring goals are time-bound and executed against a specific quarter.

How do you ensure that your company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives continue to engage employees and leaders, and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or disengaged?

To engage employees and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or disengaged, it is important to take a proactive and intentional approach.

At Omega Healthcare, we always put forth our efforts in maintaining transparent communication with our employees. We plan for short bursts campaigns and programmes with long-term goals as the base, which engages employees more effectively.

We provide personalised support and resources for employees who are experiencing diversity fatigue or feeling overwhelmed. Soliciting employee feedback on diversity and inclusion initiatives and incorporating that feedback into future plans and initiatives, has helped to ensure that these efforts are aligned with the needs and priorities of the workforce.

How do you support and empower employees to speak up and share their experiences and perspectives, even when these may be uncomfortable or challenging to hear?

We have various employee engagement surveys and a chatbot that reaches out to our employees at various touch points in their journey at Omega Healthcare. These initiatives lead to open communication and offer a platform for employees to speak up.

We are always open to accepting diverging views and employees are well aware that there is no negative consequence for speaking up.

Finally, what advice do you have for other HR leaders who may be facing challenges related to diversity and inclusion?

An uncompromising visible demonstration of respect for the individual and always doing “the right thing” in addition to measuring, tracking, and monitoring initiatives on DEI can go a long and meaningful way.  

Read full story

Topics: Diversity, Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, #DEIB, #Work Culture, #Wellbeing

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?

Your opinion matters: Tell us how we're doing this quarter!

Selected Score :