In the business world, transactional activities are common. For example, the business needs a pallet of supplies, they get a quote from a salesperson, order the supplies, pay for supplies and receive the supplies. The transaction is complete.
When it comes to hiring staff, it’s pretty much the same. The employer needs a sales clerk, they advertise the position, interview various candidates, hire the person, and the new employee starts working at the company. The transaction is complete. Right? Wrong.
That was the old way of hiring and interacting with employees and quite frankly, it just doesn’t work anymore. You may get warm bodies to respond to the ad and even show up for the interview, they may even accept the position, but if you want to keep them, you have to drop the transactional day to day mentality and think transformational.
You must ask yourself, how will the job, the company or the organization change the lives of its employees? Is the work rewarding, enjoyable, and does it provide benefits that workers today want? Is the organization inclusive and can people bring themselves to work?
I have to admit that I have used traditional transactional employment practices for most of my career. As an employee, my goal was to “fit in.” That meant dressing like everyone else, speaking like everyone else and doing the same kinds of social activities, all in the hopes of advancing my career. It worked and today, I am the one setting the standards.
However, from listening to my employees, I've come to realize that times have changed. There was a time when I frowned upon administrative staff coming to work with purple or blue hair, or whatever was not a “normal” hair color. I also banned casual Fridays, in an effort to maintain a professional atmosphere.
As I began to ensure that my organization was inclusive, I was confronted with the fact that our policies were not very inclusive and my old way of thinking was not allowing my staff to be themselves, which in turn stifled their creativity. I re-established casual Fridays and staff can wear their hair however they like.
Of course, these are minor changes, but these minor changes are just part of a plan that is transforming how we engage with employees at Goodwill Industries of East Texas.
So many companies get sidelined in trying to implement diversity, equity and inclusion practices by being transactional instead of transformational. Being transactional in your DEI implementation is checking off the boxes ONLY.
It struck me recently when I observed how different everyone is in our office, from hair color to clothing styles, to personal beliefs, and yet how professional everyone approached their work. And, most importantly, how well we all work together.
Being transactional is counting the number of ethnicities, genders, etc. in the absence of seeking relationships with your staff. Building relationships with each other, makes room for true transformation. It is important to track your data and measure your success as a method of accountability, but that's just part of building a workplace that is inclusive and where workers feel like they belong.
When employees feel as though they are being seen, heard and respected, it brings about a feeling of transformation. No longer are they “just another employee.” They are important to the organization and the organization is important to them.