If you want to build a successful team, then creating a workplace culture that champions diversity & inclusion (D&I) is the only way to move forward.
After all, inclusion encourages everyone to bring their best selves to work—driving creativity and fostering good relationships in the office. In fact, our research found that over 87% of organizations globally state that D&I is a “priority” in the organization and has even resulted in better profits.
But there’s a lot more to D&I than just hiring diverse talent. You need to cultivate a workspace that grants everyone easy and equal access to everything, including asking for help.
Some groups (women, people of color, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, first generation college students, and a host of other groups) often feel they aren’t in “the club.” They may not feel like they have access to the collective intelligence of the larger group.
It’s critical that everyone have access.
Does your company make it easy to ask for help at work? Download the checklist:Checklist: Make It Easy to Ask for Help
Why is asking for help at work important?
Teams can work more efficiently when they’re all working at the same pace (and on the same page). As such, if one member is a bit behind on a deliverable or is unsure of the next step, they need to ask for help.
“Without the help and assistance of others, we don’t receive the resources that we need to get our work done, to solve problems, and to fulfill our missions in the world,” wrote Wayne Baker in his book All You Have to Do is Ask. Making sure that no member is left behind is a good indicator of D&I.
Additionally, when an employee asks for help, not only are they getting assistance for that particular problem, but the one providing the help is also encouraging their personal growth. This is especially true if the person is asking for feedback.
In fact, the founder of H4 Solutions, Kelly Hoggan, explains that workplaces with great feedback culture boosts employee productivity and builds a “positive atmosphere”—one that lets people feel more inclined to speak up and ask questions. It’ll also inspire them to help out others in need.
Because the advantages of asking for help are so clear, it’s imperative that we give everyone equal access to help.
How to make it easy to ask for help
Let them know what to ask
Perhaps the reason why they’re not asking for help is because they don’t know how to formulate their questions. In this case, inform them that a well-formulated question should be SMART:
- Action-oriented (concrete solutions can answer the question)
- Time-bound (you need to know when they need an answer)
If you or whoever they’re asking for help has all of these details, it’ll be much easier to give a response.
Make it Fast, Easy, and Safe
People are afraid to ask for help. They’re afraid it makes them look stupid, or that they haven’t earned it. Asking for help can be especially challenging for minority groups that feel like they have to work twice as hard for the same recognition. They may be less comfortable asking for help and highlighting what they don’t know.
Therefore, it’s important to make everyone feel psychologically safe. The best way to offer a purpose-built place to ask for help. It usually doesn’t work to use a tool you use for communication (like Slack or Teams). Channels get too crowded and too noisy. There’s no safety or encouragement built in. Platforms like Givitas are created to make asking for help feel natural. Offering such a platform sends a clear signal that your organization wants people to ask for help when they need it.
It’s also important to make it fast and easy. We need to lower the bar to asking for help, which makes everyone more likely to do it.
Work problems are easy enough to find help for, but what if your employees have troubles that are out of your capacity to help with? To this end, consider hiring coaches that can professionally deal with these issues.
Note that professional coaches can have different specialties, such as career, mindset, and even accountability. But before you take your pick from your chosen field, be sure to check for credentials. One of the biggest things life coaching business startups invest in is initial training and certification. The best of them are even a part of a coaching trade association. The more experienced ones might even have more achievements. Consider your options with a budget in mind and what problems your employees need help with most.
Lead by example
Of course, the most straightforward way to build a workplace culture that knows how to ask for help is to lead by example. If you’re having trouble thinking of a campaign or coming up with a solution to an ongoing problem, ask your team for potential solutions.
Asking your team for help not only helps propagate the culture, but it also makes them feel more valued. Incidentally, last year’s Employee Experience Imperative Report showed that employees who feel “heard and valued” are happier and more productive, contributing to the company’s success.
Asking for help shouldn’t make an employee feel incompetent, and that can only happen if you build a culture that encourages this type of behavior. Everyone who needs help should get it without any fuss.
To learn more about how to make it easy to ask for help at work, read the free ebook.Download the Ebook
To learn more about how to support equity and inclusion by giving everyone equal access to help, read more here:Read the DEI Ebook
About the Author
Guest blogger Heather Denise is an HR consultant with a degree in business management and a passion for workplace inclusivity and diversity. Currently based in Chicago, she also enjoys swimming and volunteering at the local shelter.