As the world becomes increasingly smaller through virtual, work-from-home situations, our backgrounds and cultures continue to merge and interact with each other. In addition, technology and air travel have fostered an inclusive and diverse outlook for workplaces and businesses. As a result, organisations can now expand beyond what was once impossible and can outsource employees from around the globe.
However, it’s not just expansion that has become a new norm–according to a report by Indeed, more than 57% of Australian workers say their workplaces employ employees from different ethnic, cultural, and social backgrounds. This shift creates opportunities for learning how to develop cultural awareness; however, it also presents specific challenges with communication, as different linguistic or cultural backgrounds bring their own expectations to the workplace. So, businesses must diversify their workforce effectively to make cultural awareness part of their business culture, which will help to ensure every employee is seen, heard, appreciated, and understood.
Effect of Cultural Awareness on Workplace Communication
Employees’ primary issues in the workplace are misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and communication difficulties. No relationship can flourish without clear communication, and workplace relationships are no different. Building a work environment characterised by clear communication can be daunting, especially considering differing expectations and personalities of people with varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Communication is one of the primary challenges when integrating and interacting with a multicultural team; however, it’s also one of a company’s biggest strengths once they understand the process of multicultural communication. This is why cultural awareness is important in the workplace–a company whose employees understand themselves and those around them is far less likely to experience friction and arguments, and this is particularly true if employees are aware of various communication needs and styles.
Cultural Awareness Can Boost Team Performance
Culture awareness imprints long-term interpersonal and problem-solving skills that bring better results in regards to efficiency, including creating a thriving business. Building a more culturally aware workforce brings a wide range of skills, experience, and expertise to the workplace. Many studies have shown a clear link between increased productivity and a culturally diverse workplace. Although this is primarily due to an influx in opportunities for innovation, it also stems from healthy communication and collaboration–multicultural teams who work well together thanks to cultural awareness achieve incredible results.
The Workplace Should Reflect a Multicultural World
Cultural awareness has immense benefits for the overall happiness and well-being of employees. First, employee satisfaction and increased productivity contribute to a positive business culture. A diverse and inclusive team that works well together and respects each other’s cultural and ethnic backgrounds is likely to form stronger relationships. In fact, employees in diverse teams have been found to be much more likely to be effective than employees in non-diverse teams.
Morally, a workforce that promotes cultural diversity and works against discriminating and stereotyping fosters higher trust levels among employees and customers alike. In addition, cultural awareness can help ease the stress that issues like unconscious bias place on those from differing cultural backgrounds.
Although cultural awareness on its own doesn’t immediately guarantee perfect mental health, it certainly reduces the possibility of unhealthy competition and discrimination. In addition, it encourages us to value our differences–according to recent studies, the experience of feeling accepted and understood is a major component of our overall wellbeing and overall happiness.
Inclusive work environments can become challenging when cultural awareness isn’t a top priority, but we can improve our interpersonal skills by taking measures to become more aware of ourselves and others. Still, like with any other skill, cultural awareness doesn’t happen overnight–it requires an open mind, patience, and a willingness to be flexible, learn, and self-reflect. Once your company works toward this goal, you’re most likely on the right path to success and inclusivity.