How HR Leaders Can Encourage Peer Support to Foster Equality and Growth in the Workplace

Research has shown that peer support in the workplace can transform people’s lives and is likely to:

  • Improve the quality of life
  • Reduce the overall cost of services
  • Improve health, including chronic diseases and illnesses like diabetes, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
  • Make staff feel more comfortable
  • Build a more resilient workforce

But even though peer support is so vital and many organizations have simple programs, existing research shows disparities in the benefits of social investments between women and men. So, HR leaders must work on fostering equality among peers for a more supportive work environment.

Recruiting a diverse workforce is important because you’ll have more engaged employees, more creative problem-solving and greater innovation. Plus, diversity can improve your organization's performance.

But it is not without its challenges.

However, fostering equality among peers has many benefits, as it has a significant impact on employee engagement.

This article explores those disparities and how HR leaders can foster more equality among peers.

Understanding the Benefits of Peer Support

As many adults spend considerable time at work, it’s often easier to promote mental health and wellness in the workplace.

In general, peer support and fostering equality among peers empower them to make better decisions and encourage them to work harder to reach their goals. It also creates a more engaged workforce. Peer support in your organization is an essential part of any employee wellness and support program that promotes healthy behavioral changes that can help build a strong workplace culture.

Also, peer support intervention helps to connect people with chronic illnesses and gives them the opportunity to learn more from each other and share their experiences. When people share these common experiences, they feel heard and understood and build stronger connections.

Even though these support programs have many benefits, there are many challenges.

Employers may be reluctant to participate because of other life demands and privacy concerns. Additionally, organizations may not have the interest or capacity to offer these programs.

This is why it’s important for HR to work on offering peer support that reaches all employees and is easier to participate in.

Gender Disparities in Social Investments

Public organizations still have significant gender inequality issues despite actively attempting to address the problems. While pay disparities have lessened by 19% from 1979, many women still earn less than men. And surprisingly, women are 50% more likely to work in the public sector and have surpassed men in getting more education.

The 2020 Global Gender Gap Report stated that it would take another 100 years to achieve gender equality at the current progress rate. Despite women being more likely to work in public sector organizations, economic declines have disproportionately affected them. While women only represent 39% of the workforce worldwide, they represented 54% of job losses as of May 2020.

Yet, women have greater soft skills like collaboration, interpersonal skills, communication and teamwork. In these areas, men are falling behind.

But one 2022 survey by AEI illustrated that as workplaces are shifting to focus on more human-facing skills, women are benefiting more from the positive effects of this. Women also get more from workplace connections and social capital.

Agencies focusing on a more social workplace have seen many benefits for employees with friends at work and social activities. They report people being more satisfied with workplace relationships and finding their jobs more fulfilling and meaningful. All of this leads to higher engagement and more investment in the organizations they work for.

Promoting Equality in Peer Support

There are many ways to promote workplace equality to empower employees and level the playfield for all workers. Many organizations promoting equity also provide equal opportunities. But this takes some forward-thinking, which can be challenging to public sector agencies.

1. DEI Research is Essential

The first thing to do is to get enough information to make informed decisions. You should learn the background, history and context of DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion). Developing DEI initiatives is critical to fostering equity among peers.

2. Set Goals and Show Transparency and Accountability

Setting measurable goals from the start and showing transparency in hiring are key. Establishing goals and showing transparency will help you attract a more diverse and inclusive workforce. And you can show accountability in your DEI process by combining compensation with measurable outcomes for all positions, but especially supervisor roles.

3. Know Your Data

You also want to collect relevant information and analyze it to assess the demographics of your organization. Once you’ve gathered the necessary information, you want to set metrics for your DEI goals like:

  • Employee exit feedback
  • Training data
  • Recruitment data
  • Employee engagement
  • Career advancement information

4. Provide Training on Diversity and Equity

Providing training in areas like inclusive leadership or unconscious bias helps foster belonging and equity among peers. Helping employees collaborate and communicate effectively also helps people from different backgrounds learn how to work together well. Just training people on diversity issues at work helps people become more aware of the challenges men, women and minorities face at work.

This area may take significant work from HR, but the benefits outweigh this issue.

Encouraging Cross-Gender and Cross-Level Collaboration

Discuss ways for HR leaders to encourage collaboration across departments, teams, genders and hierarchical levels. Share examples of successful initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion.

Often issues arise between departments when other teams think certain ones aren’t playing by organizational rules or aren’t committed to the same mission. Collaboration between departments can be tricky.

First, make sure all teams and employees are on the same page, working towards a common goal. Explain the roles and needs in terms every worker can understand. Consider developing a shared language among departments and teams.

Also, practicing transparency helps everyone see the human side of each other, especially leaders. It shows people it’s okay to be human and make mistakes and helps them feel more collaborative and less defensive.

Encouraging open communications helps increase transparency, compassion, understanding and appreciation. Share work goals and timelines for achieving them across departments and teams. This process also illustrates each person and team’s role in your organization. No one can succeed without the other employees and teams.

Key Takeaways

Fostering equality among peers and peer support in the workplace has many benefits. While there are still significant challenges associated with equality and diversity at work, HR leaders can provide more peer support to foster a work culture of inclusivity and equity.

There is still much work to do, but implementing the strategies here can help promote workplace equality and level the playing field for everyone, regardless of gender or ethnicity. With forward-thinking, organizations can build more resilient teams and see more success overall.

If your organization wants help with diversity and equity training, see CPS HR’s DEI training courses.

Peer support and equity have been shown to create a more engaged workforce. Read this article to learn how HR leaders can foster these things at work.
How HR Leaders Can Encourage Peer Support to Foster Equality and Growth in the WorkplaceDOWNLOAD
No items found.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.