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Barrier to Inclusion: Invisible Expectations in the Workplace - 3 Plus International

Barrier to Inclusion: Invisible Expectations in the Workplace

by Mar 5, 2024

Invisible Expectations in the Workplace

Invisible expectations in the workplace can cause a barrier to inclusion, read on for how both organisations and employees can address these expectations.

Definition

Invisible expectations in the workplace refer to unspoken or implicit assumptions and requirements that are not clearly communicated but are still expected of employees. These expectations are often based on cultural norms, organisational values, or informal practices.

No one explicitly defines invisible expectations in job descriptions, postings, employee handbooks, or official communication. Interviewers don’t mention them in the hiring process so they are “hidden” to newcomers or those unfamiliar with that particular workplace culture.

The banner ” this is the way we do things here” or “the x company way” frequently encompasses all invisible expectations.

It is also known as conformity bias.

 

invisible expectations in the workplace

 

Examples of invisible expectations in the workplace

1. Communication Style

Some organisations have unspoken and invisible expectations about how employees should communicate with the leaders or even among themselves. Usually, it can be the preferred mode of the current leader or even the manager of a team. (email, in-person, messaging), the tone (formal or informal), or the frequency of updates.

There can also be significant cultural differences as anyone who works in an international environment will know. Some cultures are very respectful of their hierarchy (high power index including cultures such as  China, Belgium, France, Malaysia, and the Arab world) Others encourage individualism and value earned power  – low power index including countries such as (UK, the USA).

3Plus offers professional unconscious bias training programmes. Find out more HERE.

2. Discretionary effort

While most companies specify official working hours there may be invisible expectations around working late or at weekends and responding to emails after hours. They measure attitudes to these unwritten rules as an indication of dedication to the job which are then used as a benchmark for success and the basis of promotion assessments.

Phrases like going the extra mile are common in this type of organisations. How far is that mile and what is involved? Is it working late for 30 minutes or all night?

Presence and availability culture revisited – 3 Plus International

3. Networking and Socialising

Some workplaces place value on informal networking and socialising within the organisation. This could include attending after-work events, company socials, and events where bosses take a dim view of non-attendance.

4. Problem-Solving Approach

Some organisations prefer a problem-solving approach and have the freedom to explore solutions to issues before they speak to their boss. Other businesses expect detailed consultation which involves much hands-on “fine-tuning” also known as micro-managing. These assumptions are embedded deep in their workplace cultures.

5. Dress Code

Most businesses have a general dress code, but certain roles or situations may have specific expectations that are not specifically outlined.

This could never be better dressed than a client or customer for example. The days of keeping a jacket in the office in case you are called to a meeting thankfully seem to be over.

6. Adaptability

Companies may expect employees to take on additional responsibilities, to cover for absent colleagues as conditions demand. The ability to adapt to changing priorities or take on additional responsibilities may be an invisible expectation in dynamic work environments.

How do you find out?

How can you find out about a workplace culture before you start?

  • Research the leadership team. Check out their academic backgrounds or employment experience. Pay attention if there is a pattern.
  • Ask in the interview “how do you measure success? ” and “what does a successful person look like here ?”
  • Find out about growth opportunities and how performance is assessed.
  • Evaluate its online presence
  • How does the company view flexible work arrangements?
  • Are there defined linear career paths?
  • What are the most valued traits among the leaders?

 

Addressing invisible expectations

To address these invisible expectations, organisations should aim for clear communication, provide comprehensive onboarding, and encourage an open dialogue about workplace norms and values in everything they do.

Employees should also seek feedback and clarification when uncertain about implicit expectations to foster a more transparent and inclusive work culture.

 

 

Does your workplace lack diversity? 3Plus can help you with our specialist services for Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment.

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services for building inclusive workplaces

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📢New program: How to create inclusive job postings

In today's rapidly evolving world, it's essential for organisations to embrace diversity and inclusion. Organisations unconsciously communicate their company cultures and values in everything they do including their job postings. These can either attract or repel talent from a diverse range of backgrounds.

A crucial step in this process is ensuring that your job postings reflect these values. Our training program will equip you with the knowledge and skills to craft job descriptions that attract candidates from all backgrounds, eliminating bias and fostering an inclusive hiring process.

 

create inclusive job postings

Full programme details HERE

 

📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.

 

 

Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary

February 26th  Corporate Keynote -  Best Practices of a Sponsorship Programme for Women

March 4th Corporate Keynote  - The “I” in Inclusion.  How we can all make an impact on DE&I

March 20th Corporate Training Programme  - The Importance of Inclusivity in the Hiring Process

April 15th Corporate Training Programme  - How to Write Inclusive Job Postings

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