Excerpted from The SHRM Blog by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. SHRM-SCP

Humans have one unique ability that sets us apart from machines and animals: The ability to imagine and create. But has your workforce been given the opportunity to be human? Are you providing employees the space to achieve their full potential?

Or worse, is your workplace actually working against them?

Across the globe, organizations are competing fiercely for talent, and a big part of that effort is retaining the talent they have. But at this moment, it’s likely that a large portion of your workforce is ready to jump ship because they feel unfulfilled, frustrated, limited or mistreated.

Hidden bias. Exclusion. Ageism. Toxic work environments. These constraints inhibit individuals from performing their best at work and drives them into the arms of more inclusive employers.

These barriers are also leaving some of the best available talent outside looking in.

• Almost half of American workers say they’ve been treated unfairly due to their age¬¬—young and old.
• People with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed.
• Roughly three-fourths of people released from prison remain unemployed for more than a year.
• And more than 50 percent of veterans have trouble finding work.

Let’s be honest, the workplace needs work. When we hold back people, we hold back businesses and our economy. It’s time for workplaces—and the people who lead them—to be courageous enough to acknowledge and fix these issues.

That is the message of SHRM’s newest national television commercial, “When Work Works Against You,” which launched on major cable networks today. The commercial highlights the importance of inclusion by illustrating, in stark imagery, how biases can keep individuals “in a box,” unable to grow and stretch their talents to achieve their human potential.

As HR leaders, you have the responsibility—and privilege—to bring the gift of possibilities to the people you serve. By identifying the constraints of the workplace culture and making a plan to overcome them, organizations will be rewarded with higher levels of success, productivity, and engaged workers freed to set bigger goals and discover who they were born to be.

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