What challenges does a diverse workforce pose to the supervisor? What would you expect to find rewarding about addressing these challenges?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Diversity in the workplace is an advantageous quality, as it means a company or organization’s work environment is comprised of a wide range of diverse employees with different characteristics. This includes people of varying genders, agse, religions, races, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, languages, education levels, (dis)abilities, and skills. This wide range of differences helps stimulate new ideas and methodologies.

However, it can also result in a number of challenges, such as ethnic and cultural differences, language and communication problems, and acceptance issues. By identifying the challenges and differences that exist among employees, supervisors are better able to assess and address specific diversity issues. This gives the supervisor a feeling of empowerment and understanding of how best to mesh their diverse staff so that they can all work together as a team. It also helps establish a culture of acceptance within an organization, which is beneficial for everyone, from top leadership to support personnel. This helps supervisors feel a sense of accomplishment and awareness for future situations where diversity issues might arise. Ultimately, supervisors who successfully manage diversity within their organization are rewarded with more committed, better satisfied, and higher performing employees.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The major challenge posed by a diverse workforce comes from the same source as the major benefit of such a workforce.  A diverse workforce is made up of people from different races, different cultures, and different backgrounds of other sorts.  This means that the people in such a workforce can be very different from one another.  These differences are a source of benefits, but they can also make it very hard for supervisors.

There are two main reasons for this.  First, it will be difficult to deal with all of the different kinds of people without having misunderstandings arise between the supervisor and the employees.  People from different backgrounds will have different ways of understanding things and might miscommunicate.  It can be hard for supervisors to understand the needs of people from other backgrounds and to know how to motivate those people to do well.

Second, the existence of diversity in the workplace can cause problems between workers that supervisors must mediate or arbitrate.  People from different backgrounds may dislike one another on racial/ethnic/religious, or whatever other bases.  Even if that does not happen, they may simply misunderstand one another and those misunderstandings may lead to conflict.  In these ways, a diverse workplace can lead to problems for supervisors.

The main thing I would expect to find rewarding about this is that any difficult job is rewarding if you do it well.  There is a real sense of accomplishment that goes along with doing a hard job well.  This sense of accomplishment is much less present if the job was not hard in the first place. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team