Inclusion graphic; people holding hand equity logo

Fostering Inclusivity During the Holidays and Year Round

Creating an inclusive workplace is a complex task. After all, people are anything but simple. None of us have merely one “self.” Every person is a mixture of intersecting identities that influence how people see us and, conversely, how we see them.

How, then, can a business foster an inclusive workplace, particularly around the holidays? As Stacy Stolen, HR Manager at Alliant National, explains, it requires being mindful of how our biases shape our perceptions while working toward a culture where everyone can be recognized and respected. I spoke with Stolen on the complexities of this work, what Alliant National is doing to promote inclusivity, and takeaways for agencies looking to build inclusive workplaces during the holidays and year-round.

Inclusivity begins with empathy

When asked how she defines inclusivity, Stolen said, “Simply put, inclusion and being inclusive is to have empathy,” adding that, “at a company-level, it takes developing a shared understanding that we all have our own unique experiences that occur within a society filled with inequalities.”  

Once this understanding is established, productive work can begin. “We can then start to relate and learn from others. ​This is important because empathy allows us to humanize one another and feel responsible for everyone’s safety and well-being. We can positively influence our surroundings and ensure everyone feels seen, validated, and heard – even if we don’t directly relate to everyone else’s experience,” Stolen said.

Easier said than done

What makes this easier said than done, however, are social constructs and the unconscious biases they produce. Identity composes a wide range of attributes – from race, sexuality and ethnicity to education level, family of origin and belief structures. Some of these identities, said Stolen, carry more power in the world than others. Depending on how someone identifies, they may find themselves unjustly stereotyped by the dominant power structures of society.  

Building an inclusive workplace, then, necessitates building a culture where people can feel safe and supported enough to interrogate their biases and push back on the inclination to stereotype. A first step involves simply accepting that such biases exist and that typically we have little opportunity to reconsider our ingrained beliefs. As Stolen explained, “Quite often, we interact with folks who look, feel, act like us, or have identities roughly like ours. Therefore, we can’t do anything aside from perpetuate these stereotypical beliefs about folks in other social groups. That’s because we aren’t being exposed to anything different to dismantle these inaccurate ideas. We need to break this cycle and cultivate mindfulness to expand our idea of what collective community looks like.”

It also involves seeing this work as more of a journey rather than a destination. “This work requires consistent and intentional engagement with yourself and others that you interact with daily,” said Stolen. “Just like anything else you aspire to change in yourself or in your environment, you must commit that same time and effort in showing up as an ally and advocating for necessary change.”

Taking action

So, what does this look like in practice? Stolen noted that Alliant National’s commitment to building an inclusive workplace involves investing in culture awareness training and dialogue. Additionally, in the New Year, the company is launching an internal committee dedicated to ensuring that its priorities are considered through an inclusive lens.

Stolen described how these efforts are not viewed as one-offs by the company. Instead, they are part of a continuous, holistic and ever-evolving move toward a more inclusive culture. This is an important feature of Alliant National’s larger goal of being a workplace where every employee feels comfortable bringing their authentic self to work and can:

  • Remain present even when uncomfortable;
  • Accept that we are all part of the problem and must work to change society for the better;
  • Learn how to empathize with others’ experiences that are different from their own;
  • Make mistakes while striving for a better tomorrow;
  • Educate themselves and those around them; and
  • Not expect those with the least power in society to do the brunt of the work.

How to promote inclusivity during the holidays and everyday

Holiday periods are a perfect opportunity to promote an inclusive culture, Stolen noted. For many, holidays are informed by cultural identity. It is important to be mindful around language and emphasize respect for all regardless of individual beliefs. “Just because you don’t celebrate certain holidays doesn’t mean that you are exempt from being aware and educated on holidays and religious practices that others celebrate,” Stolen observed.

Of course, there are many other ways to build inclusivity year-round, including:   

  • Researching histories of marginalized groups and investing in cultural awareness development.
  • Developing ally programs/affinity groups and creating places for folks to find community and to encourage dialogue around challenging topics.
  • Hosting “Lunch and Learns” that expand cultural humility and awareness. Alliant National, for example, recently hosted one titled, “Challenging Stereotypes and Microaggressions.”
  • Surveying your workplace to better understand understand your company’s culture better and find opportunities for improvement.

There is no time like today

Building an inclusive culture takes work; there is no doubt about it. But as the holiday season continues, there is no better time to begin nurturing greater respect, empathy and belonging in the workplace. Stolen noted that when companies commit time and resources to encouraging inclusivity, great things can happen. “Workplaces that commit to inclusivity become more instrumental to their employees, customers and communities.”

Graphic with Great Place to Work 2023-2024 certification badge.

Alliant National Again Certified As A Great Place To Work

Longmont, CO — (November 15, 2023) — Alliant National Title Insurance Company, the title insurer that is uniquely responsive to the needs of independent agents, proudly announces that it has been certified by Great Place To Work® for the sixth time.

The Great Place To Work certification is based on what current employees say about their experience working at Alliant National. This year, 99% of employees said Alliant National is a great place to work – 42% higher than the national average. In addition, 100% of surveyed employees said that when you join Alliant National, you are made to feel welcome.

“Great Place To Work certification is a highly coveted achievement that requires consistent and intentional dedication to the overall employee experience,” said Sarah Lewis-Kulin, the Vice President of Global Recognition at Great Place To Work. She emphasizes that certification is the sole official recognition earned by the real-time feedback of employees regarding their company culture. “By successfully earning this recognition, it is evident that Alliant National stands out as one of the top companies to work for, providing a great workplace environment for its employees.”

“Alliant National is deeply committed to supporting independent agents and the communities they serve. To deliver on this commitment, we’ve built a culture that is rooted in empowerment and a sense of belonging for all our team members,” said David Sinclair, President and CEO of Alliant National. “We strive to create an environment where every employee feels valued and can realize their full potential. Being certified by Great Place To Work for the sixth time is both gratifying and humbling. I want to thank our entire team for their efforts in building a workplace we can all be proud of.”

According to Great Place To Work research, job seekers are 4.5 times more likely to find a great boss at a certified great workplace. Additionally, employees at certified workplaces are 93% more likely to look forward to coming to work, and are twice as likely to be paid fairly, earn a fair share of the company’s profits and have a fair chance at promotion.

Alliant National supports its independent agents by combining expert residential and commercial underwriting with a passionate heart for service. The company delivers uncommon help that promotes the well-being of agents and the communities they serve.

Alliant National is Hiring

Take the first step toward joining a welcoming, inclusive culture by visiting Alliant National’s career page.

Media Inquiries

Adam Mohrbacher
Clockwork Public Relations
e: amohrbacher@clockworkpr.net
p: 651.587.4792

About Alliant National Title Insurance Company

Alliant National is on a mission to empower independent agents while protecting property owners with secure title insurance. The company partners with its agents and never competes against them with direct or affiliate operations. Alliant National serves thousands of title professionals as a licensed underwriter in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Visit alliantnational.com for additional information and follow Alliant National on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest company updates.

About Great Place to Work Certification™

Great Place To Work® Certification™ is the most definitive “employer-of-choice” recognition that companies aspire to achieve. It is the only recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience – specifically, how consistently they experience a high-trust workplace. Great Place to Work Certification is recognized worldwide by employees and employers alike and is the global benchmark for identifying and recognizing outstanding employee experience. Every year, more than 10,000 companies across 60 countries apply to get Great Place To Work-Certified.

About Great Place To Work®

As the global authority on workplace culture, Great Place To Work® brings 30 years of groundbreaking research and data to help every place become a great place to work for all. Their proprietary platform and For All™ Model helps companies evaluate the experience of every employee, with exemplary workplaces becoming Great Place To Work Certified™ or receiving recognition on a coveted Best Workplaces™ List.

Learn more at greatplacetowork.com and follow Great Place To Work on LinkedIn, X, Facebook and Instagram.

Happy Thanksgiving sign with a blurred background of people celebrating

With Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Note From Our CEO

Thanksgiving is a touchstone for reflection, gratitude, remembrance, and a celebration of the gifts we have received. And, although we aspire to be grateful every day, this holiday is a wonderful reminder to pause, take a deep breath, and give thanks.

The past few years have been marked by unprecedented challenges, including world conflicts, a wildly unpredictable US housing market, the emergence of unregulated title products, and a notable increase in fraud. In the face of those obstacles, we have borne witness to your dedication to serving your customers and communities. Your perseverance and fortitude have been a source of inspiration for me and all of us at Alliant National.

I am truly grateful for the progress we have made together this year. For instance, in this month’s #allnatadvantage newsletter, we learned how the team at Florida’s Brick City Title helped stop a fraudulent cash purchase transaction. Brick City and several other agencies have been recognized this year for their fraud prevention efforts under Alliant National’s Crime Watch program. Their actions are a reminder that daily vigilance is key.

We are also grateful for the agents working with us on our new SecureMyTransaction identity verification product, which we announced in August during our Florida Seminar. Together, we are making significant strides in maintaining the integrity of transactions and protecting consumers.

In both big and small ways, we share an unwavering commitment to helping others realize the American Dream. On this Thanksgiving, I extend my deepest appreciation for your heart of service and gratitude for your partnership with Alliant National.

Happy Holidays,

David

stress management word cloud supported by a hand underneath

Take Action To Minimize Stress

Stress can impact anyone, and workplaces are not immune.

It can be easy to minimize the impact of stress on individuals, but given how ubiquitous and harmful it can be, it’s worth taking seriously. With the real estate season heating up, let’s take a deep dive into stress, address how it shows up in the workplace and look at what organizations like Alliant National are doing to support workers.

Stress: the lesser-known facts

When you break stress down, what exactly is it? On a basic level, stress is the body’s response to a demand, the impacts of stress can be acutely felt in the workplace. Any change – good and the bad – can technically be stressful.

There are so many important things to know about stress, but some of the lesser-known facts include:

  • Stress affects everyone,
  • Not all stress is bad,
  • Long term stress can harm your health,
  • There are ways to manage stress, and
  • If you feel overwhelmed by stress, it’s important to reach out to a health professional.

Where does stress often show up?

While stress can be anywhere, it frequently pops up in workplaces. Stacy Stolen, HR Director for Alliant National, explains that this can have significant consequences for employees. “Workplace stress has adverse effects on workers’ mental health, with an increased risk of anxiety, burnout, depression and substance use disorders,” said Stolen. “Workers who are stressed at work are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.”

The negative consequences of stress aren’t just limited to employees. It can affect businesses as well. “It decreases employee productivity,” says Stolen. “Interactions with co-workers may become strained, causing increased conflict, more complaints and grievances, health concerns and higher absenteeism.”

Reducing stress begins with awareness

Given how serious stress can be, it’s obvious that there needs to be increased cultural awareness around the topic. And according to Stolen, some things are moving in the right direction: “It has become more acceptable to ‘talk’ about stress,” says Stolen, “but companies are still struggling to manage workplace stress – especially where recent layoffs may have created more stress and burnout. Companies are starting to realize this, but perks like onsite gyms and nap rooms are not the answer to our problem. Companies must go deeper.”

How can workplaces better address stress?

So, what does it look like when workplaces get serious about addressing stress? For Stolen, it means digging into the psychological reasons that are driving a stressed-out employee. “If your employees perceive your workplace as a threat, then you cannot build the trust your team needs to collaborate and innovate effectively,” she said. “Employers need to shift from individual-level to organization-level approaches for reducing stress at work, which can foster employee well-being while simultaneously improving business performance.”

Some may be quick to say this approach is unrealistic; but rest assured, it’s not. As Stolen explains, “My years of experience have taught me that burnout prevention requires reducing workplace stress while also upping employee engagement.”

What is Alliant National’s approach to stress reduction?

Under Stolen’s leadership, Alliant National has put together a plan of action to help reduce workplace stress. While the company has not yet achieved every goal, it is making good progress toward lowering the amount of stress percolating throughout the organization.

One initiative that has been making headway is the Alliant National Employee Engagement team, which is designed to help “employees feel engaged, fairly compensated, rewarded, and personally committed to and inspired by their work.”

Another goal is to actively create a culture where employees not only feel that it is permissible – but encouraged – to take time off to rest and recharge. Part of that involves constantly reminding employees that they have the freedom to take breaks, take their accrued PTO, pursue a flexible work schedule or ask for help in managing their stress.

Stolen is also working on a mental health “challenge,” where she reaches out to managers to ascertain if their direct reports have run up large PTO balances. The intention behind this initiative is to get a better sense of whether team members are actually using the time that they have earned, and if not, to understand why. This upcoming mental health and stress reduction challenge follows on the heels of one conducted in December of 2022.

There is no magic bullet against stress; but progress is possible!

When asked about how she herself manages stress, Stolen was candid: “I have no secret sauce, but what I have learned is that I need to unplug and be able to tell my boss when I am stressed and need help – not so I feel weak, but so I can be good to myself.”

In many ways, this is an effective summary of how we can all get better about managing stress in our lives and particularly in the workplace. There is no magic bullet, but with understanding, trust and open communication, real inroads can be made toward achieving more sustainable and healthy levels of stress.

Chalkboard with the words, mind, body and soul equals you.

Mind, Body, Soul: Compassionately Confronting Mental and Emotional Health in the Workplace

Few would dispute that there is a mental health crisis in our society. One in five Americans live with a mental health condition, which amounts to nearly 50 million people.[i] But perhaps even more disturbing is that mental health remains heavily stigmatized – despite these statistics. A lack of compassion for mental and emotional health disorders can have serious downstream effects. Sufferers are much less inclined to seek out treatment even if the condition is treatable like depression and anxiety.

In recognition of these societal realities, Alliant National recently conducted a “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative. Led by Stacy Stolen, Alliant National’s HR Manager, the program seeks to address the full spectrum of employee needs, while pushing back on mental health stigmas and promoting inclusive conversations at Alliant National. The results were, and continue to be, quite positive.

Mind, Body, Soul – The Six Dimensions of Health

Stolen says the “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative highlights and addresses six dimensions of employee health:

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Career
  • Community

Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t this program geared toward mental health?” It’s a fair question, but the truth is all aspects of health are interrelated. Physical, social, economic and career circumstances will impact mental and emotional well-being. By discussing the different pillars that contribute to wellness, it makes it easier to act and begin healing, Stolen says.

Whether that be finding programs to help deal with difficult emotions or making changes around the workplace to promote mental health and wellness, you must first have the right conception of the full spectrum of human needs. Only then can you start making changes to feel more healthy, supportive and whole.

Putting it Into Practice

While taking a granular approach to wellness is important, it must also be paired with action. “Mind, Body, Soul” also promotes different actions employees can take to nurture their well-being:

  • Take breaks: The restorative power of a break is not to be underestimated. Whether you decide to walk your dog or do a 10-minute yoga video, a periodic break can reduce stress and improve productivity.
  • Take time off: Employees should be encouraged to take their allotted time off. Stolen said it is sometimes hard to remember that the world will not fall apart if you take time off, even if it can be tempting to think so. That’s a common misperception in our society, as statistics show that more than half of all workers do not take the time to which they are entitled.[ii]
  • Set boundaries: Setting boundaries between your workday and your personal time can help avoid burnout. It’s a mistake to discount the importance of taking time for yourself, as well as your family and friends.
  • Lunch-and-Learns: Stolen noted that “Lunch-and-Learns” are a great way to help teams connect and collaborate.Alliant National hosts lunch and learns featuring guest speakers, and employees have a chance to check in with one another – both as people and professionals.
  • Health Resources: Companies looking to promote employee wellbeing may also consider potential vendor resources. Modern Health is Alliant National’s employee welfare platform. Employees can listen to community sessions led by therapists and coaches and ask questions in real time.

How Did the Alliant National Team Respond?

Reflecting on the initiative, Stolen was struck by the amount of positive feedback received from Alliant National team members: “We heard from many employees that they were surprised that we ‘cared’ enough to focus on [‘Mind, Body, Soul’] versus bottom line numbers.”

Similarly, she was taken aback by how quickly Alliant National personnel began reaching out to leverage resources made available to them through their employee status. “I received many phone calls asking for help or advice. The calls included everything from asking where our Employee Assistance (EAP) is located, to inquiring about how to best approach a conversation with a supervisor, to requesting help with navigating health care plans,” Stolen says. “I think it speaks to the fact that we are creating a safe space for people to have inclusive conversations and address their psychological needs. Historically, mental and emotional health is a hard topic for employees to comfortably discuss.”

A Larger Trend and a Personal Mission

Initiatives like “Mind, Body, Soul” did not develop in a vacuum. Instead, they reflect long-running trends in the HR field and the workforce more generally – especially following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the remote work era. “The workforce has changed significantly,” Stolen says. “Employees are demanding that their companies take a more holistic approach to wellness, and I agree!”

It’s also important to note that supporting the entirety of every employee’s needs is not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense. “If we do not treat the employee as a three-dimensional being whose needs encompass six distinct categories, we will not recruit and retain top talent,” Stolen says. “Employers not only need to create a workplace that offers growth and opportunity, but one that nourishes the employee in mind, body and spirit.”

For Stolen, “Mind, Body, Soul” is also personal. “To me, HR means ‘Human and Resourceful.’ I aspire to serve all employees at all levels of their being,” she said. “Employees need to be able to embody their entire selves at work – which naturally means creating an environment that’s diverse and inclusive. A healthy and happy employee is an engaged and productive one.”

Interested in discussing employee well-being strategies for your organization? Reach out to Stacy – sstolen@alliantnational.com


[i] Mental Health Awareness Month – 2022 – District Health Department 10 (dhd10.org)

[ii] 23 Astounding PTO Statistics in 2022 – What To Become

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