Set the Right Foundations: What is Belonging in the Workplace? 

You may be increasingly worried about employees leaving their jobs, wondering if your own team feels like they should quit too. You have done what you can to make them feel included, but do they feel like they belong?

Improve your work culture by cultivating a sense of belongingness. Here are the things you need to know.

The Great Resignation: What’s Causing It 

A McKinsey survey on the Great Attrition justified employers’ concern about workplace connectivity.

  • Fifty-four percent of employees who left their jobs did not feel valued by their company.
  • Fifty-two percent didn’t feel valued by their managers.
  • Fifty-one percent said that they didn’t feel a sense of belongingness.
  • Forty-six percent said they would like to work with people who care for and trust each other.

 

This is proof that employees are looking for strong relationships with their leaders and colleagues so that they may feel connected and seen. Yes, leaders recognize these issues related to their company culture, but their responses aren’t really addressing the problems.

According to Mckinsey, around 52 percent of leaders want four to five days of on-site work schedule to promote connection and collaboration. However, this may not always be the case. This may backfire without other significant actions to go with it. The needs of employees have shifted throughout the past years, and employers need to shift their approach to address them properly.¹

Defining Belongingness in the Workplace 

Belongingness is when employees feel that their unique personalities and attributes are accepted and treasured by the people around them. It’s a buildup of daily experiences that empowers a person to feel safe as they bring their authentic selves to work.

However, this is not limited to feeling appreciated for what a person can do or the role they play in their jobs. It runs deeper, and it’s actually closer to diversity and inclusion. People who feel like they are part of a team and are encouraged to keep their unique traits in front of others feel a high level of belonging. This means valuing various qualities such as identity, race, disability, and sexual orientation.

An example of diversity is being invited to a party. But inclusion takes this to another level by encouraging guests to dance however they want and as creatively as they want because they were given the freedom to be true to themselves and dance how they want.

The Harmful Effect of Exclusion 

Exclusion can lead to self-sabotage which may eventually affect the team a person is a part of. Harvard Business Review’s study revealed that exclusion is a systemic issue that can lead to financial losses.² To address the issue, they conducted a series of experiments. Here’s how it went:

Employees were asked to play a virtual toss game. Each was assigned to a team with bots programmed to play the role of their teammates. Included employees had teammates that consistently threw the ball in their direction. Meanwhile, the excluded workers only received the ball a few times.

After this experiment, participants were given the task of earning money for themselves or their whole team. The longer they persevered in the activity, the more money they collected.

When the participants were informed that the payouts would be divided with their teammates, the excluded people gave less effort than the included people even though it meant fewer earnings. When people were told that the payouts were for them alone, excluded members worked as much as the included ones.

These experiments implied that people would participate less when they are excluded from work. This is because they may feel that their efforts are unnecessary and aren’t valued as much as others.

The Importance of Belonging 

Belonging in the workplace can affect the performance and results of your team members, making it vital to allow people to bring their whole selves to work. If employees feel excluded, it may lead to insecurity. They may feel trapped and can’t be true to themselves. This can affect their creativity and willingness to participate with others.

Great Place to Work’s research revealed that employees who feel that they belong are three times more likely to say they enjoy their workplace, three times more likely to look forward to going to work, nine times more likely to believe people are fairly treated regardless of their race, and five times more likely to want to stay at their company longer.³

This is why working with a staffing agency that values belongingness is key. With a retention rate that is twice the national average for staffing agencies, we at Peak Performers can help you perform to your fullest potential.

Building Belongingness for Your Employees 

To make your employees feel included, here are the things you can do as an employer and leader.

1. Maintain neutrality and equality.

Leaders and employers should treat each of their members fairly and without bias. This means you have to avoid any act of favoritism to create a workplace culture that allows everyone to feel respected and valued. While there will always be preferences, as this is just human nature, you can work your way around it and create a more inclusive environment around you.

You can express fairness by training your members as a team. If you think one needs to work on a skill and be taught, involve everyone. Another way is to ensure that every employee receives the same treatment toward career growth. If one is moving forward, others also need to see a path toward greater success. Ultimately, it’s all about not letting anyone get left behind.

2. Casually check in on your employees.

One of the best ways to make people feel included is to check in on them. Be casual about it. There are times when you have to drop the agenda-driven conversations to simply connect. You can do it in person during lunch or via call if you work remotely.

You can even do it randomly in the day when you meet them in the hallway or elevator. For remote work, you can send a short message. Simply ask how they’re doing and start a conversation.

Showing interest in a person’s well-being tells them that you care about them and want them to be okay at work.

Related Articles: Engaging and Remote Workforce 

3. Make business decisions with your employees.

Involving your employees in business decisions shows that their ideas and opinions matter to you and the company. When you ask them what they think is best, it makes them feel like they are contributing to the company’s success.

For example, if the company is struggling, inform your members and ask for their suggestions. They may have answers to resolve the issues you are facing. Do it together and see what you can do as a team.

Encouraging them to speak up allows them to provide more meaningful input. In turn, it lets them appreciate their contributions and efforts. It also provides the company with out-of-the-box ideas that may have been overlooked.

4. Communicate transparently.

Open communication motivates employees to deliver more. When everyone knows and has access to the same information, people are on the same page.

  • If there are concerns within the company, they might be able to provide meaningful solutions.
  • If there are safety concerns, give them the assurance that everything is being taken care of.
  • If there are new protocols and processes, let them have access to resources so that they can easily follow them.

 

Being transparent goes beyond letting everyone know everything happening within the organization. It shows that you care about their well-being and you’re not keeping them in the dark for any reason.

5. Make promotions fair.

Promotions are a company’s chance to showcase its values. Ensure everyone has equal advancement opportunities by creating a transparent and fair promotion process. Make sure that minority groups get their well-deserved rewards and promotions and that no prejudices might overlook their skills and experiences.

Aside from salary, promotions represent career growth. When people are promoted, it tells them that the company values their contribution, allowing them to appreciate their jobs and put more effort into their tasks.

6. Recognize each person’s accomplishments.

Celebrate the milestones and achievements of your employees, no matter how big or small they are. Creating an atmosphere of recognition can give everyone a sense of community and show your people that their efforts and contributions are valued.

You can express recognition through announcements via email or your social media pages. You can also treat everyone to lunch to celebrate together a person’s success. Here at Peak Performers, we have both employee of the month and the year program, ensuring to reward the efforts of those who have exceptional contributions from time to time.

Another way to show appreciation is by remembering their contributions and what they’re good at. Remember what they did best before, and when the time to take charge of a project comes up, ask specific people to lead. It lets them know that you trust their skills and judgment.

7. Be welcoming to new employees.

Employee well-being should be showcased from day one. Make new employees feel that they belong through meaningful onboarding. Introduce them to their new colleagues and involve them in team activities.

Imagine inviting visitors to your home, yet no one talks to them while common friends and family mingle. This is how employees would feel without being adequately welcomed by the team.

You can onboard them properly by letting them meet everyone on the team and the key people in the organization. Prepare resource materials that’ll provide insight into what they need to do and some company details regarding its background, history, values, and processes.

Foster Belongingness to Improve the Employee Experience. 

When there’s a culture of inclusivity that embraces unique individuals from diverse backgrounds, employees tend to strive better in their jobs. When they feel accepted and supported by their leaders and colleagues, it gives them a feeling of satisfaction that propels them to be more engaged in the company.

Belongingness is one way you can create a positive and productive workplace. When your team members feel included, it’s not just them who benefit but the company as a whole.

FORM A TEAM OF UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS WITH THE HELP OF PEAK PERFORMERS

If you’re looking to hire more diversely, Peak Performers can connect you with talented individuals with disabilities. Let them show you what they can do.

We have employed 14,000 people and counting in our 28 years in the business. We regularly fill openings in accounting and finance, information technology, and office or professional jobs, and if you have hiring needs, get in touch with us today.

References 

1. De Smet, Aaron, et al. “It’s not about the office, it’s about belonging.” McKinsey & Company, 13 Jan. 2022, https://www.mckinsey.com/its-not-about-the-office-its-about-belonging.

2. Carr, Evan W., et al. “The Value of Belonging at Work.” Harvard Business Review, 16 Dec. 2019, https://hbr.org/2019/12/the-value-of-belonging-at-work.

3. Bond, Tony. “Belonging in the Workplace: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?” Great Place to Work, 16 Jun. 2022, https://www.greatplacetowork.com/belonging-in-the-workplace.