How to Develop a Sense of Belonging at Work

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Employees who feel a sense of belonging are more engaged and productive. This directly impacts the business, boosting job performance by 56 percent, reducing turnover risk by 50 percent, and reducing sick days by 75 percent. In a company of 10,000, these savings could amount to $52 million a year! So how can employers create a sense of belonging for their employees?

Creating a culture of inclusion

Creating a culture of inclusion at work requires more than policy and the actual representation of different groups. Everyone in the organization must actively support the culture, from management to employees. In addition, leadership must set a good example and show that they value diversity and inclusion. Create an employee involvement council. Make sure you include all employees in the decision-making process.

Identify key stakeholders who are passionate about diversity and inclusion. If your company’s leadership is not passionate about inclusion, consider collaborating with your managers to create a more diverse culture. First, find out which key stakeholders will influence the culture most. You might want to involve them from the very beginning. Then, work with them to determine the best way to make it work. After all, their opinions are essential to everyone in the organization.

Coaching employees to feel a sense of belonging

Research has shown that fostering a sense of belonging in your workplace can increase employee performance and lower sick days. The benefits of coaching employees to feel like they belong to the company are huge and go beyond the personal satisfaction these positive feelings bring. Companies that create an environment where everyone feels like they belong can save up to $52 million annually in lost productivity and sick days. First, understand what a sense of belonging means. Employees feel uncomfortable when they do not feel like they belong in a workplace. They know they do not fit in. However, a sense of belonging is vital for productivity and performance. To foster a sense of belonging, you should prioritize it in your organization. 

Inclusion initiatives

A successful inclusion initiative requires the participation of the entire organization. Therefore, leaders must actively encourage inclusion. Employees who feel left out may not feel included in the organization. However, those who do not feel excluded may think they do not represent the organization’s values. By creating an inclusive workplace, leaders will increase the likelihood that employees will speak out and demand fair treatment. Therefore, inclusion initiatives should be embraced and prioritized by the C-suite.

To foster a sense of belonging, companies should focus on diversity in team-building and diversity in events. In addition, inclusion initiatives can boost employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Miguel Castro, SAP’s senior director of diversity and inclusion, explained, “When we make employees feel like they belong, people will feel more engaged and productive.”

Creating a shared vision for the organization

To develop a sense of belonging is rooted in pride. Providing employees with a grand vision of the organization’s future can help them feel a sense of belonging and pride in their work. A shared vision makes employees feel connected to the business and makes their work meaningful and fulfilling. Creating a culture of belonging takes time, but if implemented correctly will reward employees with a sense of purpose.

Employees feel more confident in their jobs when they can express their authentic selves. One of the best ways to foster this is to create an environment where employees are encouraged to be themselves. The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For has policies that encourage workers to be open about their identity and express it freely. However, only 64% of organizations encourage their employees to be themselves. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of being different, organizations should celebrate the strengths of diverse employees. LGBTQIA+ workers should feel comfortable “saying” they are gay, for example, and should be allowed to work with employee resource groups.

My Life, I Guess is a personal finance and career blog by Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and older millennial from Ontario, Canada that strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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