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How to Build a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

How to build a sense of belonging in the workplace

Just like we all need food, shelter, and water – we all humans have a  basic need to belong where we are. In childhood, we spend most of our time in school among our peers and they provide us with a sense of belonging. As adults, most of our time goes to the office whether remote or not. So, we derive our sense of belonging from the place we are working in.

In research done by Microsoft, 60% of remote employees said that they feel less connected during the pandemic. This number is not shocking considering that remote work kept us all apart for a long time and we were not ready for it. Such a situation affects employees and can make them isolated as well as reflects in their bad performance, lack of job satisfaction, and higher turnover rates.

Creating a sense of belonging in the workplace helps to avoid all this. You can provide your employees with better job satisfaction, and make them part of a team that stays with you for a long time.

Why Building a Sense of Belonging Is Important

Confident and High Performing Employees

A sense of belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance

When your employees get a sense of belonging, they become more comfortable and proud of where they work. This gives them confidence that reflects in both work and personal life.

When employees feel confident about their work, they go the extra mile. It also increases employee engagement and retention because the work they are doing becomes meaningful for them. This increment in performance helps the company’s profits and also pushes others to give their best.

Better Mental Health and Job Satisfaction

Employees who experience “low belonging” were four times more likely to feel stalled in their careers

As we just mentioned that a sense of belonging is a need not just a want. When it’s not provided, it creates actual physical and psychological pain. This can disrupt the mental health of your employees and drop their performance.

So, it’s important for them to feel a part of your organization. If they feel stalled in their career, they will be restless at work and lack job satisfaction. This will increase the chance of them leaving the company and you will have a hard time retaining talent.

Increase In Collaboration

Earlier, the important resource for an organization was labor and materials. The system was competitive because labor was replaceable and materials were scarce. In the information age though, priority resources are software, attention, and data. It needs a more collaborative approach than a competitive one to thrive in those departments.

Creating a sense of belonging makes it easier to collaborate in a workplace for the smooth functioning of any organization. It becomes easier to ask for help, learn from each other, and complete complex projects. This will help you achieve your goals faster as an organization.

Ways To Build a Sense of Belonging At Work

To build a sense of belonging, we have to first understand the underlying elements behind what makes someone belong somewhere. According to Coqual, a sense of belonging is created by being seen, connected, supported, and proud. Here are some ways you can follow to create a sense of belonging that adheres to the given framework:

Comprehensive and Welcoming Onboarding

The process of creating a belonging culture starts as soon as someone joins your organization. Many of these people are even joining the workforce for the first time. By giving them a welcoming onboarding, you can keep them for a long time.

A comfortable onboarding makes the new employee seen, and comfortable in the organization. They feel like they are becoming a part of something, and not just here to complete tasks. It makes them feel an equal level of respect from their colleagues right from the first day.

Rewards and Recognition

When employees are appreciated for their efforts, they feel seen and supported. So, make it easy for employees to appreciate each other even for small help. Doing it publicly will be even better for them. You can also provide people with rewards for the same. It is something tangible that will be remembered by them for a long time. It will also keep them motivated to give their best in every project.

Here are some employee rewards and recognition ideas you can try in your organization.

Build Connections

Building connections is the most important part of creating a feeling of belonging somewhere. You don’t play games or go to cafes because you want to but it is a place where your friends hang out.

Similarly, building connections in the workplace gives you a reason for you to look forward to work. You are not there just to complete tasks but to help your friends out. You will be more likely to go to work and will be much more satisfied as you are getting to hang out with them while working. It builds a more inclusive workplace to thrive in.

Role Of Managers

Inclusive leaders are 2.5x more likely to have employees who feel like they belong

Managers play an important role in bringing out the best in employees. They are not just creating a sense of belonging for one but for their whole team. There are many ways for them to build inclusion in the workplace:

  1. They can empower team members by appreciating them at the right time and manner. 
  2. Constant communication can also help their team feel seen and supported. This can be accomplished by regular honest feedback and one-on-one if possible.
  3. By responding to the concerns put forward by their team members diligently. It will make sure they feel heard and get their problems resolved as well.
  4. They can make employees seen by making them a part of decisions. It will not only bring diverse opinions but also give them a voice in the organization.

Peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition contributes greatly to building a sense of belonging. When you are recognized by your peers, you feel like you are one of them. It becomes beneficial when you just join the organization as it makes you feel seen and supported. You feel like you always have help around even if you are falling short.

You may or may not interact with your manager on a daily basis but you are going to work with your teammates on a regular basis. Having a sense of belonging also makes collaboration easier between everyone for a strong reliable team.

Shared Vision

A shared vision is an essential part of building a belonging for your employees. If the employees don’t align with what you do or believe in your vision as an organization then they won’t be proud of themselves or the organization. There will always be conflict in his mind and dissatisfaction. In such a situation, they won’t be able to work to their fullest.

So, it becomes really important for you to align them with goals and visions. Once they are aligned and see themselves working towards it, they will be proud of the work they are doing. Being proud of your organization is one of the factors in creating a sense of belonging.

EngageWith Rewards And Recognition

EngageWith Rewards and Recognition is a Slack and Microsoft Teams tool that helps your employees in building a sense of belonging. It makes it easier for employees to be seen, connected, supported, and proud.

Adding EngageWith to your workspace can help you with:

Increase Employee Engagement And Productivity

EngageWith makes it accessible to recognize someone in the organization. Not only does it keep the employees engaged but makes them more productive as well. Their efforts are recognized instantly which makes them motivated to work and the points collected from this recognition can be converted into actual tangible rewards as well.

Make Employees Seen Everyday

Due to its accessibility, peer recognition through EnagageWith will become a part of your daily culture. So, employees don’t have to wait for projects to complete or for something big to happen for them to be seen. Even their small efforts by them are appreciated on a regular basis.

Build a culture of recognition here with EngageWith

Be Proud of the Company’s Value

EngageWith lets you choose the values shown by your colleagues when appreciating. So employees reinforce the values of the company with every recognition that keeps the values strong and also makes the employee proud of it.

Conclusion

After the pandemic, employees realized that work makes an important part of their life. They are re-evaluating what it means for them to work in an organization. They are not just looking for a job, but a place where they can make a difference.

A sense of belonging is important for them to make an impact. If they feel they don’t belong they won’t be able to make an impact and ultimately they will contribute to high turnover rates. An organization needs to understand this and adapt to this new workforce that’s entering the workplace. Those who will adapt will create an example of a great organization and retain the best of their talents.

FAQ

How do you develop a sense of belonging?

To develop a sense of beloging at workplace, you have to make sure that employee are seen, supported, connected and are proud of what they do. Once you can design your workspace, onboarding, employee recognition aligned with these four goals, you will be succesful in building a sense of belonging.

What does sense of belonging mean in the workplace?

Sense of belonging can mean different things to different people. In a workspace, sense of belonging can be a combination of support, acceptance, inclusion, and security in the organization you are working in.

How do you create a culture of inclusion and belonging at work?

A culture of inclusion and belonging in any organization is fostered by understanding the fact that it is a basic human need. It also benefits the company when inclusion leads to diverse opinion and also push employees to work better. You have to make your employees seen and recognized enough and help them become a part of team for better inclusion and belonging.

Tushar Tayal

Marketing Intern at Springworks || Writing content for B2B SaaS and web3 businesses || A podcast host interested in psychology and philosophy.

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