Feeling like you belong is essential for people. According to psychologists, it rivals our need for love so you can see why it would be important to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace.
Building this atmosphere of belonging can come in all kinds of forms and different sources within the workplace but research has shown that they all boil down to 4 basic components.
Being recognised, respected, and rewarded for your contributions as an individual.
Employees should feel like their unique contributions are being seen and that they aren’t just a nameless cog in an uncaring machine. It goes a long way to recognise each employee and their own value as an individual rather than just focusing on the bottom line.
Managers should go out of their way to be responsive to their employees and each of their concerns. They should appreciate each of their employees’ contributions and value the impact that each one makes on their own. On top of this, they should empower those that they manage and encourage them to aim higher. This can come in the form of giving honest feedback or just general praise. Managers could even incorporate personality and value tools (such as DISC and MBTI) to get better insight into each of their employees.
The organisation could also praise the employees that are deemed to be role models. An employee of the month system or something similar can show that individual employees are being recognised and that their talents are valued at the company.
This is a more social aspect of aiding a sense of belonging. Genuine interactions between colleagues and higher-ups will encourage stronger connections between you all.
The first step to helping new employees feel connected would be the implementation of a well-organised introduction/orientation. Giving a tour and introducing them to other employees can go a long way to helping them feel welcomed and employees that feel more welcome tend to be more committed to their company, thus staying for the long term.
Furthermore, inclusivity is a must. Inclusion is an experience that has implications of being accepted and valued. People will naturally associate being included in projects (or the organisation as a whole) with being in a community surrounded by like-minded people. This usually leads to increased productivity and links back to them feeling more welcome.
However, “like-minded people” doesn’t mean that your employees should all be the same. Try to build a diverse team full of individuals from all types of backgrounds. This will build empathy (in turn, helping everyone connect) and a manager or senior leader should model this behaviour to show that employees can feel welcome in your organisation regardless of their backgrounds.
Employees shouldn’t feel alone in the organisation and the level of support they receive should reflect this. Are colleagues and managers providing what is needed to work efficiently and to lead a satisfactory work-life? How can an employee feel like they belong somewhere they aren’t being supported?
As previously stated, managers should be willing to give helpful feedback and colleagues should do the same for each other. Co-workers are likely to feel like they belong when their peers respect their commitments and when they receive feedback from them.
Communication is vital when it comes to supporting one another and it should be done respectfully.
Managers are crucial when it comes to support and this support can come in the forms of coaching, performance reviews, regular one-on-one meetings, and a few other ways. By showing that they are available and are willing to give time and resources to help their employees, that sense of support and belonging will strengthen.
Employees must be able to take pride in their work and the organisation they work for. You should take steps to express the core values, or the organisation and the values of employees should align with them. This is easier when your organisation is viewed in a good light from an ethical standpoint.
This last component also hinges on the successful integration of all the others. By showing that your company is supportive, inclusive, has morally just ethics, and is willing to praise the individuals that keep it afloat, employees will have more reasons to trust and be proud of the company.
After all, the Edelman study found that 60% of people choose to work for an employer that shares their values and beliefs. Employees want to work for an organisation that they can be proud of. This will lead to higher job satisfaction and with it, increased productivity, improved morale, and better performance in general.
The workplace is a big part of many people’s lives and as a result, it’s important that employees feel that they belong there. You can’t expect employees to stay in a place where they don’t feel like they are truly valued individuals. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of how you can better welcome employees to your organisation and help them feel like they belong.
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