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Belonging: Why does it matter and how can we grow it?

One theme of organisational life that has a heightened emphasis post-covid is the concept of belonging. Belonging refers to a deep sense of connection, acceptance, and inclusion within an organization. It encompasses the feeling of being valued, understood, and supported by others who share a common identity, purpose, or set of values. As a feeling goes beyond mere affiliation or membership; it involves feeling a genuine sense of attachment and connectedness to people, culture, and environment. In today's business it is essential for several reasons:

  • A sense of belonging fulfills our inherent need for social connection and enhances our psychological well-being.

  • When individuals feel a sense of belonging, they experience greater happiness, lower stress levels, improved self-esteem, and overall better mental health, all of which are linked to increased engagement and productivity in the workplace.

  • When people feel like they belong, they are more motivated, committed, and satisfied with their jobs.

  • When people have a strong sense of belonging, their collaboration and teamwork are also strengthened, as individuals communicate openly, trust one another, and work effectively together.

  • Additionally, a strong sense of belonging promotes employee retention and loyalty, reducing turnover costs and fostering a positive organizational culture.

  • Belonging has strong connections with diversity and inclusion, as it encourages individuals from diverse backgrounds to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

  • Businesses that prioritise belonging enhance reputation and appear as attractive workspaces for top talent and strong stakeholder relationships.

So how do we achieve it?

A card with the concept of belonging showing a diagram of connected people
Cultivating a sense of belonging allows people to be at their best

To foster a culture of belonging consider:


  • Cultivating a work environment that values diversity, promotes inclusion and respect, and encourages collaboration. Establish clear values and expectations that emphasize this focus and ensure they are communicated consistently at all levels.

  • Encouraging open communication: Create channels and opportunities for open dialogue and feedback. Actively listen to employees' opinions, ideas, and concerns, and demonstrate that their voices are valued and respected. Use open forums, workgroups and reverse mentoring to allow more voices to be heard. Encourage transparent communication at all levels.

  • Providing growth and development opportunities: Support employees' professional growth by offering training, mentorship programs, and opportunities for advancement. Help individuals develop wider life skills, explore new ideas, and pursue their career aspirations within the organization.

  • Recognising and celebrating achievements: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate individual and team achievements. Provide recognition and rewards that are meaningful and aligned with employees' contributions. This fosters a sense of appreciation, value, and pride.

  • Fostering social connections: Create opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level. Encourage team-building activities, social events, and initiatives that facilitate relationship-building and create a sense of community within the organization.

  • Leading by example: Leaders play a crucial role in shaping the sense of belonging within a business. Model inclusive behaviors, demonstrate empathy, and actively promote a culture of belonging. Encourage managers and supervisors to do the same and provide them with the necessary training and resources to effectively lead and support their teams.

Nick

June 2023

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