A sense of belonging can be an incredible force in the workplace. It creates community and encourages better collaboration between people. It’s also a big driver of employee retention, boosts productivity, and produces great business results. Not surprisingly, fostering belonging in your company is one of the most valuable things you can do.
People who say they have a sense of belonging feel connected to their work and workplace. That’s essential, not just at work, but in life itself. In fact, it’s so important that pioneering social psychologist Dr. Abraham Maslow ranks belonging as third in his Hierarchy of Needs for human satisfaction and fulfilment. Neuroscience has even found that social needs are managed by the same neural networks as primary survival needs such as food and water.
The bottom line is that individuals need to feel that they fit in, that they are valued, that they have purpose and a common bond, and that they are connected to their co-workers. When they do, great things can happen. The question, of course, is how do you foster that sense of belonging at work?
Let’s take a look at six easy things that you can do:
- Show employees that their work has meaning
For employees to truly belong, they first need to have a sense of purpose. Working just for the sake of working with no sense of meaning can be depressing and leave employees feeling disconnected. When people know what they do matters and that it makes a difference, they’re more likely to feel connected to their organization and committed to the company and their co-workers. Managers should make sure the link between what an employee does and the bigger picture is clear and valued, so that their people feel a true sense of purpose.
- Set team goals
When people operate as part of a team and work toward a common goal, they build each other up and support one another. Good collaboration happens when you set goals for the team as a whole, and successful collaboration builds connections between individuals. Set goals that encourage people to work as a team so they can flourish together.
- Recognize results
It’s important to acknowledge and recognize both individual and group achievements. Group successes should be publicized so that the rest of the workforce knows what has been achieved. Encourage management to acknowledge how these successes feed into the bigger picture of the organization’s goals and mission. Recognition is a powerful motivator and fosters an important emotional connection to the work, the team, and the company.
- Solicit input
Inclusiveness happens when people are asked to contribute. When they feel their opinions matter, and can actually make a difference, they feel like they’re a part of things. When workplace leaders hold meetings, they should invite team members and ask for their opinions. Soliciting input and having it acted upon gives employees a sense of ownership and an investment in the performance of their organization. This gives them a sense of belonging and encourages them to stay.
- Encourage camaraderie at work
Work may be a place to get things done, but we spend so much time in our workplaces, it only makes sense that we enjoy it as much as we can. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging camaraderie and a bit of fun now and again. Managers can encourage people to connect through in- and out-of-work events, such as celebrating birthdays, monthly team lunches, group volunteering events, and employer-subsidized activities. Fostering a positive workplace culture can pay enormous dividends, so it’s well worth investing the time in getting everyone on board.
- Celebrate successes together
Celebrating successes, such as hitting targets, reaching goals, and landing new clients, as a group can foster strong bonds within a team or department. It gives the employees the chance to reflect on their teamwork, and appreciate what they have achieved together. Take the time to bring people together to enjoy their collective success.
Belonging is better for business
There’s no doubt belonging is a powerful motivator for employees in the workplace. It’s not hard or expensive to do. And by nurturing this sense in the people who work for your organization, you can achieve great things. Helping ensure that everyone feels like they belong in your work culture is a great way to help ensure your company’s overall success.
What techniques have you used to try to ensure your employees have a strong sense of belonging?