The Importance of Belonging

Searching for a sense of belonging is not only a natural instinct, but it is considered a basic human need. In fact, evolutionary psychology shows that the desire to belong is hardwired into the DNA of social animals, and cognitive psychologists explain that social rejection leads to the same neural and physiological patters as physical pain.

While this information alone gets the point across about how important belonging is to humans, a recent study conducted by BetterUp, “The Value of Belonging at Work,” set out to discover the importance of belonging in the workplace. BetterUp researchers surveyed 1,789 full-time employees across a diverse set of industries to find out how a sense of belonging impacted the workplace. Key insights from this study found that employees who feel like they belong in the workplace demonstrate a:

  • 50% reduction in turnover risk
  • 56% increase in performance
  • 75% decrease in employee sick days

In addition, the study found that when employees have a sense of belonging, they are 167% more likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work. Productivity also has a drastic increase. For example, if all employees at a 10,000 employee organization felt like they belonged there, the organization would see an annual gain of over $52,000,000 from boosts in productivity.

How to Foster a Sense of Belonging

Despite all the data above, “The Value of Belonging at Work,” found that many employers are falling short when it comes to creating an inclusive culture. To help you foster a sense of belonging in your workplace, here are three easy tips from Inc.

  • Encourage Interactions Across Teams: Employees spend a lot of time with their direct team members, but they often don’t know their other colleagues very well. Adam Robinson, Co-founder and CEO of Hireology, explains that he introduces new team members in front of the whole office during weekly huddles and he has selected team members who have lunch with new employees and help them learn about the company culture. You can also encourage employees to walk to each other’s offices or desks to communicate in person rather than over the phone or email. Team building events are also great idea, specially when you mix up team members each event!
  • Recognize Employees’ Hard Work: Lack of recognition or feedback can make employees feel like they don’t belong. In a previous article, we went over the importance of recognition and how it not only improves an employee’s sense of belonging, but also improves engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. It doesn’t always have to be public recognition or include a reward, simply stopping by an employee’s office or desk and recognizing a job well done or a quickly completed task can make all the difference.
  • Collect and Act On Feedback: One of the best ways to make employees feel like they belong and have an important role within the organization is to ask for their feedback and then act on it. Consider conducting a survey, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews where you ask employees what can be improved. While not all their ideas may be feasible, make sure to acknowledge their feedback and let them know what you are able to do.

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