Our desire to belong is innate and valid. A greater sense of belonging aids in retention, well-being, burnout prevention and more. Employers need to do a better job of creating a sense of belonging at work for all their employees, especially in the post-pandemic world. Two experts share their first-hand thoughts on the matter.
here’s something brilliant and liberating about being able to bring our most authentic selves to work every day. It gives us a little extra push to get out of bed in the morning, put our best foot forward and truly feel like we belong within our workplace and among coworkers.
On the other hand, working in an environment where you’re constantly on edge and uncomfortable is a surefire path to imminent resignation, desperate job searching and potential resentment.
And while work shouldn’t be the center of our universe, it certainly doesn’t hurt to find some sense of enjoyment in what we do and where we do it … if we’re able to.
That’s exactly why creating a sense of belonging at work is necessary for any organization or employer hoping to promote a more positive workplace and attract phenomenal talent.
The pandemic and Great Resignation gave current employees and job seekers the power of choice and leverage. As professionals, we no longer have to settle. We can be pickier about where we take our skills, time and, ultimately, ourselves.
“Every organization needs to understand that workers today are looking at their relationships with their employers differently. In turn, you should look at your relationship with your employees and your positioning in the marketplace,” he wrote.
Why people want a sense of belonging
Employees and job seekers do better when they feel as if they belong. They want to see an actual future at their place of work and are no longer only satisfied with perks or benefits
“Humans inherently want a community and a sense of belonging. They want to know that they are surrounded by other humans working toward similar goals; whether those goals be success for a client, a positive culture, growing talent, etc,” she says.
“More specifically, Millennials and Gen Z-ers desire even more so to be more than just a ‘cog in the system.’ They want to know that their work is impactful and that it is contributing to a greater purpose.”
Wendholt says a great way for companies and employers to clearly demonstrate the impact a prospective employee will make within the company (or community) is through their website, career pages and during interviews.
Creating a sense of belonging at work
As you begin your move towards creating a sense of belonging for all employees within your workforce, remember that every industry, employee and organization is different.
The tips provided by our experts are not “one size fits all” and may not apply to your workforce. As a company or leader, it’s your responsibility to do the research, gather employee feedback and examine what belonging looks like within your particular organization.
“Building a culture that nurtures a sense of belonging for all means understanding how different employees experience your culture,” warns Robinson. “Are women having a different cultural experience at your company than men? Do Black or Latinx employees report different levels of engagement, inclusion, or trust?”
Designing a culture without knowing the answers to questions like these will always produce lackluster results and always leave some people out.”
I asked our two experts to share some tips for creating a sense of belonging within your workplace. Their advice is summarized below:
- Create ample opportunities for bonding & belonging: try Slack, buddy meetings, all company meetings, virtual happy hours, etc.
- Invest in long term solutions, beyond pandemic “quick fixes” (Zoom burnout is real)
- Gather employee insight and feedback (see what’s working and what needs to change)
- Include all employees (remote, hybrid or in-person)
- Don’t force opportunities for bonding & belonging
- Be genuine & authentic
- Hire the right people