In the modern workplace, fostering a sense of belonging among employees is critical to their satisfaction, engagement, and retention. This sentiment is highlighted in the American Psychological Association's (APA) 2023 Work in America Survey, which surveyed 2,515 employed U.S. adults. The survey reveals that feeling connected and part of a community is one of the five essential factors for workers' psychological health and well-being, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
To create a sense of belonging, many organizations have focused on promoting inclusion, equity, and diversity. While these elements are closely related, they fall under the umbrella of belonging. Belonging at work is about creating an environment where employees feel comfortable, valued, and supported to express themselves and be their authentic selves.
Unfortunately, the sense of belonging is lacking in many workplaces, affecting various groups of employees. The APA survey reveals that workers in customer/client/patient service, Black and Hispanic Americans, front-line workers, office workers, manual laborers, and even fully in-person workers have experienced feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Nate Thompson of The Disrupted Workforce highlights that belonging is not confined to physical office spaces. It's about daily behaviors that communicate care, support, and recognition. The Great Resignation has disrupted traditional workplace friendships and connections, contributing to a sense of isolation among employees.
Deutser points out that there is a "moveable middle" of employees whose potential and contributions often go unnoticed. HR professionals and leaders have a role in engaging and empowering these workers, addressing the factors that impede their sense of belonging.
Creating a culture of belonging involves encouraging employees to share their perspectives and ideas, be authentic without fear of consequences, and develop meaningful relationships with colleagues. During the pandemic, organizations made efforts to promote belonging, but now, with various work arrangements such as in-person, hybrid, and remote, a rehabilitation effort is required.
To foster belonging in the post-pandemic workplace, leaders can take several steps, including being physically present with open office hours, offering well-being and wellness programs without stigma, and providing opportunities for organic collaboration. Frequent, distraction-free check-ins with employees are also crucial, allowing leaders to connect with their teams on a personal level, listen to their concerns, and express gratitude and appreciation.
Creating a sense of belonging in the workplace is essential for employee well-being and overall organizational success. It goes beyond just physical presence and requires ongoing efforts to connect, support, and value each team member, ensuring they feel comfortable and appreciated in their work environment. In addition to recognizing the importance of fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace, it's crucial for companies and Executive Leadership Teams (ELTs) to prioritize the development and training of their senior and mid-level manager groups. These key leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the organizational culture and influencing the daily behaviors that contribute to a sense of belonging among employees. By providing targeted training on how to create an inclusive and supportive environment, leaders can learn to recognize and address the unique challenges faced by different employee groups. This investment in development not only enhances the leaders' ability to foster connection but also contributes to the overall success of the organization by positively impacting attraction and retention outcomes.
White Label Advisors understands the significance of this often overlooked component in building successful workplace cultures. Through our awareness initiatives and perspective-driven approach, we aim to shed light on the importance of supporting leaders in creating environments where every team member feels a strong sense of belonging and connection. We offer comprehensive consulting services to help your organization create a more inclusive and supportive workplace. Contact us to learn how we can assist you in fostering a sense of belonging among your employees and driving overall success.