John Baldoni, for Forbes, wrote: “Fostering a sense of belonging may be one of a leader’s most powerful levers. Appropriately used it elevates the nature of work with a sense of purpose that brings people together for a common cause and encourages them to bond with one another in the work they do.”
He further clarifies that belonging connotes ownership. You belong therefore you own — not property but something albeit less tangible, but more meaningful. You own responsibility. You have a sense of autonomy and agency that enables you to act for the good of the organisation. Not because you have to, but because you want to!
Fostering a culture of inclusivity leads to a more engaged, motivated and positive workforce. Employees who are encouraged to engage are more likely to come up with unique ideas and experiences, which drives innovation and profitability, giving companies a competitive advantage – but only if they feel a sense of belonging.
To feel a sense of belonging is to feel secure, supported, accepted and included. Here are six ways to create a sense of belonging in the workplace.
1. Talk about it
Emotional connections strengthen a sense of belonging. Encourage discussions that break down interpersonal barriers manifested by individuals as a lack of diversity, respect or inclusiveness. Most of the time, these barriers exist because people don’t have a deep enough understanding of whom they work with; what motivates and inspires them, what their ambitions are, and what their life is like outside of work.
Giving your staff a voice makes them feel like they have a say in important decisions that impact their lives.
2. Share the vision
It is essential to establish a company vision that everyone shares. Equally important, employees must understand why it’s important to the organisation and how they fit into it and what role they are expected to play in it. This allows each individual to feel as though they are making a real contribution to the culture and heart of the business.
3. Take stock
Much the same as measuring business performance and identifying areas to improve, creating a sense of belonging requires regular monitoring. Regular engagement surveys of employees often indicate where a business needs to focus its efforts. Once you have the data, have the courage to not just ask questions, but ask the right questions – no matter how uncomfortable they may be.
4. Establish mentoring initiatives
Mentoring initiatives, whether formal or informal, are especially beneficial to groups of people who often feel a sense of exclusion. Add learning and development as a key component of inclusion and broader company values in order to not stunt employee growth or limit innovation.
5. Promote collaboration
To be proactive about inclusion requires re-focusing on a sense of belonging by establishing a more diverse and inclusive workplace. When teams feel a sense of belonging and work together in what they deem to be a safe space, they’re able to tap into and take advantage of the strengths and abilities of every member of the team. Collaboration is key to the success of your business and a huge piece of inclusion in the workplace.
Get more insights on the benefits of building a collaborative team.