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Belonging Levers: actions to drive belonging at work

Part two of the Belonging Blueprint

Updated on November 21, 2023

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Topics Covered:

Belonging and DEI

Rewards and recognition

Employees with a strong sense of belonging outperform the average employee on almost every metric that matters, from engagement and retention to performance and wellbeing. But how to you actually make meaningful change? In part two of the Belonging Blueprint, we’ve pulled together data on what drives belonging as well as practical advice on targeted practices to improve in specific areas.

In this part of this report, we dive into the practical tools, strategies, and data-driven insights necessary to make meaningful change within an organization. With belonging drivers, pillars, and buildings, these actionable toolkits are designed to help every HR and people leader drive lasting impact.

What is the Achievers Workforce Institute Belonging Model?

The AWI Belonging Model™ is a practical method of assessing and improving belonging at work. Based on academic research, the institute found five pillars of belonging: welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected. Each of these drives a 2x increase in likelihood of belonging at work.

Improving each pillar of belonging can triple the rate of belonging at work

How can I improve each pillar of belonging?

Improving the five pillars of belonging (welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected) can seem overwhelming. The key is to choose one at a time to focus on and to follow a process of identifying gaps and taking targeted action to address them. Start by choosing which pillar to focus on. This should include multiple information gathering tactics, from manager focus groups to employee feedback surveys. This will help find the biggest areas for improvement as well as potential low-hanging fruit.

A good starting point is the belonging pillar toolkits in this report. Divided into three levels of action, these toolkits outline what organizations, managers, and individuals can do to better support each pillar, increasing the experience of belonging for every employee.

Six tactics for increasing employee belonging

Looking at our four years of belonging data, we have found six organizational tactics for increasing belonging at every level.

1. Compensation and benefits

Fair pay and targeted benefits increase a sense of belonging. These are not the biggest belonging drivers, but they are foundational because employees who feel underpaid are unlikely to feel valued.

2. Recognition

Employees who feel meaningfully recognized at work are twice as likely to feel a strong sense of belonging at work. Monthly manager recognition, a strong culture of peer recognition, and the right recognition platform are all critical to create a feeling of recognition and belonging in your company.

3. Feedback

While simply gathering feedback does increase belonging rates, the true magic lies in taking action on employee feedback. When employees say their company takes action on feedback, they are almost three times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging.

4. Relationships

Employees who say their company supports them in building relationships at work are 2.4 times more likely to say they have a strong sense of belonging. In addition, employees who report their organization offers connection tools are 34% more likely to say they feel a strong sense of belonging at work.

5. Manager effectiveness

People with an effective manager are 76% more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging compared to average, and are almost six times more likely to feel this sense of belonging than those with an ineffective manager.

6. Culture alignment

Organizations with strong culture alignment have higher rates of belonging, lower turnover, and better resilience. In turbulent times, employees that believe their company leaders can be trusted to walk their talk are less uncertain and apprehensive, which increases their engagement and belonging.

Increasing belonging at work doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Start by aligning existing and planned initiatives to the Belonging Model™ and finding areas for improvement. Focus on just one pillar at a time to make meaningful change and foster a culture of belonging for every employee.

Get the Belonging Levers report today to start taking action immediately, improving belonging for every employee so they can be their most effective selves at work.

Download the full Belonging Blueprint today

The full version includes part one and two, plus an introduction from Workday’s Kumari Williams and appendices for different workplace groups including managers, offline employees, and those from marginalized communities.

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