You feel a sense of belonging when you are connected to and secure within a community. You might feel like you belong when among family, close friends, or colleagues. Wherever your true self feels at home and safe is where you belong.
Is your organization ready to commit to creating an environment where all team members feel that they belong? It’s worth the effort: employees with a strong sense of belonging are ten times more likely to recommend their organization as a great play to work and feel enthusiastic about their job. Read on to learn how you can foster a sense of belonging at your company.
Download Achievers’ Guide to Building a Culture of Belonging
5 pillars of belonging your organization must prioritize
A sense of belonging at work is incredibly valuable, but it’s difficult to define, much less create. To help you establish and support this important part of your organization’s culture, focus on the five pillars of belonging: feeling welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected.
If an employee feels like an outsider from the start, it’s hard to change that perception. You only get one chance to successfully welcome a new employee, so make it count.
A thoughtful onboarding process that is both structured and enjoyable is the best place to start. Ensure new employees receive all the information and resources they need from day one, receive coaching from their manager, and can easily connect with their peers in both their immediate team and across the company. The use of an onboarding buddy or mentoring system also offers a critical resource, particularly in the first few weeks in a new role. Both remote and in-office team members can benefit from having a defined, helpful contact for big and small questions, and serving as a mentor can be a rewarding and empowering role for your existing team members.
Employees also feel more welcomed if they are actively involved in their organization as early as possible. That’s where employee resource groups (ERGs) come in. ERGs are employee-led groups that serve to build community at work among team members with shared backgrounds, experiences, interests, or goals. ERGs offer fun and engaging points of access to active involvement right from the start.
Your company knows the names and faces of its employees, but does it truly understand what they value and what they want from your organization? Showing that it does makes your team feel known and appreciated. When employees open up, listen closely and let them share freely. Team members need these moments to connect with each other on a real level. The insights gained help your organization develop cultural alignment as well, so everyone feels at home and comfortable on the job.
Inclusion is about much more than how people socialize at work or who speaks up frequently in meetings. It’s a way of expressing the fact that your employees’ true identity and experiences at your organization are accepted and valued. Start putting these principles into action by making diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts a priority across the organization. And complement these efforts by fostering an environment of psychological safety so team members feel comfortable acting and speaking the way they prefer, even when expressing dissenting opinions on key work issues.
To ensure employees always have the option of expressing their true thoughts while remaining anonymous, your organization should also give employees a voice with an employee engagement platform that features tools like pulse surveys and always-on feedback channels. Once you’ve gathered this employee feedback, use your tool to analyze the results and pivot to building collaborative action plans to address pressing issues with your team members. When employees see that their voices can drive change at your company, they’ll truly feel known.
Every employee should feel supported by their organization, their manager, and their teammates. A supportive environment requires empowering employees to succeed. Begin with providing all team members with the tools, training, and resources they need to succeed. You should also provide ways for your employees to grow, from training initiatives to a clear career path to the potential for new roles and responsibilities. And, of course, striving to establish a healthy work-life balance is one of the best ways to let employees know you have their backs on and off the job.
Leaders at your organization play an essential role in establishing a supportive, empowered environment as well. They must enjoy mutual trust with their direct reports, be comfortable taking risks, and develop and share clear expectations and guidelines. Emphasize the importance of coaching rather than micromanaging and the need to welcome and act on feedback from employees.
The final pillar of belonging that your organization must focus on is the potential for employees to find meaningful personal connections at work. Connections between employees are wonderful when they happen naturally, but there are also actions you can take to facilitate them. The first is to make a diverse workforce a high priority for your organization. A diverse workforce ensures that every individual is able to see themselves represented within their organization, contributing to a feeling of psychological safety and resulting in a greater ability to form valuable, genuine connections.
You can also foster genuine connections by making time for team building activities. With an almost endless range of options available, it’s possible for every group to find exercises that they genuinely enjoy and lead to meaningful and longstanding relationships.
The Evolution of Connection and Need for Belonging
Provide recognition to foster belonging
Recognition is key to all five pillars of belonging, so your organization should encourage and enable all team members to practice frequent, real-time recognition, whether they’re in office or working remotely. Employees recognized in the past week are almost five times as likely to have a strong sense of belonging as those who are never recognized.
Social recognition is the first and most important piece of the puzzle. Look for an employee recognition platform that allows employees to show appreciation whenever and wherever they prefer. The simplest way to provide monetary recognition, a necessary complement, is through a point-based rewards system — again, powered by an employee recognition platform. This allows employees to award points to others and redeem their own points for things they actually want, rather than providing them with rewards that might just collect dust on the shelf.
Create a workplace where everyone belongs with Achievers
Organizations that develop a culture of belonging are more likely to have committed employees that are enthusiastic about their work. Cultivating a culture of belonging is essential for every company and leader who wants an engaged and resilient team where each individual contributor feels valued and included.
To help leverage these pillars of belonging at your organization, rely on the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. It includes Achievers Recognize, a recognition platform that makes it easy for everyone at your organization to provide meaningful, fun messages of recognition, together with reward points backed by the Achievers Reward Marketplace. And it also comes with Achievers Listen, an employee engagement platform that makes capturing, analyzing, and acting on employee feedback a snap.
Take the first step towards a culture of belonging by trying a free demo of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform today.