Creating Connections: How to Promote Belonging in the Workplace
Research shows that having good relations with colleagues is one of the things that matters the most to employees. Better Up conducted a thorough research on quality of connections at work. One of the findings of this research was that the majority of employees (53%) are willing to trade some amount of their salary just to experience stronger relations with their colleagues.
This indicates that developing connections in the workplace is a priority for employees. Good interactions among colleagues lead to a feeling of belonging. Employees who feel that they belong with the team and the organisation at large, display positive behaviors when it comes to collaboration, effective communication and a positive climate at the workplace. The organisation reaps benefits when most of its employees feel a sense of belonging at the work. It results in lower rates of absenteeism, greater job satisfaction, increased motivation and increased retention rates.
What Actions can Managers do to Promote being like a Family (Belonging)
Keeping in mind the importance and benefits of strong connections at the workplace, here are a few things that leaders can do to boost the connections at work
Encourage social interactions:
Provide opportunities for employees to connect with and get to know each other. This can be done by hosting social events, team-building activities, or even informal gatherings. During the meetups, employees should feel free to interact with their colleagues and get to know each other on a personal level by asking about their hobbies, interests and finding similar grounds. It is also important to create connection opportunities for people who are working from home. Virtual meet up sessions should be hosted by the management for the team members to get to know each other better.
Another tactic to improve social interactions is by designing the workspace in a way that provides plenty of opportunities for spontaneous interactions. These interactions are short and casual in nature and elevate the mood of colleagues. This might be just the boost they need on a tiresome day.
Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs):
Employee Resource groups are basically the groups where employees come together based on shared interests. These groups create a safe space for employees to express themselves and connect with others who have similar background and interests. These groups promote an inclusive culture and provide support to the team members.
There are various benefits to forming an Employee Resource Group. These groups promote cultural awareness and enhance employee experience. ERG's can be beneficial to both the organization and its employees, by promoting a more inclusive and diverse culture. They also help the organization to better understand and respond to the unique needs and perspectives of different groups of employees.
Build effective teams focused on shared goals
It is the commitment to shared goals that sets high performing teams apart from others. As a manager / leader you can set meaningful goals and make sure every member on the team benefits from the results. This is the key component to generate improved social connections and better collaboration. Working towards a common, meaningful goal will unite the employees and promote a sense of belonging.
In addition to this, leaders need to promote open communication within the team. A manager / leader can promote open communication by creating a psychologically safe environment. The leader also needs to be transparent and honest while communicating to set an example for the rest of the team members. This promotes effective communication and creates a place where employees feel comfortable to express themselves and support each other.
True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. – Brene Brown
Promote coaching and mentorship within the organisation
Promoting coaching and mentorship within an organization can have a significant impact on employee development and their overall performance. This provides leaders and managers an opportunity to guide and mentor their colleagues who are relatively new to the field. A coach or mentor can provide guidance and feedback on an employee's performance, and can also help employees identify areas where they need to improve. This not only helps employees to develop their skills, but also increases their chances of being promoted within the organization.
When employees feel that they are being encouraged to grow and develop, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. This also helps employees to develop deeper, stronger ties with leaders. Having an open-door policy is also beneficial in this case. This way employees can approach management with their any questions or concerns and receive a timely feedback regarding the same.
Last but not the least, it is important for companies to have regular communication with their employees. This will help the management to stay in constant touch with the employees and understand their concerns and progress. This can be done by holding regular team meetings to discuss progress, share information, and address any issues or concerns.
Active listening is important to be a good communicator and build relationships. Promote a culture of listening mindfully to employees and taking their input and concerns into consideration. Good relations can also be developed in an organisation by helping each other and promoting trust.
Belonging is one of the most essential human needs, it is embedded in our biology, we generate oxytocin (the trust molecule) based on the quality of our connections - this quality will depend on how safe we feel in a group, the level of caring and the team's purpose, we can only achieve this by consistent behaviors. What will be the next action you will do to reinforce the quality of belonging in your team?
We recommend this interview with Eric M Bailey on How to handle a toxic manager. Eric is the author of The Cure for Stupidity: Using Brain Science to Explain Irrational Behavior.
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