The Need of Belonging at Work: How it Affects Employees and Organizational Success
One way to understand whether a company has cultivated a healthy workplace culture is by noticing how people tend to feel about coming to the office everyday. Of course, every Monday might not be a #thankgoditsmonday but the positive emotions people experience at workplace should outnumber the negative ones. Employees tend to feel positive emotions when they feel that they belong to the team, the organisation.
What does it mean to have a sense of belonging?
Having a sense of belonging at the workplace means that employees feel comfortable to express themselves and feel valued by their colleagues. It means that they do not have to change crucial parts of who they are just to fit in with the group. The group (i.e - coworkers) accepts the individual for who he/she is and extends their support towards the individual. This leads to a sense of belonging within the team members. Having a sense of belonging with the team indicates that people tend to feel compassionate towards each other and are more willing to collaborate.
"Creating a culture where employees feel like they are valued or respected, they're included, they belong, that's what it all boils down to. Leaders who can create these environments are pretty game-changing for culture." - Adam Massman
Why is belonging so important?
People are hardwired for social connection, it plays an important role in contributing to their emotional and even physical health. Having a sense of belonging at work has multiple benefits. A few of them are -
1. Increase job satisfaction and motivation
When employees feel that they belong with a particular organisation or team they tend to have positive interactions with the co-workers and hence feel motivated to come to work. This also leads to job satisfaction.
2. Improve mental health
Belonging can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are associated with poor mental health outcomes. Whereas developing healthy relationships at work leads to a boost in happiness of employees as well as lowers stress levels.
3. Enhance team performance
A sense of belonging improves teamwork, communication, and collaboration, which in turn leads to better performance. It leads to better functioning teams where employees trust each other and feel safe expressing their ideas and voicing their concerns.
4. Boost retention
One study found that employees experiencing a sense of belonging at work leads to 56% increase in job performance, 50% decrease in employee turnover and 75% reduction in sick leaves.
5. Promote diversity and inclusion
Belonging can help create a more inclusive work environment, where people from different backgrounds and experiences feel welcome and valued. This creates a healthy and positive workplace atmosphere for everyone.
Employees need to feel part of the team
Due to the "epidemic of loneliness" which the majority of people are experiencing these days, it seems difficult to find true belonging and connection. Establishing good relationships at the workplace or simply making friends at work is still something that many employees struggle with.
Lack of social connections at work affects not only the teams and the work environment but the entire organization as well. It leads to employees feeling less engaged with work and reduces their commitment towards the organisation. For a while, some employees might be able to stay distant and get the work done, but in the long run it leads to negative consequences. Good relationships are the glue that binds employees to the workplace.
With more and more people working remotely these days, it is even more difficult to develop good rapport with team members. There are various instances where people don't even know all of their team members. This needs to be changed.
According to a research published by Better Up, 3.8 people out of 10 say that they don't trust their co-workers. Around 53% of employees say that they don't look forward to working because of their co-workers. The research also stated that people experiencing low social connection are 158% likely to experience anxiety and depression. This also increases the chances of burnout by 109%. These facts are alarming.
Organisations need to promote/organise activities or events where people from different departments can come together and interact with each other. Even the act of prioritizing healthy workplace relationships is beneficial. The employees who actively make efforts to cultivate good relations at the workplace experience 36% greater life satisfaction, 59% increase in positive relationships and 41% higher social connections.
To summarize, multiple researches show that belonging at work is an important factor in individual well-being and organizational growth, and promoting a sense of belonging can have numerous benefits.
What are some of the initiatives taken by your organisation to increase belonging at the workplace?
We recommend this interview with Dr. Angela Stopper on Boosting Performance and Happiness at Work. Angela is the is the Chief Learning Officer at the University of California, Berkeley.
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