From the time we’re young, we’re all looking for a sense of security and comfort – at first from home and family. As we get older and start spending the majority of our waking hours at work; we try to forge a sense of accomplishment, belonging and satisfaction from our jobs. One way an employer can provide a sense of belonging and inclusion is by implementing processes to facilitate open communication, productivity and engagement, and the technologies to support these processes.
A key component of the technology is a self-service portal that’s personalized, and engaging to the employee. Fostering this sense of belonging, or employee engagement for the workforce is ever more important for companies as the competition for top talent continues to increase.
A supportive work environment that encourages open communication and teamwork enhance motivation, and engender rewards for all parties. “The best workplace teams also provide a sense of belonging. Well-established work processes, mutual respect, a deep sense of familiarity, and a commitment to group decisions and actions can all contribute to greater productivity," by Laura Stack from 'That Sense of Belonging: A Teamwork Necessity'.
Just as important as encouraging a sense of belonging in the workplace is recognizing the warning signs that things are getting out of hand. “"When employees feel they belong, they’ll give you their all. When they don’t, well, you’ll get only crumbs," from 'Five Warning Signs Your Employees May Lack a Sense of Belonging' by Christine Comaford. "Many companies have fostered cultures of exile. No one is purposely making people feel they don’t belong, but they’re also not proactively making them feel they do — and that’s a huge, huge mistake."
Ms. Comaford suggests keeping an eye out for the following red flags in corporate culture:
- Certain people get preferential treatment - different sets of rules for different employees
- Cliques & inside jokes flourish - certain employees or groups are left out of the 'joke'
- Obvious signs of hierarchy - stark division between groups
- Information silos - people or departments are alienated from one another
- No path for development or advancement - "True belonging is knowing you’re not just a cog in the machine..."
An organization that wants to establish and benefit from a sense of belonging in the workplace needs to foster foundations of solid two-way communication, mutual trust and respect; to create the supportive environment people seek. If employees’ need to belong is satisfied, they’ll feel comfortable in their work environment and feel free to focus on the work at hand – contributing to everyone’s success.