In the past few years, study after study has shown that creating a culture of belonging can have a huge impact on overall employee engagement and performance levels.
A workplace with a culture of belonging is a place where everyone feels included and psychologically safe, without having to modify who they are. Belonging means that employees feel they can bring their authentic selves to work and know that they will not only be accepted, but also valued.
When managers cultivate belonging for their teams and employees, it boosts employee productivity and helps prevent burnout. The rationale behind this is that when employees feel like they fit in, they can relax more and focus on delivering their best performances to achieve positive business outcomes.
A strong culture of belonging can also boost the success of your Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. Not surprisingly, cultures that give people the chance to foster authenticity at work tend to attract and retain a broader array of people across all demographics, including personalities, experiences, backgrounds and perspectives. This brings a wealth of ideas that produce strong business results, productivity gains and financial health.
So, while it’s pretty indisputable that there is some real merit in improving belonging at your organization, how can your leadership team go about doing so? Here are some ideas you might consider acting on:
Clearly (re)define your company’s mission
Create or update and communicate a mission statement that describes what your company is working to achieve. The mission should be broad enough that it makes all employees from different areas around the organization feel included. A strong mission statement can encourage collaboration and a sense of ownership.
Ensure employees’ know their voice matters
As part of a team working towards one sole mission, it’s integral that every team member is valued and has the chance to contribute to “wins.” Make sure that message comes across loud and clear by encouraging everyone to speak up in meetings, participate in open dialogue, give all ideas serious consideration and thank each employee for their insight when provided.
As per the advice of Simon Sinek in his famous “Leaders Eat Last” presentation, hear out your team before chiming in with your own take or decision.
Another factor to consider is that if you’re on your phone or laptop when your team members are in the room, it can make others feel that their opinion isn’t as valued as whomever else you’re responding to online or whatever you’re reading. Consider a ‘no devices at the table’ rule!
Focus on recognition
In our fast-paced world, it’s all too easy to move from one goal to the next, without taking the time to celebrate achievements. However, pressing pause to recognize your team and individual employees for a job well done will help boost their sense of confidence and reassure them that they belong at your organization. It’s also a great idea to connect work achievements to the company core values to reinforce them, since values drive culture.
Hire people who value inclusivity
When interviewing candidates, ask them what inclusivity in the workplace looks like for them and what conditions would allow them to achieve their full potential. You could also consider implementing a values-based cultural alignment tool (ahem, like Fortay.ai) that can objectively and predictively automate this type of screening for you to help you scale with a culture-first approach.
Administer anonymous employee surveys on a regular basis to gather feedback on how different groups across your organization feel from a belonging perspective. You can administer the Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIBs) Survey through the Fortay.ai platform (we offer this evaluation and metrics tool for free), to gather a baseline and actionable insights.
Once the baseline is in place you can create an action plan to implement over time in order to gradually improve employee belonging as well as your DIBs efforts.
Ultimately, every organization is different and you may have novel ideas for other types of activities and initiatives you could implement that may boost employees’ sense of belonging. The most important thing, however, is to recognize the impact of belonging in the workplace, observe how you are currently supporting a culture of belonging and where it can be improved.
Fortay.ai is a predictive analytics platform for culture-first companies, helping them to build diverse and highly-effective teams with a data-informed approach. We make it easy to hire and retain talent for true culture add and nurture your company culture.
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