The great resignation has forced a shift in workplace dynamics across all industries. In its wake, employees are re-evaluating their work environment and culture to determine if it meets their specific needs. Furthermore, having a sense of belonging is crucial for collaboration and teamwork.
Now more than ever, employees are asking themselves: Do I belong on this team? In this installment of The Productivity Box, we want to focus on this question. Because each team member should feel truly safe to belong. In turn, this will reflect in their collaboration skills, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and performance as a whole.
What does it mean to prioritize a sense of belonging in the workplace?
The emphasis on what it means to fully belong is a more fleshed-out expansion of those DEI initiatives which took off in 2020. According to a report from the HR Research Institute:
- 28 percent of surveyed workers feel that DEI practices are concrete and visible.
- 27 percent feel that DEI informs business planning.
- 20 percent feel that DEI is formally integrated into the operations and strategies.
Those numbers are low. For many employees, DEI is coming across as performative or ineffectual. In theory, these initiatives are useful—but in practice, they can start to become more about fulfilling quotas and checking boxes. Why create DEI policies or track DEI metrics if they do not result in a safer, more accepting team environment?
That’s where belonging comes in. This initiative measures how employees feel about the culture and their ability to function within it. For example, how would your employees respond to these questions?
- Are they free to bring their values, ideas, talents and viewpoints to the table?
- Can they offer honest feedback without fear of retaliation?
- Are they treated with respect, compassion, and basic human dignity?
- Is this true for all team members across the board?
Can your employees answer each of those questions with a definitive Yes? Because that is what it means to belong. And it can lead to a serious payoff.
According to RedThread Research reports, a business that prioritizes a sense of belonging is twice as likely to achieve its goals. Moreover, employees who work there are 45 percent more inclined to stay with the organization.
So how does a sense of belonging influence team collaboration and performance markers? We’ll dive into that piece of the equation next.
How can a sense of belonging boost your productivity?
When employees feel they belong, it stands to reason, they will care about helping the business succeed. They’ll want to connect and interact with their colleagues, which nurtures collaboration and motivation. This can translate into substantial bottom-line benefits, Harvard Business Review points out.
Consider these compelling statistics from HBR’s research:
- Belonging leads to a 167 percent increase in company satisfaction
- Belonging leads to a 75 percent decrease in absenteeism
- Belonging leads to a 56 percent increase in work performance
- Belonging leads to a 50 percent decrease in turnover risk
- Belonging leads to 18x more promotions and 2x more salary raises
So how does this impact teamwork and other internal dynamics? To answer this, HBR ran an experiment. A team was separated into two groups. Half of those team members were treated with inclusion, while the other half faced exclusion. All team members were given a task to accomplish. The longer they persisted in this task, the more compensation they would earn for themselves and their team as a whole.
Here’s what the researchers found: Those who encountered exclusion worked less than their colleagues who experienced inclusion. Even the financial incentive was not enough to spur them into action.
After all, what’s the point in collaborating if someone is not recognized as a contributor and welcomed as a team member? Employees who belong rise to the occasion. They work together to achieve success, and they support each other in the process. They’re also more productive because they feel integral and valuable. A sense of belonging is not just beneficial—it’s crucial.
Belonging in the workplace matters
Take your initiatives a step further to make sure employees feel they belong. When you take this seriously, employees take notice.
Providing a sense of belonging for your employees can lead to higher productivity, greater happiness, and a stronger bottom line for the business as a whole.
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