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How to Create a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

Aim for a workplace culture that makes individuals feel like they belong - not just to their team, but to the whole company. In doing so, your employees, your teams, and your leadership will reap the rewards. Read on to learn more about how to create a sense of belonging at work!

Why is belonging so important in the workplace? 🤔

It’s no secret that everyone wants to feel like they belong—from your high school days to your workplace, the desire for a sense of belonging is human nature. 

With more companies going fully remote, new team members onboarding with a company that they’ve never stepped foot in, and the looming sense of isolation from a year spent inside of our home, how do we ensure that our employees feel connected and included in the workplace?

People feeling like they don’t belong at work has a greater negative impact than on just the individual, it impacts the company culture as a whole:

  • When employees don’t feel a sense of belonging at work, it’s contagious. Though it can start with one person, it can quickly spread to an entire team. 🤧
  • Lack of feeling of belonging in the workplace drastically lowers productivity, increases employee turnover, and ultimately leads to dissatisfaction all around. 😔
  • A disengaged workforce negatively affects customer service and sales. If someone doesn't feel connected to their work - why would they try to bring outside people in? 🤷

Luckily, employee engagement (or lack thereof) can be changed. Together, we can create inclusive companies that employees are excited to work for. 🤝

Better employee engagement = better company culture = better company overall 🙌

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why employee engagement is crucial in the workplace:

  1. Open communication between teams, leadership, and all departments. 🗣
  2. Engaged employees will encourage their trusted friends and former co-workers to apply for open positions, strengthening the workforce. 💪
  3. Employees who feel a sense of belonging in the workplace will be more inclined to ask for help, and to reach out and help their team members whenever needed. 🙋
  4. When employees have a feeling of belonging, they feel empowered to share their ideas and help their company grow. 🤩

5 Tips for Helping Employees Feel a Sense of Belonging 💡

Encouraging a sense of belonging in the workplace starts at the top and trickles down. Here are five tips that you can implement in your workplace today, for a more inclusive and encouraging company culture tomorrow:

1. Emphasize a diverse, equitable & inclusive workplace 🤝

DEI is a topic that most employers have considered when it comes to their company culture. But an aspect of an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace that might be overlooked is the sense of belonging that it brings employees. 

Members of underrepresented groups may feel isolated in the workplace if there’s no one else who looks like them, shares their culture, or understands their heritage. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is the perfect first step toward creating a sense of belonging at work for every employee.

2. Take a people-centric approach to benefits & initiatives 👯

Not everyone in your company has the same wants and needs, and that’s totally okay! Allowing your employees to opt into benefits and initiatives that are tailored to them specifically is a great way to ensure that your entire staff feels safe and taken care of at work.

A few benefits to consider are:

  • Private mental health support and mental health-focused initiatives.
  • Mental health “sick days” that don’t negatively affect an employee’s regular PTO.
  • Flexible hours or provided childcare for working parents.
  • Inclusive medical benefits.

3. Check in with your team members individually 🔍

In a group setting, team members may feel nervous to speak up about challenges they’re facing in the workplace. 

Nobody likes to feel judged, so setting aside time for each team member to regularly have a 1:1 with their direct manager allows them to ask questions and express concerns without fear of judgment from their peers. Use this time to address any issues that arise and to talk about your employees’ career goals and aspirations.

4. Champion employee-led communities, like ERGs 🏆

ERGs, or employee-led resource groups, have been around since the 1960’s when a group of black Xerox employees organized to address racial tension in the workplace. Since then, they have become a useful resource for making diverse employees feel seen and heard in the workplace. 

When you encourage employees to form ERGs and other employee-led communities, it helps them find trust and empowerment in the workplace. Which, in turn, leads to them bringing innovation and new ideas to the office.

On top of ERGs, a few examples of employee-led communities are:

  • Professional development groups
  • Diversity resource groups
  • Affinity groups or clubs

5. Ask for input from those who matter most: your employees 💬

Perhaps most importantly, if you want to make sure that your employees feel connected and like they belong in the workplace, ask them what they need to feel included! The best ideas and advice for how to actively care for your employees will always come straight from them. 

Feel free to experiment with the way that you ask these questions—does an anonymous survey work better in your workplace than a 1:1 conversation? 

Whatever method works best, it’s always a good idea to go straight to the source when it comes to making people feel included and welcome in your company. 

Frequently Asked Questions ❓

What does belonging mean in the workplace? 🤔

Inclusive companies create a culture of belonging in the workplace by fostering social connection and making sure employees feel seen and heard. 

When team members feel a sense of belonging at work, they are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to remain with a company long term.

What is an example of belonging? 🧐

Employee-led resource groups, or ERGs, are a great example of what happens when people have a feeling of belonging at work.

These groups are typically led and comprised of employees who share a trait like race, gender, lifestyle, or sexual orientation. These groups ensure that the voices of underrepresented groups in a workplace are heard and everyone has a place within their company.

How does a sense of belonging help with teamwork? 🤨

When employees are disengaged from their company or feel like they don’t belong, those feelings can quickly spread to an entire team. On the other hand, when all employees feel a sense of belonging within their company, they are more likely to be an active part of their team, reach out to others for help, and add innovative ideas to the workforce.

Help Employees Feel Connected with Confetti 🥳

At Confetti, we encourage all employers to champion diversity and lead inclusion efforts within their teams. To learn more about building a stronger community at work, read this article. Together, we can build a sense of belonging for all of our employees.

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