Employees spend around half of their waking day either being physically at the workplace or virtually spending time with their teams. Therefore, having a safe, kind and supportive environment that nurtures a sense of belonging is instrumental to the wellbeing of both the employees and the company as a whole.
The reality of who we are as humans is that we all crave to belong, and that does not only apply on a personal level but also on a professional one. When someone feels like they are included and accepted in their workplace, chances are they will feel safe, happy, and comfortable and thus be more motivated and productive.
One research shows that creating a workplace culture that fosters a sense of belonging increases job performance by 56%, reduces turnover risk by 50%, and decreases employee sick leaves by 75%. These numbers clearly point towards the fact that belonging is a prerequisite to a successful and safe company culture, and yet many still feel like they don’t belong at the workplace. In fact, a new research reports that 72% of global workers feel lonely at the workplace, a number that is a result of both the pandemic and employers not stepping up their game.
To help you tap into one of the less spoken aspects of having a healthy workplace, we have highlighted 6 ways to help you create a sense of belonging in your company for your employees:
1. Raise awareness
The first step to introducing anything is raising awareness. True leaders know how pivotal it is for their employees to understand that they are welcome. That is why it is crucial for leaders to be welcoming to everyone joining their team. Being vocal about it and highlighting how important nurturing a sense of belonging is can help create a more aware and understanding culture.
2. Practice inclusion, do not just preach it
Many businesses are trying to support inclusion and have diverse teams, but what many fail to see is that this is only the first step. Nurturing a sense of inclusion is a great step forward, but actually practicing it in the workplace is a different thing.
Being mindful and taking a step back to evaluate our own actions and words can be a great way to highlight unintentional bias. Not only that but focusing on similarities and common ground means that your employees are joining forces and becoming a team. Therefore, shifting your focus on what everyone has in common is a great way to make everyone feel welcomed and accepted.
3. Build strong social bonds
Building a sense of collaboration and team spirit can go a long way to bring your team members together. Remember that belonging comes from feeling like one belongs to a community or group who share similar values and goals, and by bringing team members together and helping them bond, you are also helping them feel like they belong.
4. Have a trusting relationship
A huge part of making people feel less alone and that they belong is by building an actual relationship with them that is based on mutual trust and respect. When your employees trust you, they know they can come to you with anything without fearing judgment.
5. Listen, listen and listen
Actually listening to someone and understanding what they are thinking is a key attribute of successful leadership. Having a transparent two-way street for communication is imperative to know when employees are not feeling welcome.
By listening to the concerns and issues of your employees at work, you are not only helping them overcome these issues but you are also indirectly telling them that they have your support.
Be open to receiving feedback on how you can make things better for your employees, afterall, they are the ones feeling like they do not belong and no one gets to tell them otherwise.
6. Be empathetic and open-minded
Empathy always goes a long way. When you create a culture and environment that knows the importance and benefits of empathy, you are also telling your team that everyone is welcome.
Being understanding and open minded to the fact that each person is different can make everyone feel more accepted.
Kindness can do wonders, and by setting a foundation that is built on empathy and acceptance, you are already creating a culture that screams you belong!