Belonging can be described as a feeling of happiness, security and comfort coming from being part of a certain group or having a good relationship with other members of that group. It is generally achieved when there is a sense of inclusion, acceptance and shared identity.
What is the concept of belonging?
In its most basic form, belonging is about feeling like you’re an important part of a group or a community. As a social species, we are psychologically dependent on one another, which requires an emotional connection with the people around us.
The desire to feel part of a group, and be supported by the other members of our group, is vital for most humans. Belonging is also closely connected to the human perception of happiness and well-being.
Belonging and inclusivity
Belonging and inclusivity are two concepts that go hand in hand. However, they are not exactly the same.
Put simply, inclusivity refers to the attitudes and efforts that are implemented by an organization and its members to make people feel welcome and valuable. Belonging, on the other hand, refers to a person’s own feelings of acceptance and inclusion within a particular group.
Building a culture of belonging in the workplace
Belonging in the workplace has to do with feeling valued and having the freedom to bring one’s own unique self to the table. Most people seek a sense of connection with the people that surround them in the workplace. Outside of the family, it is also generally the place where most people fulfill their need of belonging.
Why belonging in the workplace is important
For generations, company executives have turned a blind eye to the importance of diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace. In recent years, social justice movements across the globe have started to bring about change, elevating matters of equity and diversity through the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements.
Belonging is closely linked to business performance, innovation and workforce retention. It is vital to bring out the best in everyone. If employees don’t have a sense of belonging, they will more likely feel insecure and inhibited from showing their authentic selves.
This may lead to underperformance and make employees less willing to collaborate with others. It also affects individuals’ wellbeing in the workplace, which is one of the top reasons why people resign from their jobs.
How to foster belonging in the workplace
Belonging in the workplace starts with executive commitment and can be reinforced through a number of strategies. Here are some tips:
- Avoid favoritism. All employees should be treated fairly and without bias, regardless of their race, gender, class or background.
- Promote equal advancement opportunities. Revise your organization’s promotion processes. This is often where discrimination rears its ugly head. It is also a powerful way of showing employees that they are valued and respected. Create a fair and transparent promotion process that considers merit, skills, and qualifications, rather than relying on subjective judgments or hidden biases.
- Involve employees in decision-making processes. When staff members feel like they have an influence in how decisions are made, it fosters a sense of commitment to the organization’s purpose, vision, and values. People become more invested in its growth and success.
- Recognize accomplishments and achievements. Celebrating employee milestones is a vital part of building a work culture rooted in a sense of community. It also signals that everyone’s accomplishments and contributions are important to the overall performance of the company.