Building a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

employees working together

Unsurprisingly, 40% of workers feel that they don’t belong in the company they work for. They feel emotionally and physically isolated from their workmates. If you are feeling this way, too, you are not alone. Even those you thought are coping well with the pressure in the job may not be doing good at all. Sometimes, it is all a matter of perspective.

Whether at work or home, it’s important to feel that you belong. This creates a more fulfilled life. Employees are more productive when they feel like they belong in the organization. They have to find their places in the world, and employers have a huge role in ensuring this primal need to belong is satisfied.

Whereas basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and clothing are the right of every individual, so does their desire to be included in a community. This isn’t only about employers wanting to retain their employees and earning their loyalty. This is about organizations making an effort to be inclusive by embracing flaws and weaknesses and showing through the littlest of things how valuable the workers are to them.

Personalizing Workspaces and Items

Do you know that chefs in commercial kitchens have their names engraved on their custom knives and embroidered on their personalied aprons? That’s why they feel connected to the restaurants that they serve. The personalization of items around the office makes one feel like they belong there. People do this all the time at home–they personalize hand towels and other items because, for them, that place is their solitude. This is what employers can do for their workers—make them feel at home by personalizing stuff for them, such as office stationery, coffee mugs, business cards, etc.

Modeling Vulnerability and Authenticity

The number one component for workers is psychological safety. That seems to be a complicated thing to reach in a workplace, but it’s actually very simple to admit to the organization that everyone has, at some point, made a mistake. Admitting vulnerability and authenticity will make employees feel that there is a space to not be perfect in the workplace.

Most of the time, employees get so pressured at work that they forget about taking care of themselves. If you want them to feel that they belong with your organization, you have to take an extra step to inquire about their mental status or how they are really doing. Every meeting, for example, allow team members to talk about what went wrong in their initiatives and how they can better themselves.

employees clapping

Checking in with People

Do you know that more than 40% of respondents in one study are not friends or haven’t even talked with their co-workers? This leads to discontentment in the job. Check in with your employees personally and professionally. Once in a while, ask them about their work and families. Are they happy with their tasks? Are they looking for new challenges? How are their kids?

These are simple things, but they go such a long way for those who struggle at work. Make sure that you model this behavior to all your employees. They need to do the same for their coworkers so that everyone feels safe and welcome.

Giving People the Floor

During a meeting, have you ever noticed one of your employees feel dejected? If everyone is speaking above someone when that someone presents their ideas during the meeting, it’s easy for anyone to feel like they do not belong. Instead of telling everyone to shut up, why don’t you also give the floor to this person? You can say, “Can we hear what (insert name here) has to say?” This simple act will empower that person.

If some team members don’t speak during meetings or don’t interact with other team members, make it a point to reach out to them. Maybe they are shy? Why don’t you strike a conversation with them during lunch break?

Allowing Workers to Celebrate Their Identities

Employees are not happy because most companies and organizations try to stifle their genuine identities. Allow your employees to be themselves. Instead of forcing them to wear the traditional work attire in the office, let them come dressed however they want. Of course, there are some exceptions such as when there’s an important client meeting or some industry events. But if they are just staying in their cubicles, let them be comfortable to dress the way they want.

The more a company cares about its employees’ well-being, the more it will be successful. But it also begins with making your employees feel like they belong with the organization. That is primal to their success and productivity in their tasks.

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