Building a culture of belonging: the key to boosting employee engagement and productivity
- 5 Min Read
Cultivating a culture of belonging enhances employee engagement, driving unparalleled productivity and fostering workplace harmony
In today’s fast-paced and fiercely competitive economic environment, organizations are constantly seeking out ways to gain an edge over their rivals. One opportunity for them to capitalize on is the cultivation of a culture of belonging. This proactive approach to workplace culture not only enhances diversity and inclusion but also drives employee engagement and productivity to new heights.
A culture of belonging is a dynamic and inclusive workplace environment that not only embraces diversity but also fosters a sense of inclusion, acceptance, and connectedness among employees. At its core, a culture of belonging is about recognizing that diversity is not limited to visible characteristics, but extends to diverse perspectives, experiences, and ways of thinking.
A culture of belonging also emphasizes the importance of psychological wellbeing, where employees feel comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from them without fear of negative consequences. This environment nurtures trust and collaboration, paving the way for innovation and creativity.
Moreover, it can positively influence employee motivation and morale. When individuals feel supported and valued, they are more likely to proactively seek out opportunities for growth and development, contributing to their overall engagement.
Strategies for building a culture of belonging
Building a culture of belonging requires a deliberate and sustained effort. Achievers, a leading employee engagement platform, has identified five pillars of belonging to guide organizations on this transformative journey. These pillars serve as the foundation for creating an environment where staff feel not only welcomed but also known, included, supported, and connected:
Welcomed: The first pillar emphasizes the importance of making employees feel welcomed from the moment they join an organization. This involves warm introductions, clear onboarding processes, and a friendly atmosphere.
Known: Building a culture of belonging requires recognizing and valuing everyone’s unique qualities and contributions. When employees feel known, they believe their skills and experiences are acknowledged and appreciated, fostering a deeper sense of connection with the organization.
Included: Inclusion is a vital pillar, ensuring that every staff member’s voice is heard and respected. An inclusive culture promotes diversity, equity, and fairness, allowing employees to bring their authentic selves to work without fear of bias or discrimination.
Supported: Providing support is crucial for staff to thrive. This pillar emphasizes helping, guidance, and resources to help employees succeed in their roles. When staff feel supported, they are more likely to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.
Connected: Building a sense of connection among employees and with the organization’s mission is the final pillar. Encouraging teamwork, collaboration, and a shared sense of purpose strengthens the bonds between staff and their workplace, creating a culture where belonging flourishes.
Speaking to HRD Connect, David Bator, managing director of the Achievers Workforce Institute, explained that the company had carried out a study that had shown that employees had felt three times as engaged and twice as included, when recognition and belonging were included within a diversity and inclusion (D&I) program.
“What our research demonstrates is that frequent and meaningful recognition of employee contributions drives a sense of belonging which in turn drives engagement and drives productivity,” says Bator.
“Frequent recognition, particularly from your manager, makes someone three times more likely to feel engaged within their role and the organization. So, we see that a program that is aligned with an organization’s values is an irreplaceable way to amplify those values, and really bring those values off posters in the lunchroom and into the hearts and minds of employees.”
However, while the benefits of instilling such a positive and inclusive culture clearly pay dividends, barriers remain in terms of driving its adoption, with factors such as resistance to change and a lack of awareness continuing to hold it back.
For instance, recent research has shown that just half of organizations are consulting employees about their organizational culture on an annual basis, and furthermore, just 18% of those who are consulted, have any confidence that the results will be acted upon. That shows that those companies that are capitalizing on the opportunities of having a more engaged and productive workforce are firmly in the minority.
However, that does not need to necessarily remain the case.
“For the high performing cultures, that go on to win the awards and make the lists that we all talk about, their secret to success is involving employees,” explains Bator. “And that means creating as much space for asking the questions, as they do for taking action on the answers.”
“And so, our counsel to our customers is to always create venues and opportunities for a different way of thinking about what inclusion means, and to think about the lived experience of an employee and give them a chance to raise their hand and weigh in.”