As noted by the Harvard Business Review, the need for social belonging is hardwired into human DNA, and even – or maybe mainly due to – more people working remotely these days, this feeling of truly being part of a group or team is especially critical in the workplace.
If employees feel like they belong, there are benefits to both them and to their employers. Job performance improves, there tends to be less of a turnover risk, and people take fewer sick days. In essence, happy people make for better teams.
Feeling excluded or isolated actually hurts. Research has shown that it produces a sensation akin to physical pain. Fortunately, as a business leader, there are steps you can take to foster a work environment of belonging and inclusion for everyone. Here are three suggestions:
Make sure people are comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.
In an environment of belonging, people are appreciated for what they bring to the group. They can immediately sense it and it serves them well. Always encourage and seek ideas and feedback from employees, actively listen to what they have to say, and follow up on their suggestions. Let them know why and how an idea can be implemented, or turn it into a teachable moment: use a constructive approach to explain why not.
Encourage meaningful relationships among coworkers.
There are strong correlations between having friends at work and improved business performance. Provide opportunities for employees to get to know one another better, both on and off the job. Group lunches, happy hours, and team-building activities are a few good ways to get started. They can be virtual, in person, or both.
Be culturally competent.
Medical anthropologist Geri-Ann Galanti first coined the term “cultural competence.” While it originally was a reference for patient care for diverse populations, it’s now rooted in efforts to create a sense of belonging in all organizational settings. Cultural competence is focused on building leaders’ awareness and ability to care for others by appreciating their differences. In addition to creating an “in it together” environment, cultural competence helps guard against hiring bias.
At PrideStaff Northern Kentucky, it’s no coincidence that we have “pride” in our name. We’re proud to help put people to work and help companies foster healthy, productive and inclusive cultures. Contact us today for more tips and insights on building your winning workplace environment.