Groucho Marx famously quipped, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” In all seriousness though, humans are hard-wired to want to belong – in their families, friendship groups, clubs, and in the workplace. As employers grapple with ‘The Great Resignation,’ instilling a sense of belonging for employees has moved up the HR agenda.

If you’re concerned that building a culture of belonging is too soft a priority in these tough times, the findings in our 2021 ‘Culture Report on Belonging at Work’ survey might surprise you. It turns out that belonging directly impacts top line business metrics like cost reduction, productivity, and employee retention. In nearly every category we measured, employees who feel a sense of belonging are at least twice as likely than the average to act in ways that contribute positively to your company’s reputation and bottom line.

Let’s zoom in on just four of the findings that really stand out in this area:

Now, what practical steps can you take to build a culture of belonging in your organisation?

The first step is to measure and define what belonging means in your organisation. You can use pulse or annual engagement surveys as tools to help benchmark your progress.

Next, we recommend you align your HR technology and processes against these five pillars of belonging: “Welcome”, “Known”, “Included”, “Supported”, and “Connected”. Our research shows that these areas all correlate positively and significantly with a powerful sense of belonging. You can read more about these in the report.

Thirdly, embrace differences by ensuring your organisation’s DEI efforts are aligned with belonging. Women, LGBTQ employees, people of colour, disabled employees, and other frequently marginalised groups may need extra support and resources to feel a strong sense of belonging.

Finally, establish a culture of recognition so that people feel seen, valued, and respected. Our customers demonstrate time and time again this is the most powerful way to build a culture of belonging. Tools that allow all employees – regardless of their seniority or location – to recognise their colleagues can be immensely powerful at this stage.

Despite Groucho Marx’s witty banter on the subject, belonging is a serious issue. Our research categorically shows that investing in a culture of belonging in your workplace will pay huge dividends. This is especially true today, when so many employees are currently re-evaluating their work situations.

The 2021 Culture Report on Belonging at Work, is freely available here.

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