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Hybrid Work

Belonging in the workplace: Why creating this feeling is essential


March 14, 2024


March 18, 2024

In modern businesses, where hybrid and flexible working models are now the norm, cultivating a sense of belonging in the workplace has never been more crucial. When balancing remote and in-office work, belonging becomes a key driver for employee satisfaction and organizational cohesion.

Discover the impact of nurturing a culture where every employee feels included, connected, and valued, regardless of their location. Promoting a culture of belonging holds many benefits, from enhancing performance to improving mental health and reducing turnover rates. Do you need concrete examples to better understand what belonging looks like in practice?

This blog post offers insightful strategies on how you can promote this critical aspect, ensuring your employees thrive within these evolving work structures. Let’s discuss how fostering a sense of belonging can transform your workplace, solidifying the foundation for a resilient and dynamic workforce.

The meaning of “belonging in the workplace”

Definition of the feeling of belonging at work

Belonging in the workplace is the feeling of being connected and included in a team where people understand and commit to shared values and visions. It’s about working collaboratively towards a common goal that they all agree with and look forward to achieving together. This sense makes employees feel that they work at the right place with the right colleagues. 

Promoting a culture of belonging in the workplace means creating an environment where being oneself is accepted and encouraged. This empowers team members and makes them feel included and supported, fostering authenticity and a strong sense of community.

The feeling of belonging is part of the fundamental human needs on Maslow’s pyramid

The sense of belonging is a core element of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, considered as critical to our psychological well-being. Just as essential as it is in our personal lives, belonging in the workplace fulfills our natural desire for connection and acceptance within a social context. 

This psychological need transcends into professional environments, where feeling part of a community boosts morale, promotes productivity, and increases job satisfaction. This vital human requirement enhances people’s overall engagement and commitment in every aspect of their lives.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow's hierarchy of needs

The strong link between creating a sense of belonging and promoting inclusion in the workplace

Talking about the importance of creating a sense of belonging at work without mentioning inclusion in the workplace is impossible. 

The correlation between these two crucial topics is undeniable. Inclusion acts as the foundation to build belonging. It ensures that diversity is present, appreciated, and acknowledged as a strength in the organizational ecosystem. Plus, it promotes values such as respect and recognition. 

You can foster this relationship by implementing inclusive policies, promoting diverse hiring practices, and nurturing a culture where all voices are heard and respected. Such an approach helps you create a positive and healthy work environment where everyone can thrive and feel a true sense of belonging.

👋 Learn more about the benefits of promoting inclusion in the workplace!

The benefits of promoting a culture of belonging in the workplace

Engagement and performance: the feeling of being in the right place with the right people changes everything

Feeling that you are in the right place with the right people significantly boosts employee engagement and performance. According to a study from BetterUp, engagement increases up to 56% in companies where a culture of belonging is promoted. When team members feel excluded, their motivation and drive to exceed expectations weaken, hindering their willingness to contribute fully. 

However, an environment where they feel accepted, respected, valued, and trusted for their skills and input fosters a sense of empowerment. This feeling motivates them to take initiative and proactively propose innovative ideas. Such inclusion cultivates a vibrant workplace where employees are not just present but are eager and inspired to deliver their best.

Well-being and mental health: experiencing a sense of belonging at work is vital

Experiencing a sense of belonging in the workplace is crucial for employee well-being and mental health, particularly in a hybrid work environment that combines remote and in-office activities. It can bridge the physical distance inherent in hybrid setups, reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection. 

As mentioned earlier, this sense of belonging fulfils one of Maslow’s fundamental human needs, which proves its significance for a person’s overall well-being. By fostering this feeling, you help create a healthy and thriving work environment where it is just as important to take care of the human brain as it is to achieve professional goals.

🧠 Read more about hybrid work and mental health.

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Colleagues feeling part of community

Employee retention: being part of a community creates a stronger bond to the workplace

Experiencing a sense of belonging at work is also key to enhancing employee retention and reducing turnover rates. Studies like the one from Better Up show turnover can decrease by 50% in businesses promoting a culture of belonging. 

When individuals feel disconnected from their workplace, their role, or their colleagues, they are more likely to resign, seeking environments where they feel valued and part of a community. Fostering a sense of workplace connection not only enriches job satisfaction but also strengthens loyalty. This makes employees less inclined to leave and more invested in their careers within the company.

Office attendance: reinforcing belonging in the workplace makes employees want to meet in person

Do you want to see your employees more often in the office? Well, maybe the idea of fostering a culture of belonging can help you do so. When people experience a strong sense of belonging with their colleagues and the company, their willingness to commute and work on-site rather than from home can significantly increase. 

The community feeling, the genuine connections with colleagues, and the inclusive culture attract people to the physical workspace. If your staff gets along with their coworkers and feels that they belong, they tend to want to meet them face-to-face and work on the collective projects in person more frequently. This sense of community makes them seek the social and professional engagement that home offices often struggle to offer.

Sick days and absenteeism: promoting a culture of belonging decreases employee sick days

Another key benefit of focusing on promoting a corporate culture that advocates belonging and inclusion is the impact it has on reducing employee absenteeism. The BetterUp study shows that when workers feel they belong and are included, they exhibit 75% fewer sick days and 41% less absenteeism. 

This is mainly due to the fact that such a supportive environment significantly enhances employees’ overall well-being and mental health. People who feel connected and valued are not only happier but also more resilient to stress. Therefore, they are in better physical health and need less sick leave. Eventually, this helps maintain a more consistent and active presence at work.

👉 Learn more about the correlation between employee happiness and productivity.

Concrete examples of belonging in the workplace

Employees are comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions

Employees in a company that cultivates a culture of belonging feel more at ease when it comes to sharing their thoughts and offering contributions. This results in team members raising issues, proposing innovative business ideas, or expressing their viewpoints on decisions to be made. 

It’s an atmosphere where each suggestion is valued, fostering an open dialogue that can inspire change and push the company forward. When people believe their input is respected and can make a difference, they naturally become more engaged, collaborative, and proactive in their roles.

Team members feel recognized and appreciated for their input and contributions

Work environments based on a culture of belonging usually tend to make employees feel a profound sense of recognition and appreciation for their individual input and contributions. Every aspect of their identity, from soft and hard skills to background and experience, is acknowledged as integral to the team’s success. 

This validation resonates deeply with people. It shows them that their unique attributes and the knowledge they bring to the table are not only valued but considered essential. Such an environment reinforces their sense of self-worth and bond with the organization.

Workers feel respected and trusted by the company and their colleagues

In an organization with a strong sense of belonging, employees are respected and trusted, not just by the company at large but by everyone in their work environment, including colleagues and managers. This mutual respect and trust create a solid foundation for a positive workplace atmosphere where open communication, collaboration, and support are the norm. Promoting such an environment empowers team members to perform at their best as they know that their contributions are valued and matter.

People have no problem being themselves at work

One of the most obvious differences between a workplace where the sense of belonging is fulfilled and one where it is lacking lies in the comfort level of employees being their authentic selves. 

A culture rooted in belonging and inclusion stands firm on the pillars of trust and respect. This collectively fosters an environment where individuals can confidently express their core personalities and ideas. This comfort ensures that employees do not feel the need to conform to a prescribed norm but rather are encouraged to be themselves at work.

Employees feel included from a social and a corporate point of view

Lastly, in a workplace where a sense of belonging is promoted, team members experience inclusion at all levels, not only with their colleagues but also with every corporate aspect. This feeling is visible through day-to-day interactions, collective projects, and the organization’s strategic decision-making. 

This inclusion ensures that workers are not only invited to participate in casual office gatherings but also that their inputs are integral in shaping the organization’s vision and goals. This comprehensive approach to belonging allows each person to feel valued and an essential part of the company’s ecosystem.

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Inclusion in the workplace

Ways to create a sense of inclusion and belonging at work

Ask your employees if they feel they belong to the workplace

Especially in a hybrid work setup, asking your staff how they feel about this topic is fundamental. Understanding if they feel they belong or not and the reasons why provide essential insights into the current culture. Direct feedback uncovers specific areas needing improvement and helps identify actionable steps to enhance belonging. 

By addressing concerns and implementing suggestions, you can actively cultivate a workplace where everyone feels valued, heard, and included. Ultimately, you are able to reinforce your organization’s commitment to your workforce’s well-being.

Build a strong corporate culture based on DEI practices

You have probably understood that building a strong corporate culture rooted in DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) practices is essential to fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace. DEI initiatives help you cultivate an environment where diversity is celebrated, empowering all team members to feel truly part of the organization. This sense of belonging encourages higher levels of engagement, collaboration, and loyalty. By integrating DEI at the core of company values, you support and enhance employee recognition, respect, and appreciation.

Include employees in decision-making

Including employees in decision-making is a must to foster belonging in the workplace. When people are actively involved in shaping the strategies and outcomes that affect their work, it creates a feeling of ownership and value. 

This collaborative approach shows employees that their insights and contributions are crucial to your company’s success and reinforces their sense of purpose and connection within your organization. Again, such inclusion is key to enhancing engagement, driving commitment, and cultivating a workplace environment where every team member feels integral to the collective mission.

Organize team bonding activities and social events regularly

Organizing regular team bonding activities and social events is crucial for nurturing a sense of belonging, especially in a hybrid work setup. These gatherings bridge the gap between remote and on-site teams. They strengthen work relationships, help your employees get to know each other better, create opportunities to meet new teammates, and maybe build new friendships. 

As they interact in informal settings, your team members build personal connections that reinforce professional collaboration. It can truly help reduce feelings of isolation when working from various locations. This is essential to reaffirm each person’s role in the broader company community, cohesion, respect, appreciation, and inclusion among your workforce.

Highlight the importance of promoting the feeling of belonging in the workplace among team leaders

We end this article with a very important aspect to highlight in order to foster belonging in the workplace. You need to make sure team leaders comprehend that promoting belonging in the workplace is critical. 

In the long run, failing to cultivate this feeling can lead to low morale, decreased productivity, and high turnover. This disrupts your team dynamics and imposes significant costs in rehiring and training. 

Advocating inclusion and belonging creates an environment where employees feel supported and valued, leading to higher engagement, innovation, and retention. As you now know, these are key drivers of success and a vibrant organizational culture.

Fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace, particularly within hybrid and flexible workforces, is a must for building a successful and cohesive work environment. Implementing DEI practices, involving employees in decision-making, and facilitating regular social and bonding activities to maintain connections are part of the core pillars of promoting a culture of belonging at work. When done successfully, the benefits are numerous, from boosting morale to increasing productivity and reinforcing loyalty, which are all vital for sustainable business growth and a thriving workplace

Do you want to see how a workspace management system can boost collaboration and connection between employees? Request a free demo of the deskbird app and discover our user-friendly features made to maintain and strengthen the bonds between hybrid teams!

Belonging in the workplace: Why creating this feeling is essential

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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