As a business leader, your strategies, vision, and leadership are put to test every day in the workplace. From the smart planning of strategic goals of your organization to their worthwhile execution, you have to be at the helm of innumerable things. After all, your excellence determines the overall performance of your employees and business. Moreover, your effective leadership also determines the levels of employee engagement and employee retention in your organization.
There has been much discussion on the need for fostering high employee engagement and prioritizing high employee retention. We already know that these are critical factors of success for an organization and leaders have to be brilliant at their strategies around these factors. Speaking of strategies, did you ever think that cultivating a sense of belonging among your employees can be an effective business strategy? Well, if you have not looked at that side of belongingness in the workplace, you may want to reconsider.
Promoting strong emotions of belongingness in the workplace can do wonders for businesses. Of course, what plays a pivotal role in leveraging this opportunity is the efficiency with which leaders execute their plans to promote greater workplace belonging to create a cohesive culture. In this blog, we look at the most worthwhile tactics that you can apply to trigger an impressive sense of belonging in your workplace.
However, do you have an exact idea of the benefits of endorsing belonging in the workplace? Why should you lay great emphasis on creating a culture around the idea of belongingness? A brief elucidation of the merits of strong feelings of belonging among employees will make great sense here. Having said that, before we look at the ways in which you can promote greater workplace belongingness, let us elaborate on the key advantages of doing so.
Unexplored benefits of promoting belonging in the workplace
Optimized job performance
As per Deloitte, a prolific feeling of belongingness in employees can enhance their job performance by 56 percent. Such a hike in employee performance can be priceless for an organization. It can help an organization become far more competitive, agile, and productive. So, as a business leader, you ought to make the most of this opportunity.
You ought to create a culture that promotes multifaceted dimensions of belongingness among your employees. By optimizing this feeling in them, you can enhance the overall performance of the organization. How effective you turn out to be in creating coherence in the workplace will be a true test of your leadership.
Enhanced employee loyalty
Employee loyalty and the feeling of belongingness that employees feel are complementary to each other. The magnitude of allegiance is the highest among employees when they feel that they are a valuable part of the organization and they belong there. We often talk about retention rates being low in most organizations because of the lack of loyalty among employees.
But by promoting a greater sense of belonging in your employees, you can enhance both employee loyalty and retention. Employees would feel the urge to continue their journey with an organization when they settle in well. When employees are comfortable and start to believe that they belong in the place, they have the tendency to stay for longer.
Besides, for every ounce of allegiance that an organization shows to its employees, the latter reciprocate in a more overwhelming way. Therefore, when employees feel they are part of the organization and feel confident about their presence, they commit greater allegiance.
Better alignment of objectives
When employees feel that they belong in the organization, they view the success of the organization as their own success. Having said that, a strong sense of belonging in the workplace facilitates a much better alignment of individual and organizational objectives. Employees begin to view the strategic business objectives of their organization as their responsibilities. Needless to say, such alignment can give a perfect launchpad to the strategic goals and objectives of an organization.
Employees working in complete coherence with the aims and ambitions of their organizations is a surreal feat. Such coherence in objectives will make any business leader feel more empowered and optimistic in terms of their business goals. You would be a proud leader seeing such great alignment of objectives and effort in your organization, wouldn’t you be?
Higher employee engagement
Employee engagement has become a buzzword in the contemporary business world. In this reinvented corporate space, a leader’s efficiency is gauged in terms of the engagement they are able to drive in their teams. After all, as per Gallup, high engagement among employees can make an organization 21 percent more profitable. While there could be different approaches to fostering active engagement, creating a sense of belonging may be the simplest of them.
Employees endorse high engagement when they feel happy, motivated, and comfortable. To add, engagement is also a measure of the mental and emotional allegiance that employees have to their employers. Needless to say, when employees carry a strong feeling of belonging in the workplace, all the prerequisite virtues of engagement will thrive.
Employees will have the urge to make a real difference in the advancement of their organization by dedicating greater commitment. As explained above, the greater the engagement in employees the greater are the prospects of profitability
It is intriguing to note that there is an inverse correlation between the sense of belonging among employees and absenteeism rates in an organization. As per Harvard Business Review, companies that lay great emphasis on workplace belonging can reduce absenteeism rates by 75 percent. For any business leader, this can be a great feat to achieve given the productivity losses caused by absenteeism.
Having said that, averting productivity losses should make you feel great as a business leader, isn’t it? If you look at the cost of absenteeism, your company could lose up to USD 3600 per year for each employee as per Investopedia. However, employees would love to be a part of the workplace each day when they feel they belong there.
Well, indeed, the business benefits of workplace belonging are incredible as seen above. A prolific sense of belongingness can enhance the overall morale, engagement, and conviction of employees. So, from here on, you ought to have a proactive approach to cultivating workplace belongingness.
However, the real question is, how are you going to excel in this pursuit? How are you going to inspire the prerequisite sense of belongingness among your employees? Given below are some excellent strategies that you can apply to inspire belongingness in your employees. The execution part is of course subject to your charm and wits as a business leader.
Worthwhile ways of fostering belongingness in employees
Creating an inclusive workplace
Diversity and inclusion have become the new workplace norms in this reinvented corporate culture. While a lot of emphasis is laid on the notion of diversity alone, paying heed to inclusion is far more important. Diversity defines the demographics of a workforce but inclusion is what defines the acceptance of people from diverse backgrounds in the workplace. Having said that, inclusion holds the key to inspiring the emotion of belonging among employees. As a business leader, you ought to ensure that the dimensions of inclusion in the workplace are bright at all times.
Moving forward, this inclusion has to come across different verticals of the workplace culture. To begin with, you ought to create an inclusive work environment in terms of decision-making and opinion sharing. You need to work on smart tactics for promoting equity in the workplace along with inclusion. This is for the simple reason that inclusive workplace culture will thrive the most when there is equity in diversity. Employees will feel the emotion of belongingness in the strongest way when they feel their opinions and perspectives get recognition.
Besides, inclusion needs to reign within the organization in terms of celebrating its people. You have to celebrate your people, their milestones, and their contributions. The notion of inclusion should promote both equality and equity in the workplace. Also, inclusion will make employees feel much safer in the workplace. All these virtues will accumulate in the ultimate sense to promote strong emotions of belongingness.
Promoting learning and development opportunities
The idea of the sense of belonging among employees is not limited to the fact that they should feel comfortable in the workplace. From the purview of employees, growth is a greater driving force for belongingness and engagement. They are going to invest the best of their allegiance and commitment in an organization that invests in their careers. To put it in simple words, employees are quite appreciative of employers who offer learning and development opportunities to their employees and help them build a strong resume for future challenges.
As per Lorman, more than 87 percent of millennials are of the opinion that workplace learning is their utmost priority. With millennials set to represent more than 70 percent of the global workforce in the coming years, millennial engagement has to be a key strategy. You ought to have a structured framework to facilitate the learning and growth of your employees with a focus on millennials.
When employees see their organizations delivering on this expectation, they feel a more powerful emotion of belongingness. Furthermore, this enhanced feeling of belonging in them drives higher retention.
You can extend learning and development opportunities to your employees in different ways. In fact, thoughtful mentorship programs can be an innovative way to introduce new dimensions of learning. Besides, you can also invest in learning technologies like Learning Management System (LMS) and learning applications.
With the latest advancements in educational technology, employees can learn anytime and anywhere in a far more engaging way. However, are you making sure that you are investing in the right technology? Give your employees genuine opportunities to develop and see how they respond! With every prospect for reskilling and upskilling you offer to them, you will see their commitment take giant leaps.
Cultivating a culture of recognition
You may be offering the most competitive employee compensation to your team members but do you think that is enough? To bring out the best in your employees, you also need to deliver on employee appreciation, workplace recognition, and employee benefits. Employees love to be a part of an organization that has a robust culture of recognition and appreciation.
To substantiate, as per HubSpot, 69 percent of employees rate appreciation as a key motivating factor. They assert that they will work with greater zeal and commitment if they receive genuine appreciation.
Having said that, you ought to realize that wages are not the only expectations that employees have. In fact, if we talk about appreciation, everyone feels great when they receive accolades and recognition for their effort. Appreciation fills us with joy and gushing motivation to keep going and in fact, raise the bar of performance.
The bottom line is that appreciation and recognition are major influencing factors for driving motivation, engagement, and belongingness. Still, as per some key insights from Snacknation, not more than 42 percent of employees are happy with the rewards and recognition structure of their companies.
On the other hand, employees begin to disengage soon when there is a lack of appreciation. Further, this disengagement may soon translate into high turnover and you already know how exorbitant the costs of high turnover can be. To validate, As per Leah Campbell, the cost of turnover or bad hiring can be as high as USD 100 million per annum.
Probing further, as per Vantage Circle, lack of recognition is the major reason behind job switch for around 50 percent of employees. On the contrary, among the employees who receive adequate recognition, 63 percent of them plan to stay in their current organization. To add, research from Bersin and Associates also indicates that voluntary turnover in organizations with recognition programs is lower by 31 percent.
Supporting employees’ wellness
Caring for your employees’ health is one of the greatest ways to win their allegiance. Why would employees not feel an affluent bond of belongingness with a workplace that looks after their wellness? In fact, ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now switching to organizations with wellness initiatives. How the pandemic shaped up for the entire world has been grim and scary. Now that the pandemic seems to be settling down, the concern for well-being is greater than ever before.
Besides, here we need not look at the idea of wellness purely from the viewpoint of physical and mental well-being. For employees, financial wellness is of great importance too and employers ought to find ways in which they can offer support. If we talk about employee burnout, the rates are at alarming levels. As cited in the findings of a recent survey by Indeed, 52 percent of employees are carrying a constant feeling of burnout.
Further, if we talk about millennials and Gen Z employees, as per Deloitte, around 45 percent of employees from each generation say they are under incessant success. To add, other surveys reveal that more than 50 percent of millennial workers have massive financial concerns. Given that, by default, these workers will gravitate more towards organizations that have impressive wellness programs. Are you going to let your best talents slip to other organizations?
The need of the hour is to reimagine and rethink the employee wellness policies of your organization. You need to support your employees’ well-being if you are keen on building a coherent workplace. You may have to brainstorm and launch new wellness programs for your employees to win their allegiance and belonging. The focus of these programs has to be on catering to all areas of wellness ranging from mental well-being to financial security.
Also, it is worth noting here that as per Forbes, almost 90 percent of workers will recommend their company to others in case their organizations have employee wellness programs. To add, as per SHRM, 40 percent of employees are happier to work harder when their employers support their wellness. To add, what will make you more interested as an employer is that employee wellness programs can reduce the overall health care costs a company needs to incur. So, employee wellness programs are a win-win for all, isn’t it?
Offering flexibility in working
Ever since the trend of telecommuting and remote working has surged, flexibility has become a key expectation for most employees. In contemporary times, employees seek flexible work arrangements, flexible work timings, and flexible deadlines. In fact, millennials and Gen Z workers see flexibility as a great catalyst for striking an ideal work-life balance. For some of them, the privilege of having this balance may even be more vital than the remuneration on offer.
To substantiate, as per FlexJobs, 24 percent of employees are willing to take a 20 percent pay cut for flexible working arrangements. To add, overall around 97 percent of employees are interested in having at least some kind of flexible working arrangements on offer. They are happy to be given permanent remote work or be a part of a hybrid culture.
Having said that, inspiring great belongingness in them will require some flexibility at your end. The greater flexibility you offer to your employees in terms of remote working hours and work timings the greater will be the sense of belongingness in them.
Besides, the fact that remote working cultures and hybrid cultures also save massive operational costs, you should not hold back from having policies for flexible working. You too should embrace the idea of workplace flexibility and its unexplored benefits. After all, flexibility has become a key factor for belonging, engagement, and retention!
To recapitulate, promoting a sense of belonging in your employees can advance your organizations to horizons you never imagined. As stated above, from driving high engagement to optimizing job performance, a strong sense of belonging can change the dynamics of success for the better. Speaking of the strategies for cultivating workplace belonging, the key is to win the allegiance of the employees and make them feel valued in the workplace.