Cultivating a sense of belonging for organisational success

A new report by Achievers highlights why an effective and successful workforce starts with employees who feel that they belong.
By: | September 7, 2021

A true sense of belonging at work is the deepest measure of engagement, and is also one of the best predictors of the extent to which one will thrive at work, said Dr Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist, Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI).

Writing in the new Achievers Belonging at Work 2021 Culture report, she highlighted, “Organisations that are able to cultivate a sense of belonging are more likely to have employees that passionately advocate for, are committed to and are enthusiastic about their work. Environments that foster a deep sense of belonging also enjoy greater productivity, stronger employee well-being and lower levels of turnover.”

Based around the AWI Belonging Model and its five pillars – Welcomed, Known, Included, Supported and Connected – the new Achievers report identified belonging as a critical driver of individual and organisational success.

According to the AWI survey, people with a strong sense of belonging are “significantly more likely” to be engaged in their role. They are also more than twice as likely to be productive, resilient, committed to their company, satisfied with their job and feel enthusiastic about their role.

With a clear call to action to business leaders to encourage belonging at work, it is important to understand how to cultivate this sense of belonging. Achievers recommends that organisations adopt the five pillars of the AWI Belonging Model, which all correlate positively and significantly with a stronger sense of belonging, Achievers explained.

Diversity and equity also have a significant role to play in belonging. Employees who say their organisation is diverse at senior levels are 2.4 times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging. Those who strongly agree that every employee at their organisation has the same opportunities to succeed and advance are 2.15 times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging.

When it comes to belonging, there is a clear gender difference, Achievers pointed out. Men are 41% more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging, compared to women. While there are likely a few drivers of this difference, feeling included and being valued play an important role, Achievers suggested, adding that recognition is a key driver of inclusion and the experience of belonging.

Employees recognised in the past week are almost twice as likely to have a strong sense of belonging compared to other employees, while just 11% of these never recognised feel a strong sense of belonging.

How organisations can cultivate a strong sense of belonging

First, define what belonging means for the organisation and start measuring belonging in pulse or annual engagement surveys to have a yardstick against which to measure improvement, Achievers advised.

Then, align all HR technology and processes with the five pillars of belonging. Every tool and resource should support one of the five pillars to ensure that organisations know that they are driving belonging.

Next, organisations need to embrace differences and ensure that their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are driving towards building a sense of belonging. Women, LGBTQ employees, people of colour, disabled employees and other marginalised groups may need more support or additional resources to feel a strong sense of belonging, Achievers cautioned.

READ: Positive correlations between recognition and key business metrics

Last but certainly not least, organisations need to create a culture of recognition to ensure that employees feel seen, valued and respected. Recognition, Achievers concluded, is the most powerful tool organisations have at their disposal to drive a strong sense of belonging and the right recognition platform will drive higher recognition frequency and quality.

Click here for the report and find out how you can excel and exceed expectations for employee experience.