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Why Leaders Should Aim To Build a Sense of Belonging On Their Teams

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In virtually every context, to belong is one of our core social needs. We want to feel included, and like we’re not only able to be ourselves – but that who we are is a part of our value.

Advancing diversity within an organisation requires moving beyond discrimination and bias. A business that harnesses and celebrates the unique gifts and talent of a diverse workforce must also foster a sense of belonging.

Belonging goes beyond transparency metrics. Highlighting that you have a team with people of all races, ethnicities and gender means little if their experience and perception within the organisation is that they’re largely undervalued, underutilised, ignored or even treated with hostility.

Who is responsible for building a sense of belonging in the workplace?

While some leaders may feel that belonging should be the personal responsibility of the employees as opposed to an organisational undertaking, this view can be misguided.

Belongingness – and a lack thereof – can have measurable impact on the health and performance of an organisation at the macro- and micro-level. 

In fact, recent research in the US has determined:

  • When employees feel a sense of belonging, they experience less turnover, take fewer sick days and have higher performance than their peers who don’t feel a sense of belonging.
  • Employees who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to recommend their organisation to other potential employees.
  • If all workers within a 10,000-person company felt a high sense of belonging, productivity would increase enough to result in an additional $52M annually.

While there are independent efforts that employees can engage in to boost their sense of belonging, belonging is not simply an employee-driven activity. We develop our sense of self and identity through a larger social context, through people who are relationally important. Being excluded by those people has damaging effects, while increasing belongingness fosters prosocial behaviour between people.  inclusio can help build belonging in your organisation by using a data-driven approach that offers demographic and scientific benchmarks that identifies the gaps and tells you where to take targeted action. 

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