Belonging: the core of strong company culture and success

Belonging: the core of strong company culture and success

Every corporation strives for success. To achieve this, strong business strategies and tools become handy; however, a strong company culture plays a pivotal role. At the very core of it lies the concept of BELONGING—the key component for fostering inclusion, psychological safety, and employee engagement. Why is it so crucial?

The meaning of Belonging

The sense of belonging – the feeling of being connected and accepted for who we are within our environment – is essential to humans. It is ranked on par with human need for love. Belonging at work means feeling seen for your unique contributions, connected to your co-workers, supported in your daily work and career development, and proud of your organization’s values and purpose. It is the sense security and support via acceptance and inclusion. For me feeling an integral part of the corporation/team and knowing that „we‘re in this together“ boosts my effort and commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve results.

It is crucial to note that the opposite of belonging is ‘fitting in’—changing who we are to be accepted by others. The need to fit in involves constant thinking: Who do I need to be? How should I act? What should I wear? How should I speak? And then, changing yourself to be accepted by the people around you. In cultures where fitting in prevails, exclusion is driven, and eventually, employees face two options:
1. Betray themselves to please others in order to fit in, or
2. Go elsewhere where they can feel connected and accepted for who they are.

I trust we all agree that nothing good comes from sacrificing your true identity and authenticity. People can pretend only for a limited time because, eventually, it starts severely affecting their happiness, mental health and performance.

Why belonging really matters?

The benefits of belonging at a workplace are impossible to ignore. Researches show that the sense of belonging increases employee engagement up to 54%, improves retention rates, enhances team dynamics, promotes psychological safety, drives improvements in metal health and employee well-being, etc.

What I find the most important of all is that belonging breeds inclusion. Technically, inclusion can be implemented without focusing on a sense of belonging. However, to achieve truly inclusive environment human connection and sense of community become handy. Only when people feel accepted and valued for who they are (sense of belonging) we can state that we have created truly inclusive environment.

How can we build the culture of belonging?

The following aspects should be considered to foster a sense of belonging:
1. Understanding the Concept of Belonging: According to research by Coqual, there are four elements critical to fostering belonging:
a. Feeling seen (recognition, awards, respect from colleagues)
b. Feeling connected (authentic interactions with peers, managers, and senior leaders)
c. Feeling supported (by peers, managers, and senior leaders, providing everything needed to perform work)
d. Feeling proud (of your work and organization)
2. Leadership Commitment:
a. Promote/select diverse and people-oriented talent into leadership positions
b. Encourage role models at all levels of the organization (senior leaders, managers, employees) to embrace the responsibility for making people feel supported, seen, and connected
3. Frameworks and Policies: Develop and implement frameworks and procedures to foster and maintain inclusion and psychological safety
4. Accountability: Establish metrics and accountability measures so that no one can ignore the commitment to fostering a culture of belonging

Responsibility for creating a culture of belonging lies with every employee of the organization, regardless of their position or experience. A heavier duty falls on senior leadership to be role models that people could follow. Nevertheless, the peer role is vital because feeling seen and appreciated by a fellow colleague is often more meaningful than receiving a shiny award. After all, ‘we’re in this together.’

At the end, the existence of belonging proves that all strategies and policies we put in place to create and maintain diversity, equity and inclusion really work in practice. The sense of belonging makes our corporate life more meaningful and deepens our connection to what we do. The sense of belonging is the main driver for us to stay and go through the challenging times to make things better.

"Being your true self is the highway to success".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top