“Belonging is the most human, familiar, relatable and impactful driver of engagement, performance, and retention that YOU’RE NOT USING.”
There’s a reason this serves as the opening line to my keynote: “RED CARPETING Your Culture With Belonging.” I am amazed that organizational culture has made great leaps in embracing vulnerability, authenticity, and inclusive leadership but has not focused as much on belonging, which can be springbpard for all three if properly cultivated.
Belonging is the low-hanging fruit we’re by-passing. If it was a TV show, it would likely win an Emmy for the “Best Show You’re Not Watching.” It is familiar, and its impact is far-reaching. Most, if not all of us, are familiar with what it means to belong. Belonging is relatable in that we have at some point in our lives felt the pinch or sucker punch of being excluded or not feeling a sense of belonging. And it is impactful as we know or have read about countless examples of exclusion (like Jim Crow or apartheid laws), or from our very own lived experiences, but also from the positive impact of having friends, family or coworkers who love and accept us as we are.
During the pandemic, many leaders, brands and organizations looked to age-old engagement tools to navigate the challenges that high attrition, low morale and low productivity were presenting to their businesses. Belonging, which has often been limited almost exclusively to the diversity, equity, and inclusion dialogue and strategy was not tapped into nearly as much as it should have been. But it’s been gaining attention particularly in the context of employee engagement and retention. In fact, a 2021 report by McKinsey revealed that when employees were asked to cite the reasons they quit their jobs during the Great Resignation, these three reasons were most cited:
– I not feel valued by my organization (54%)
– I do not feel valued by my manager (52%)
– I do not feel a sense of belonging at work. (51%)
That’s over half of employees! Perhaps your workforce. Action is required. And a good place to start is to introduce leaders, brands and organizations to something I’ve coined the 3 Belonging Imperatives. The imperatives explain why cultivating a culture of belonging is a great strategic move for leaders, brands and organizations who want to inject a fresh approach to their strategies on employee and customer engagement, retention, recruitment, and of course, diversity equity and inclusion.
The human imperative for workplace belonging unsurprisingly, speaks to our human connection and need for belonging. The human imperative shows that:
The Key Takeaways: Because the need to belong is a human need, emotion and motivator of human behavior, those leaders, brands and organizations that meet this need will be meeting their people’s emotional and social need.
The timing imperative highlights these points about Belonging:
The Key Takeaway: Because we spend most of our waking hours at work over the course of a 79-year life span, and because work can create some of life’s biggest stressors, leaders, brands and organizations that can effectively cultivate a culture of belonging can make the work experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.
The success imperative demonstrates that cultures of belonging see success travel in both the direction of the individual and the organization, leader or brand. Specifically:
The Key Takeaway: Higher levels of belongingness translate into greater employee performance, productivity, engagement and collaboration.
As a leader brand or organization, if belonging is not at the heart of your team, brand or workplace culture today, consider this a call to action. I am inviting you to put yourself at a competitive advantage by making belonging a core part of your strategy on Employee and customer engagement, recruitment, diversity equity inclusion, and retention.