The importance of making employees feel like they belong

Recognition expert discusses how employers can boost engagement, retention and morale through a sense of belonging

The importance of making employees feel like they belong

In times of stress and uncertainty, the importance of meaningful connections can’t be overstated.

Organisations worldwide are now facing a third year of uncertainty and rapid change. There has been a “seismic shift” in talent supply and demand, and employees are operating under increasingly heightened stress. In this environment, resilience is crucial - and to build resilience, employers need to foster a a strong sense of connection and belonging among their staff.

According to Mark Barling, RVP Sales-APAC at Achievers, HR leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the need for employees to feel welcomed, supported and connected. However, they have struggled to reshape their existing employee experience to deliver this sense of belonging.

“It is known that employees with a strong sense of belonging are 2x as likely to be engage, leading to higher productivity, resilience, and a more enthusiastic and committed experience,” Barling says.

“People with a supportive manager are 2.2x more likely to feel that they belong at work. For companies and leaders that can’t accept the shift in this new world of work or are slow in adapting, it will continue to have an impact on their overall culture and engagement.”

Barling says the first step in meeting this challenge is to re-examine your people strategy, and reflect on how well it meets the challenges of today. When it comes to boosting the employee experience, recognition is a great starting point. It helps to reinforce the desired behaviours, and also boosts morale and deepens employee connection.

He notes that frequency is also key, as frequent appreciation can become a great tool to build a strong culture.

“Recognition is a powerhouse engagement tool on so many levels,” Barling says. “A strong culture of recognition can also help retain talent by competing beyond salary and standard benefits and perks.”

There is no doubt that the definition of a “successful workplace” has evolved hugely over the past three years. Organisations and employees have had to navigate the pandemic and everything that’s come with it, but throughout all the uncertainty, one thing has remained consistent - the need for connection.

To help employers establish a strong culture of belonging, the Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI) has developed the AWI Belonging Model. This consists of five key pillars - Welcomed, Known, Included, Supported and Connected - which describe different methods of boosting connection and resilience.

“As employees continue to adapt to the changing workplace environment, these five pillars will work to establish a sense of belonging for all employees,” Barling says.

“This factor is crucial in creating a resilient and motivated workforce — one that is both committed to the organisation and acts as company advocates.”

To learn more about the AWI Belonging Model and how Achievers customers are making it work for them, join the Achievers webinar on March 10th.

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