It's no secret that people who believe they belong to a particular culture or group are able to thrive within it. Birds of a feather flock together. When employees perceive themselves as belonging to an organization’s culture, they are more likely to be engaged, productive, and thrive at work.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents to 2020 Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report agreed that a sense of belonging in the workforce was important to their organization’s success. Belonging, well-being, and diversity all continue to climb the ranks of important organizational drivers of success. In fact, a 2019 study found that belonging can lead to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days.
External factors like a polarized society at large could be negatively impacting employees’ sense of belonging, creating a business imperative to develop solutions in the workplace. The World Economic Forum has observed increased “public frustration with the status quo” and the “division of groups into ‘us vs them’” in the US, UK, and others.
This year’s abrupt global shift to remote work also impacts belonging. The number of people who regularly work remotely has increased by 173% since 2005. Technology paradoxically increases loneliness, and simply operating from a remote location can quickly alienate an individual employee from the organization’s sense of community.
Deloitte finds that an employee’s sense of belonging consists of three key attributes: comfort, connection, and contribution. Employees should feel comfortable in their working environments: inclusion, fairness, and diversity play a key role in building a winning culture. They should feel connected to their organization and the people they work with. Employees are more productive when they maintain meaningful working relationships with coworkers and when their values are aligned with those of their employer. They should feel that they contribute to the organization and that their contributions are recognized. Organizations that establish an inclusive culture are twice as likely to meet and exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times as likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.