Do you remember back to your first day at your job? What was it like? Did your manager or co-workers decorate your area? Did they take you out to eat lunch? Did you have a person you could shadow and ask questions of throughout the day? Did you have opportunities to connect with other employees? What about now? Do you feel confident to express your true self? Do you feel that you belong? Do you have a friend at work? How does an organization effectively create a culture where their employees feel that they belong?

“Belonging speaks to not only having a space at the table, being a part of the environment, but also that that environment is one you have ownership in and you are invited to co-create in” Rosanna Durruthy, LinkedIn

Creating an environment of belonging is a best management practice. In Fact, Gallup identified belonging -having a friend at work – as essential for employee engagement. Belonging, however, has special importance when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).

Per Rosanna Durruthy, “Belonging” in the D&I paradigm is ensuring that all individuals within a workforce, regardless of their differences, feel that they can participate at work as their authentic selves. In 2015 McKinsey published a study with staggering statistics revealing that racially diverse companies tend to outperform industry norms by 35%.1 McKinsey’s latest study of diversity in the workplace, Delivering through diversity, reaffirms the global relevance of the link between diversity –defined as a greater proportion of women and a more mixed ethnic and cultural composition in the leadership of large companies– and company financial outperformance. And what about candidates? According to the Glassdoor Diversity Hiring Survey, 67% of active and passive job seekers say that when they are evaluating companies and job offers, it is important that the company has a diverse workforce.2

According to the Report, diversity can be defined as your mix of people while inclusion can be defined by how well your people mix. The idea of belonging may seem like a warm-and fuzzy notion, but the practicality is quite simple; when you allow your employees to feel like they belong to your organization, they will feel more confident in their abilities to represent themselves authentically. People who “belong” feel comfortable expressing ideas, sharing experiences and contributing to a group when they know that their input is valued.2

“Being able to have a relationship with someone who holds a different point of view can be a real gift” Rosanna Durruthy, LinkedIn

The Impact of Belonging

The search term “employee experience” has increased 140% on Google in the last four years. If your employees are enjoying their experience, their performance will be better. So how do companies ensure that their employees have a good experience? You help them belong to your community. Recent findings have shown that belonging to a group of coworkers can be a better motivator than money alone1—imagine that.

The concept of working human — bringing more humanity and social connection to the employee experience continues to gain momentum.3 Organizations that work human go beyond ensuring diversity of backgrounds, race, and gender identity by also honoring diversity of thought and personality. It’s about inspiring a sense of connection, inclusion, and belonging that solidifies a person’s emotional connection with their work and the greater mission of the organization.3 LinkedIn’s Head of Diversity and Belonging reminds us that if we do not foster an environment where people can be their authentic selves, we will never unlock the discretionary potential that allows them to give 150%. It is essential for leaders to connect more directly with the very people who may not feel well-represented in the business.2

The Tie to Recognition

When workers feel they have a human workplace that fosters recognition and appreciation while empowering individuals, strengthening relationships, and providing a clear purpose aligned with achievable goals, they are: 2x as likely to feel like they can grow in the organization; 41% more likely to feel their work has meaning; and 78% more likely to trust their manager.

As organizations become places of shared community, workers are craving a sense of belonging and celebration of life events at work. Workers want to bring their whole, authentic selves to the workplace. Workers are much more likely to be engaged, to recommend your company to a friend, and to work harder when their work culture is grounded in appreciation.

Employees are increasingly searching for meaning in their work, and frequent, values-based recognition is one of the best ways to meet that need. Additionally, when it comes to performance, employees are looking for more frequent check-ins, which ultimately can enhance the manager-employee relationship.3

For people to find meaning in their work, they need frequent validation and recognition that what they do day-to-day matters in the context of the greater goals of the organization.3 The mere presence of a values-based social recognition program makes it more likely that workers will find meaning and purpose in their day-to-day work. Ninety-three percent of those surveyed at companies with recognition programs tied to core values agree the work they do has meaning and purpose. At companies with no formal recognition program, only 81% of workers agree the work they do has meaning and purpose.3

Respondents said the recognition that motivated them the most was crowdsourced recognition from senior leaders, manager, and peers. A majority of respondents (58%) find the monetary reward tied to recognition to be more motivating when it is given in the moment, rather than in the form of an annual bonus.3

Implementing Belonging to your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Make introductions. Show appreciation for the whole person; use the language of belonging: “This is Julie–she is part of our research team.” The word “our” really adds the feeling of being on a team.4

Solicit input in meetings. There are three ways to foster inclusiveness at meetings: Invite someone to the meeting. Ask their opinion, and follow up with questions so they truly felt heard. And when someone speaks, let them finish their thought — do not speak over them.4

Pay attention. Put away devices at meetings. Be fully “present” for conversations with colleagues. Show respect to everyone.4

While these are not the only ways, this point is especially important. Get to know your people: every employee in your business or team has a different story to tell, and you should get to know that story. Communicating with your employees on a deeper level will provide the opportunity to understand their workplace needs and create a more inclusive environment.1

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

I believe It is possible that in the process of helping others feel more included and that they belong, we will all find ourselves feeling more engaged, motivated and with our own stronger sense of belonging. Do something today that helps someone feel like they belong at work…#belonging #inclusion #engagement


  1. Belonging-The Next Evolution Of Diversity & Inclusion
  2. GQR 2018 State of Diversity & Inclusion
  3. Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work
  4. Diversity Efforts Fall Short Unless Employees Feel That they Belong

For more information on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, feel free to explore the blogs below:

She+ Geeks Out
Human Resources and Mission

Authour: Mariella Palacios

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