Belonging In The Workplace: What Is It And Why Does It Matter

Creating a sense of belonging in the workplace can be a powerful way to keep employees within your entire organization.

According to the Center for Talent Innovation [download], when people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, and engaged, thus making them 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential.

That said, the idea of belonging is a vague term that dangerously borders into buzzword territory. Overdoing it can put you at risk of potentially harmful hiring practices.

If you’re looking to cut down your risks as you build your company culture, having employment practices liability insurance can help...

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What Is Belonging In The Workplace?

Belonging in the workplace isn’t as easy as putting people together within a building. The definition and the steps are taken to create a sense of belonging work for organizations open to change. 

Defining a sense of belonging is easier said than done. It’s more about the results of belonging than the actual feeling.

Belonging is a need everyone feels; that feeling is created through meaningful connections at work. It includes a sense of authenticity, community, and fellowship. 

Employees feel a sense of belonging at work when they know they are working with a team, have an understanding of their role, and feel appreciated.

They feel like they belong when they share values with coworkers and when their voices are heard, and when they feel they are making a difference at work. 

How Do You Create A Sense Of Belonging?

According to information by Deloitte, three mutually reinforcing attributes allow a workplace to foster belonging within its people.

These include:

  • Comfort
  • Connection
  • Contribution

Employees feel comfortable at work and are more likely to connect with the people around them. People want fair, equitable treatment at work; many would not have it any other way.

Connections within the organization allow an employee to see the workplace beyond its four walls. This helps employees connect to the organization’s goals, giving them a chance to see value within themselves, the team, and what the company wants for its future.

Individuals not only want to feel comfort and connection, but they also want to contribute to the organization. Being part of a company means creating meaningful outcomes and building achievements while giving them purpose.

Belonging requires being mindful of company culture. It’s more than just creating a cool office space: it’s about taking specific actions to develop a sense of connection that transcends the work day.

READ NEXT: How To Protect Your Business Against Employee Lawsuits

Why Is A Sense Of Belonging Important

In most places of employment, there are no barriers between work and home. The workspace bleeds into personal lives. Because of this, creating a sense of belonging in the workplace is not only a way to create happier employees but also a way to cut down on absenteeism.  

Creating a welcoming culture is one of the easiest and most effective ways to bring success to your company.

Employees who are fulfilled at work are more likely to meet expectations. Employees' self-worth and appreciation contribute to their happiness, decreasing absenteeism and increasing productivity. 

A satisfied, fulfilled employee is less likely to cause a scene or abandon a project. This leads to higher retention rates. When employees know they are part of a community, they are more likely to stay put. 

Risks Of Fostering Belongingness

Promoting a sense of belonging within your company culture has its own risks. Consider the following possible hazards and consider revising your approach to fostering belonging in the workplace.  

When individuals’ sense of belonging is contingent on their level of competition with others, the safe space created by belonging vanishes. The drive toward competition can make individuals feel excluded, creating a feeling of not belonging. 

When a sense of belonging is contingent on a sense of safety, people may be afraid to speak up for fear of being excluded. Lack of protection means people are less likely to try new ideas or build on the ideas of others. 

When a sense of belonging depends on each person feeling similar feelings of belonging, they are less likely to challenge the status quo or self-regulate their behavior.

At the same time, it’s no question that you should foster belonging in the workplace, the way there can be problematic.

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Avoiding Missteps As You Foster Belonging At Work

Some organizations, in their haste to foster belonging at work, may miss crucial elements of the entire development process. Companies that want to create a sense of belonging would do well to avoid taking unnecessary risks toward their goals.

Employees like to feel as if their opinions and needs are being met. They want to feel as if their feedback matters. If you take employee preferences for granted, you will lose them.

Creating open communication and transparent culture can help develop a sense of belonging. It means allowing employees to voice their opinions, thoughts, and concerns in a way that makes them feel valued.

Employees need to feel that their work matters and their contributions are valuable. This is how employees connect to the company.

When employees feel disconnected from the company’s goals or don’t know what they are, they are less likely to be motivated or feel satisfied.  

How Do You Measure Belonging In The Workplace?

To measure the effectiveness of your approach to fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace, you must be able to measure it in the first place. There are several ways for you to do this.   

First, assess the degree of employee satisfaction within your organization. Happy employees are more likely to be fulfilled at work. They are more likely to feel a sense of belonging when their workplace is a positive, productive place. 

Second, assess your organization’s employee turnover levels. A high turnover rate likely means employees don’t feel they belong or think their needs aren’t being met. 

See if an independent, third-party survey can help find key performance indicators to see if your employees truly believe they belong.

How Employment Practices Liability Insurance Help

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a type of insurance that helps protect businesses from claims, including wrongful termination, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

EPLI protects businesses against these claims, so they don’t interrupt everyday operations (watch video breakdown). 

Employees might be encouraged to take risks and express themselves more freely when creating a sense of belonging. That might mean that employees express themselves in ways that reasonably lead to issues that can make them overstep their boundaries, resulting in potential liabilities for the organization. 

EPLI is designed to cover those scenarios. Policies that cover EPLI provide coverage for legal defense and court costs, settlements, and judgments for covered claims.

These policies cover: 

  • Discrimination and harassment claims 
  • Failure to promote
  • Failure to employ
  • Negligent evaluation 
  • Breach of fiduciary duty

EPLI can help you protect your organization from negligence claims arising from wrongful acts such as bullying or other forms of harassment. Employment practices liability insurance can protect against the cost of litigation and provide financial coverage if your organization is found liable for the claim.

If your organization wants to foster a sense of belonging, EPLI can work as your safety net against the financial consequences of certain employee-related claims. 

Foster Belonging In The Workplace Starting Today

A sense of belonging in the workplace fosters employee satisfaction, motivation, and fulfillment. It reduces absenteeism, increases productivity and morale, and helps retain talent. Managers must foster a sense of belonging without crossing the line.  

There are several different ways to foster a comfortable, inclusive workplace. EPLI can be your safety net as you try new approaches and build your culture. 

Once you’ve fostered a sense of belonging in the workplace, you must continue to assess how employees feel in the environment. This might mean you need to change specific policies or reassess your approach to fostering belonging in the workplace. 

Creating a sense of belonging is essential in today’s workplace. Fostering a sense of belonging is worth the effort; employee retention and satisfaction depend on it.

At Rogue Risk, we believe a solid commercial insurance program provides the sustainability needed for businesses to take the necessary risks for profitable growth.

If this is the relationship you want with your insurance broker, we would love to talk to you.

I look forward to introducing you to a new way of viewing your insurance program.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley


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