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Why Belonging at Work Matters More Now Than Ever

By Elisa van Dam
February 10, 2022
Belonging at work


Belonging has become a critical topic in today’s workforce. Employers who are struggling with the “great resignation” are trying to create more attractive work cultures. Individuals who are increasingly suffering from burnout are looking for ways to find more fulfillment at work. For our Fall 2021 research survey we wanted to understand more about what belonging means, how to create the conditions that foster belonging, and why it matters. Read on for our top findings!

Belonging Matters

What we learned reinforced the importance of belonging – 90% of our respondents agree that a sense of belonging is important in the workplace. It also pointed to some clear actions that individuals, managers, and organizations can take to increase belonging for themselves and others.

Here are our top findings:

  • Most people feel a sense of belonging at work: A great majority of our respondents (82%) say they feel like they belong.
  • There are significant differences based on race/ethnicity: White respondents have the highest ratings, followed by Asian respondents and then Black respondents.
  • Working collaboratively and being authentic are more important than sharing social identity: Sharing a common social identity is among the lowest rated of 11 possible factors that contribute to a sense of belonging at work (it is the lowest rated for White and Asian respondents, and in the bottom three for Black respondents).
  • Belonging is good for individuals: According to our respondents, when they feel a sense of belonging, they are more engaged, confident, inspired and happier. They also feel more connected to their colleagues.
  • It’s also good for organizations: These feelings translate to positive outcomes for the organization. The top answers to, “What is the impact when you feel like you belong,” are:
    • I am more likely to go “above and beyond” for my organization
    • I am more able to do my best work
    • I build stronger relationships with my colleagues

Our top recommendations for increasing belonging at work include:

  • Show that you value your team members: Value your direct reports’ perspectives by soliciting their opinions, thoughts and insights when making decisions. This is the top response from respondents about how managers make them feel that they belong.
  • Be intentional about including everyone: Look at who you’re communicating with, whom you invite to meetings, whom you meet for lunch or coffee, and whom you see on a daily basis. Be intentional about not leaving anyone out.
  • Bring your authentic self to work: If you feel it is safe to do so, and you aren’t fully authentic at work today, experiment with sharing more about your personal values and who you are. Find ways to be more open, honest and vulnerable, without crossing the line into oversharing. See our report on The Importance of Authenticity in the Workplace for lots more information on how to be more authentic at work. If you don’t feel safe to be authentic in your workplace, it may be time to consider other options.
  • Create psychological safety: Ensure that all team members can be heard, can make mistakes, and can raise concerns and unpopular opinions without fear of retaliation or ridicule.

You’ll find much more information and additional tools in our report, The Importance of Belonging in the Workplace.