How Managers Create Belonging at Work and Why It Matters

In today’s cut-throat corporate world, managers who can effectively create a sense of belonging within their teams have a clear competitive edge. Belonging is not just a feeling of being included but a sense of being valued, respected, and an indispensable part of the team’s success.

Numerous studies have incontrovertibly linked a strong sense of belonging at work to increased job satisfaction, decreased turnover rates, and better performance outcomes.

A sense of belonging at work drives engagement, innovation, and collaboration, the key ingredients for achieving success and excellence.


What Happens in the Absence of Belonging?

The ramifications can be dire when team members feel they don’t belong at work. Teams can experience a rise in conflicts due to misunderstandings or perceived slights. Employees may retreat, becoming disengaged and withholding their best ideas out of fear of being marginalized.

The absence of belonging at work can also lead to increased turnover, as talented individuals seek environments where they feel seen and appreciated. There’s also a detrimental impact on mental well-being, with feelings of isolation and inadequacy leading to increased stress and burnout.

How Can Managers Create a Culture of Belonging at Work?

1. Listen Actively and Empathetically:

The first step towards creating belonging at work is to truly listen. Managers should regularly check in with their team members, giving them the floor to voice their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Active listening involves more than just hearing words; it requires understanding and validation.


2. Encourage Diverse Perspectives:

A team’s strength lies in its diversity. By actively seeking out and valuing varied viewpoints, managers can foster a culture where all members feel their contributions are valuable. Belonging at work can be achieved by creating diverse teams, promoting inclusive brainstorming sessions, and discouraging groupthink.

3. Recognize and Celebrate Achievements:

Regularly acknowledging and praising team members’ contributions instills a sense of value and belonging at work. This recognition can range from simple verbal acknowledgment in team meetings to more formal award systems.

4. Implement Team-Building Activities:

Structured activities encouraging collaboration and understanding can bridge gaps and solidify team bonds. This doesn’t necessarily mean trust falls or ropes courses; even simple activities like sharing personal anecdotes or collaborative projects can create a stronger sense of belonging at work.


5. Advocate for Professional Development:

By supporting team members’ career aspirations and providing growth opportunities, managers clearly communicate: “You are valued, and we believe in your potential.” This boosts morale and creates a sense of loyalty and belonging at work.

6. Set Clear Expectations and Provide Feedback:

Uncertainty can be a significant barrier to belonging. When team members understand their roles, expectations, and where they stand, they’re more likely to feel secure and a sense of belonging at work.

To create belonging at work is to lay the foundation for a thriving, resilient, and engaged team. It’s more than just a feel-good measure; it’s a strategic imperative. Managers equipped with the understanding and tools to foster belonging will invariably see the fruits of their efforts in improved team dynamics, increased productivity, and overall success.


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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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