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12 Oct 2021

The case for belonging: how social support drives employee inclusion

One in three people look for their greatest sense of belonging not at home, but at work according to a survey by Ernst & Young. And companies that foster inclusion are able to build the reserves of goodwill required when work demands (and stress levels) rise.


The recipe for belonging and social support

In order to feel we belong, we must first work in an environment that is conducive to a sense of belonging and inclusion. Here are some prerequisites:

  • A culture of safety and equity – Simply put, employees must trust that they will not suffer negative consequences for expressing their true selves at work. They look for a sense of fairness and orderliness, in which equal, equitable treatment matters.
  • A culture of celebration – By marking special occasions and life events (whether happy or difficult), you allow employees to bring their whole selves into the workplace. According to Workhuman research, employees were 10% more likely to say they felt they belonged at their company if they had five or more life events celebrated at work, and 14% more likely to say they felt their company had a very human work culture.
  • A culture of generosity – One way to avoid that endless set of Wednesdays and amplify belonging is through social exchange: the giving of gifts. This kind of exchange underscores the connection between colleagues and helps build trust.

How do you increase your employees’ sense of belonging?

Celebrating life events and milestones can help encourage employees to come together and increase their overall sense of belonging. Here are six ways shared life events contribute to an inclusive organisational culture:

1. They create opportunities for social exchange

Celebrating life milestones such as an educational achievement, new child, new union, new home or significant goal attainment gives your employees the opportunity to give to one another in a meaningful way and reinforce their relationships.

2. They leverage the power of stories

Sharing life events reinforces the power of authentic emotional connections by allowing employees to tell and share text and visual stories about their experiences inside and outside of work and invite co-workers into their shared emotional space.

3. They make work a safe, inclusive place to bring the whole self

Sharing life events can help create a safe place for people to share their personal milestones, as well as professional ones. Plus, making this platform available to all ensures that employees have socially safe, equal and fair access to celebrations.

4. They establish a buffer of positivity.

Sharing personal milestones helps ensure that positive interactions outweigh negative interactions at work by creating a flow of celebratory, emotionally heartfelt, empathetic and positive interactions across diverse workgroups.

5. They encourage friendships.

Having a best friend at work makes a significant difference in levels of employee engagement. Sharing life events lays the groundwork for more authentic, genuine relationships by enabling both social exchange and social support.

6. They activate support networks.

Sharing life events increases levels of empathy and establishes an infrastructure that empowers workers to provide emotional and tangible support for each other, both during happy milestones and during times of sickness or bereavement.

This article is provided by Workhuman. 

In partnership with Workhuman

Workhuman is a provider of social recognition and continuous performance management software.

Contact us today

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