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09 Mar 2022

Why belonging is important to organisational resilience and mental health

If we belong, we have acceptance and support. Given we spend so much time at work, belonging is important. As well as helping build loyalty, other benefits of belonging include:

  • developing an effective team – it improves employee engagement and performance
  • improving staff morale and wellbeing – it creates a fun workplace and a shared belief in the company's goals and ambitions
  • increasing peer support – it helps employees feel comfortable to raise thoughts and concerns
  • reducing unconscious bias/educating differences – it helps us recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses in the workplace.

 

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Building organisational resilience

Organisational resilience is the ability of an organisation to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper. You can build organisational resilience by having predictable routines, simple rules and improvisation. The sense of belonging to an organisation really impacts how efficiently some of these can be achieved. If you feel included, you’re more likely to ask the ‘silly’ questions, know who to ask them to and feel confident enough to suggest new and different approaches.

Belonging can be interpreted as everyone's voice being welcomed and valued. Employees who bring their full selves to work, share important things about their lives and welcome support from their colleagues and the business, are more likely to feel their opinions are welcomed and valued. Understanding different skills and views may enable employees to approach tasks differently, improvising and adding to processes that will benefit colleagues in future.

Building a safe environment

Being a transparent business is key. It encourages inclusion and builds a community. At PSGS, employees are given an insight into the management board and overall business thinking, so they know why we’re doing things and what’s important. We ask their opinions, keep them in the loop with the latest information and always thank them for the hard work they put in.

Our internal diversity and inclusion (D&I) working group has set up an online safe space for D&I discussions, and wellbeing support sessions to raise awareness and understanding of different strands of D&I. The sessions cover gender diversity, flexible working, ethnicity, age diversity, returning to work, paternity cover, early careers and disability. We know discussions around these subjects may make some people feel uncomfortable, but we’re fostering a culture of openness.

We support our staff working flexibly and understand some have another full-time job besides this one – being parents or carers. They may need to do the school run or be available for self-isolating children or dependents. To reflect more variety in working patterns during lockdowns and home working, we suggested employees update their email signatures with their working days/holiday or a note if they issue emails at unusual times to demonstrate their understanding of being flexible and respectful of people working differently to one another.

Building a (wi-fi) connection

Building a sense of belonging involves creating strong connections – to each other and between a business and its staff. Well before the Covid pandemic, we rolled out laptops to all employees and installed commercial-grade wi-fi networks at each office. This meant when staff took their laptops home they could easily connect to our systems and work just like being in the office. Giving our staff the ability to work from anywhere, gives them flexibility and improves productivity. Quite simply, employees work better if their needs are considered as well as those of the business.

Sharing ideas and experience across our team adds to the feeling of cohesion and togetherness. We’ve used Teams to share information and ideas via our internal ‘hub’, and met regularly via video call. We’re aware of the team’s health and wellbeing and the need to stay connected, especially for those living on their own or new joiners. We responded by setting up small team bubbles and regular team calls for sharing work news and a social place to have a chat, which has continued as business as usual.

Making our employees feel accepted for who they are is important to us, just like belonging is important to them. Our business is built together. In a way, it belongs to all of us.

This article is provided by Punter Southall Governance Services.

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