Now, consider how many of them are actually feeling that way every day?
In 2017, LinkedIn posted a piece that listed what more than 14,000 global professionals said gave them a sense of belonging at work. Here’s what they said:
1. Being recognized for my accomplishments (59%)
2. Having opportunities to express my opinions freely (51%)
3. Feeling that my contributions in team meetings are valued (50%)
4. Feeling comfortable with myself at work (50%)
5. Transparent communication about important company developments (48%)
6. Feeling my team/company cares about me as a person (46%)
7. Feedback on my personal growth (39%)
8. Being assigned work deemed important for the team/company (39%)
9. Having the company values align with my own personal values (37%)
10. Being a part of company meetings (24%)
How many of those cues does your team experience daily? And, as a leader in your organization, what role do you play in helping deliver those experiences? Belonging takes a village — a village that must be owned by everyone in it.
It’s not a want. It’s a need.
Of all the foundational elements for a transcendent company culture, belonging may be the most crucial. It’s our need to belong that pushes us to seek out lasting relationships. When we feel we belong, we stay. We stick. And when we don’t, we don’t. Consider last year’s “great resignation.” In 2021, 25 percent of the American workforce turned over. The other 75 percent thought about it. As a rule, people who genuinely feel the support and stability of belonging don’t leave. Consider the financial ramifications of that. What is the monetary value of maintaining your team and not having to manage through constant turnover? When you’re building company culture, belonging is fundamental. But it goes even deeper than that.
In 2017, Business Insider posted a story from Inc. magazine that quoted a clinical review of nearly 150 studies with more than 300,000 participants. It concluded this: “People with close friendships had a 50% better chance of survival regardless of age, sex, health status and cause of death than those with weaker ties.” Not a happy life. Not a fulfilling job. Survival. That’s how important belonging is.
It’s time to get personal.
Renowned expert on shame, vulnerability, and leadership Brené Brown frames belonging this way: “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” For some company leaders, that may all sound a little personal for work. I’d like to suggest getting personal is exactly what our companies need more of.
When we talk about building company culture, it can sound like an inorganic, procedural box to be checked, like you simply build it and move on. That’s not how it works.