Connection & Belonging

A study by the University of Iowa recently found that a sense of belonging and attachment to a group of co-workers is a better motivator for some employees than money.

In her book “Daring Greatly” Brene Brown writes about the importance of belonging, and how it relates to employee engagement. She makes a distinction between fitting in and belonging that is worth sharing.  She writes, “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are. Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us.”

You can influence a sense of belonging by creating an environment that allows employees to feel appreciated, accepted, respected and providing opportunities to express their ideas.

Ask yourself what you can do to foster a sense of belonging in your group. Why would they want to belong to your group or organization? Help them discover what is important to them. Fostering an environment where people feel like they can be themselves, where they can engage with work that is meaningful for them personally, where they are accepted and appreciated for who they are, will give you the motivated, cohesive and highly engaged team you are wanting to create.

As humans we are hardwired for connection and belonging. How we attain it is as unique and individual as our own fingerprint. We often assume that to engage the hearts and minds of our empoyees we need to get "buy in" and we need to conjole, convince, or sell them on our ideas. These approaches may get engagement for temporary periods, but it won't create long-term  loyalty. Creating a culture where employees are seen and heard fosters a type of engagement that fuels itself. People show up willingly giving their best work because the company's success is in alignment with what they stand for as individuals.