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Team performance: Belonging – an enabler for culture change

Dr Michael Reilly is a qualified Psychologist and Director at Change Corp. He has previously worked with NHS and public sector organisations on transformation projects such as digital patient pathways, managing change, online mental health services for patients and online education portals for GPs.

Keeping well – happy faces

In my last post I discussed the results of the Deloitte Global Trends 2020 report. They noted that Wellbeing was the most important factor for those 9,000 global companies surveyed. Interestingly, the second most important issue is the sense of belonging to the enterprise. This reflects what Deloitte call a “huge human capital issue” and out of the survey Culture and Leadership are the most important enablers to create that sense of belonging.

In this post I would like to explore what “belonging” means and the implications for organisations, managers and team leaders.

As the report says:

“Technology creates a world where anything and everything can be individualized; yet humans desire a sense of belonging to a larger whole. Our survey results reinforce that belonging is a concern: seventy-nine percent of respondents said that “fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce” was important or very important to their organization’s success in the next 12 to 18 months”.

Belonging is defined as the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group or place.

In order to build a sense of belonging among employees at your company, you must first embrace and put into practice a commitment to diversity and inclusion…

Workology on belonging and why it matters

A feeling of belonging at a company has the strongest relationship to engagement. This means that belonging has a high correlation to business outcomes like productivity and retention.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers have been forced to work remotely. Human beings are social creatures, we crave contact with others and we are stimulated by sharing ideas and thoughts. So team leaders need to re-set, and ensure that remote workers are engaged and belonging is key to that engagement – there is common purpose, shared values and hopes. Lack of belonging can have a direct and negative impact on productivity, retention and wellbeing. [1]

Team leaders need to be able to structure their teams and thereafter engage with team members to ensure inclusion which in turn fosters engagement. The Covid-19 external world can amplify anxiety and negatively affect wellbeing. This can lead to feelings of exclusion – these feelings need to be acknowledged and addressed. More than ever, we must focus on what we can control and kick down the road things we cannot control. But we must be aware – lack of belonging has a cost to the business that can be significant and there must be investment into ensuring belonging in all businesses.

Find out more about our learning journey to inspire leadership with Team Leaders for the future…

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[1] The Value of Belonging at Work – Harvard Business Review, December 2019