Employees may feel unappreciated, undervalued, and isolated in their workplaces for many reasons. As a result, productivity declines, causing them to silently disengage or ultimately quit their jobs.
To remedy the situation and create an inclusive workplace environment where everyone feels accepted, it’s crucial to complement your efforts with deliberate strategies that embrace diversity.
We discuss practical tips to help you foster a sense of belonging in the workplace and create a thriving company culture where everybody feels welcomed, engaged, and included.
Why Do Employees Experience a Sense of Exclusion in the Workplace?
Employees can feel left out of their jobs for various reasons. Here are some common factors that contribute to this feeling:
1. Poor Communication
Communication gaps creep in when employees don’t receive timely and relevant information about company updates, changes, or critical decisions. This can create a sense of exclusion and disconnection.
2. Cliques or Exclusionary Behavior
Cliques or exclusive groups can form, making it challenging for others to feel included. This can occur when certain employees create tight-knit circles, leaving others feeling left out or marginalized.
3. Limited Involvement in Decision-Making
When employees are not involved in the decision-making process, or their opinions and ideas are not considered, they may feel excluded. This tends to create the impression that their voice doesn’t matter.
4. Lack of Recognition and Appreciation
Recognition can quickly motivate employees and make their efforts worthwhile. When their contributions and achievements are unnoticed or unappreciated, they may feel undervalued, leaving them to think that their work is either inadequate or doesn’t impact the company.
5. Bias and Discrimination
Biases and discrimination are already huge issues in our society. If not addressed within the workplace, it may create an unwelcoming environment, leading to isolation and marginalization.
11 Key Elements Necessary for Cultivating a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace
Creating an inclusive work environment requires active steps rather than passive ones. If you want to foster an environment where everyone is accepted in their community, empower your workforce to thrive and contribute their best.
1. Diversity and Inclusion Policies
According to Gartner, 70 percent of employees feel that their organization fails to effectively communicate information about opportunities to promote inclusion in their day-to-day work.¹
So, make sure that you’re creating comprehensive policies that outline your company’s commitment to DEI initiatives. This policy should clearly articulate the values, goals, and expectations related to DEI. Educate employees on unconscious bias, cultural competency, and inclusive behaviors.
2. Leadership Commitment to DEI
When employees see how leaders within the organization treat everyone, they’ll likely imitate this behavior and follow suit.
Provide training and support for managers and leaders to enhance their communication and leadership skills. Help them understand the importance of inclusivity and provide them with resources for creating an inclusive and supportive work environment.
3. Culture of Respect
Emphasize the importance of listening to different perspectives and valuing diverse opinions. The goal is to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves openly and respectfully.
To reinforce this effort, create clear guidelines for respectful behavior, including zero tolerance for:
- Exclusionary practices
4. Collaborations Across Departments
Encourage teamwork among employees from various departments, levels, and backgrounds. You can also consider establishing mentorship programs that pair experienced employees with newer ones to provide:
- Growth opportunities
This fosters connections, strengthens relationships, and addresses the issues of favoritism and cliques. You can break up the wall of exclusionary practices by encouraging avenues for collaboration.
5. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Support and encourage the formation of ERGs, which are voluntary, employee-led groups based on shared characteristics or experiences, such as:
- LGBTQ+ identity
These groups provide a platform for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for inclusivity within the organization.
6. Inclusive Employee Benefits
Another insight from Gartner is that benefits and compensation initiatives can increase feelings of inclusion by 38 percent.²
So, consider implementing policies that promote work-life balance and accommodate employees’ diverse needs, such as:
- Flexible work hours
- Remote work options
- Gender-affirming benefits
- Parental leave
7. Diversity in Recruitment and Hiring Practices
To help understand the importance of diversity in the workplace, widen your talent pool by:
- Actively recruiting from diverse sources
- Attending job fairs targeting underrepresented groups
- Partnering with staffing firms
Review and revise job descriptions, qualifications, and interview processes to eliminate bias.
8. Employee Participation and Feedback
Involve employees in decision-making processes whenever possible. Seek their input, and provide opportunities for them to contribute to the organization’s growth through feedback and suggestions.
Implement changes where appropriate, and communicate the outcomes to demonstrate that their voices are heard and valued. In turn, you arm yourself with valuable ideas that can help you in business processes, decisions, protocols, and overall improvement.
9. Mentorship and Career Development
Offer mentorship programs that connect employees from different backgrounds and levels of experience.
Provide equal opportunities for career advancement, and ensure that performance evaluations and promotions are based on merit rather than any bias, such as gender, age, educational background, ethnicity, or favoritism.
10. Recognition of Cultural Celebrations
Acknowledge different cultural holidays, observances, and diversity awareness months. You can also encourage employees to share their cultural traditions and experiences so everyone can stay informed.
Benefits of Workplace Belonging
Creating an inclusively well-respected workplace benefits you as well. It’s a win-win situation that you ought to consider to create a better employer-employee relationship that goes beyond responsibilities and norms.
1. Improved Employee Engagement and Retention
Employee engagement has become a crucial factor in determining organizational success.
According to a Gallup study, highly engaged teams are 18 percent more productive and have 43 percent less turnover.³ When employees experience a sense of belonging, their levels of engagement increase, and they are likely to stay with the organization for a longer period.
They develop a deeper connection to their work and their colleagues. They are more likely to be focused and aware of their responsibilities, contributing more to the organization’s goals.
2. Enhanced Creativity and Innovation
If you foster belonging within your organization, employees can be more comfortable:
- Expressing their ideas
- Taking risks
- Engaging in creative thinking
- Contributing unique perspectives
- Challenging the status quo
Organizations prioritizing belonging can harness their employees’ creativity and innovation potential to drive continuous improvement and stay ahead in a rapidly changing business landscape.
3. Positive Organizational Culture and Reputation
In today’s interconnected world, a positive organizational culture and reputation can significantly impact recruitment efforts, customer loyalty, and overall business success. According to a survey by LinkedIn, 75 percent of professionals would not apply to a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.⁴
When employees experience a strong sense of belonging, they become brand ambassadors, speaking positively about the organization. This, in turn, attracts top candidates, enhances customer loyalty, and strengthens the company’s reputation in the marketplace.
PARTNER WITH STRATEGIC SYSTEMS AND LET US DIVERSIFY YOUR HIRING PROCESS
Diversity in the workplace promotes the exchange of ideas, perspectives, and experiences, which can enhance creativity and innovation. If you need to intensify your diversity and inclusion initiatives by employing diverse groups, Strategic Systems is here to help.
We strongly believe that every individual is unique and shouldn’t be evaluated on certain biases. It’s all about hiring professionals suitable for a job role regardless of who they are. Our services cover a wide range of IT staffing solutions, including outsourcing, direct placement, contract, and contract-to-hire.
So, Whether you’re looking for temporary or long-term hires, contact us today to discuss your business needs.
1. Orlando, Fla. “Gartner Says Diversity and Inclusion Are the No. 1 Talent Management Priority for CEOs; Most D&I Initiatives Ineffective.” Gartner, 30 Oct. 2019, www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019.
2. Wiles, Jackie and Turner, Jordan. “3 Ways to Build a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace.” Gartner, 29 Apr. 2023, www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/build-a-sense-of-belonging-in-the-workplace.
3. “The Benefits of Employee Engagement.” Gallup, 7 Jan. 2023, www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.
4. Thakkar, Rinku. “Top 100 Hiring Statistics for 2022.” LinkedIn, 16 Jul. 2022, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-100-hiring-statistics-2022.