Study: 1/3 of employees feel the greatest sense of belonging at work

Good news for employers: a third of workers feel the greatest sense of belonging in the workplace, according to EY’s Belonging Barometer study.

The workplace came second in this regard, with 62% of survey respondents feeling a greater sense of belonging in their home.

While today’s social climate has been associated with controversy and disagreements, this study suggests it also seems to be banding people together in a more positive way, both at home and at work.

EY suggest that “Regardless of background, gender, sexual orientation or race, individuals are coming together in search of a sense of community and belonging, with many expecting and finding it within the workplace. In fact, in the context of work, research shows that when people feel like they belong, they are more productive, motivated and engaged as well as 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their full, innovative potential”.

More than half of respondents (56 percent) said they belong when they feel they are trusted and respected, while 39 percent felt like they belong when having the ability to speak freely and voice their opinion.

Critically, the study also found that a simple “how are you?” can go a long way. Across all generations, the “check-in” —  a small act that recognizes concern for someone’s well-being, both personally and professionally — took priority over actions such as public recognition (23 percent), being invited to out of office events (20 percent), being asked to join a meeting with senior leaders (14 percent) and being included on emails with senior leaders (9 percent).

What can organizations do to improve a sense of belonging among employees?

“We believe that true belonging can only happen when people across all generations and levels band together and lead inclusively,” said Karyn Twaronite, EY’s global diversity and inclusiveness officer.

“We recommend organizations set the tone from the top, cascading awareness about the importance of employees’ individual differences across the firm and recognizing and rewarding both diverse and inclusive role models. We also encourage all employees to learn about each other and value each other’s differences. Workplaces can encourage courageous conversations so that colleagues can learn from each other’s experiences.”

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