Creating belonging in your organisation

Belonging is an essential element of feeling included. But how do you ensure every member of your team feels like they belong? Just because you or someone else in the team feel included – doesn’t mean that this is how everyone feels, and you may not know or even understand why someone doesn’t feel like they belong. 

It’s complicated and it takes effort. But remember, the size of the prize is big. If you want an outstanding and exceptional high-performing organisation you need to climb that mountain.

According to Abraham Maslow, satisfying the need to belong is a prerequisite to developing self-esteem and confidence, which in turn is a prerequisite for self-actualization, the motive to realize one’s fullest potential. These higher-order needs require a social context, which is why belonging supports self-esteem in Maslow’s pyramid. The need to belong is driven by evolutionary factors. It is a powerful, fundamental, and extremely pervasive motivation.

Why is belonging important? 

Throughout history, the idea of belonging to a ‘tribe’ or a ‘people’ has helped us to protect and define ourselves. Belonging helps us feel: 

    • valued, needed, and accepted by others 
    • safer 
    • that our beliefs are valid 
    • that our efforts are worthwhile 
    • comforted by being with others who share our interests and values.

BetterUp recently found: Employees with a high sense of belonging take 75% fewer sick days than employees who feel excluded. These sick days equate to almost $2.5 million worth of lost productivity each year, per 10,000 workers.

    • Excluded employees have a 50% higher rate of turnover than employees who feel they belong, costing organisations about $10 million annually per 10,000 employees.
    • Employees see a 56% in job performance when they feel like they belong, resulting in a gain of $52 million per year for every 10,000 employees.

In addition, workers’ careers benefit from belonging. Individuals who felt highly connected at work received twice as many raises and were 18 times more likely to be promoted in a six month period than people who felt excluded.

Finally, BetterUp conducted online simulations of exclusion in team settings and found that excluded people were 25% less productive in working toward their team’s goals.

According to the Harvard Business Review, more than 40% of people feel emotionally and physically isolated at work, a finding that transcends gender, age, and ethnicity. 

Create allies at work

A powerful preventative solution BetterUp found through their simulations was the addition of an ally to the team, defined as “someone who acknowledges and includes you.” With an ally in place, active exclusion by others had no impact on the person being left out, counteracting the 25% productivity loss seen in excluded people who had no ally.

Our program Career IGNITE is designed to create just that. It enables you to create Structured Inclusive Mentoring. Learn more here.

Maureen Frank is a disruptor! She challenges leaders and organizations to get real about inclusion and diversity. She comes to the world of inclusion and diversity from a strong commercial background. Her focus is on ROI and results – not just ticking boxes for the sake of it. Check some of the stories out at