Collaborative article: If you could only do one thing in an organisation to improve the sense of belonging, what would it be?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, creating a sense of belonging among team members has become a critical factor for the success of any organization. When team members feel like they belong and are valued, they are more likely to be engaged, committed, and productive. To explore this topic further, we reached out to a panel of experts from various industries to get their insights on how to foster a sense of belonging in the workplace. In this article, we present their valuable opinions and advice on how leaders can create a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes a sense of belonging among team members.

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”

– Simon Sinek

Raf Uzar

Head of Communication & Development, Penteris

“It doesn’t matter what you look like, and we’re all human inside.”

As a child I used to snuggle up to the soft thick blanket wrapped around my grandmother’s knees, which kept her warm and cosy.

I would always start with the same filial plea: “Grandma – tell me one of your stories, please”. She would sigh, look down at me softly, ruffle my hair and begin…

My grandmother was born in the western part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. Officially, Königreich Galizien und Lodomerien mit dem Großherzogtum Krakau und den Herzogtümern Auschwitz und Zator was a multi-ethnic, poverty-stricken, conflict-ridden land inhabited largely by Poles and Ruthenians. Your average ‘Galician’ frequented either a Catholic church, Greek Catholic tserva, or a Jewish synagogue. An average ‘Lodomerian’ either spoke Polish, Ruthenian, Yiddish, or German.

Lessons from the past

Words like diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) may not have been part of the everyday lexicon of these starved people and would not be heard on their parched lips but the concepts were never far from their minds. Within this troubled community, the willingness and ability to converse, coordinate, and cooperate were worth their weight in gold.

My grandmother would always tell me that “it doesn’t matter what you look like. We’re all human inside”. She survived the death of her first husband, five children, two world wars, forced emigration, Siberian exile, starvation and malnutrition, walking across one continent in order to finally settle in another.

I cannot help thinking that her fierce sense of equality helped her overcome these ordeals and I cannot help believing that achieving a sense of belonging while the world around you is a swirling maelstrom can quite literally be a matter of life and death.

Continue reading Uzar’s Expert Panel: Let your people breathe to let your business grow.

Jill Mytton

GrowHR Solutions Ltd

A sense of belonging is often fostered through the little things that managers do. Showing you appreciate an employee with a kind word or action, using the word “we” more than ” you”. Allowing employees to have a voice and listening to that voice in an open and unbiased way. Doing what you say you are going to do or if change happens explaining why you cannot now follow through. One of the meanings of belonging is to feel happy and comfortable in a place so focusing on employee well-being is extremely important.

Andrew Hyland

Head of People and Culture

For me I think really investing in your organisations values, translating those values into ways of working with each other and your clients, partners and supporters.  For us that is about building trusted relationships with everyone you come in to contact with, being inclusive and really listening to understand people’s perspectives and finally encouraging people to be courageous and speaking up, whether that is discussing your achievements, your development or you see our values not being lived by others.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Michael Jordan

Andy Hale

Managing Director, Hale Engineering

I think the key to improving a sense of belonging in your team is to create opportunities for team members to connect with each other on a personal level. In my team, we have a regular team lunch where we all go our for lunch. It’s a chance for us to chat and catch up on what’s been happening outside of work. We also have a team-building activity twice a year, which could be anything from an escape room to a cooking class. These activities help to build relationships and create a sense of community within the team.

Natasza Kopczynska

Natasza Kopczynska, MBA, Infosys

I believe that transparency and inclusivity are key to building a strong sense of belonging in a team. This means being clear about goals and expectations, and involving team members in decision-making processes. It also means creating a diverse and inclusive team where everyone feels welcome and respected. This can be done by actively recruiting from a range of backgrounds, and providing training and support to promote inclusivity. When team members feel that they are part of a team that values their input and is working towards a common goal, they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging.

Oliwia Ostaszewska

Warsaw Managing Director at Vacancysoft

In my experience, one of the most effective ways to improve a sense of belonging in a team is to make sure everyone feels heard and valued. This means actively listening to team members, taking their opinions seriously, and giving them credit for their contributions. It’s also important to create a culture of psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions without fear of judgment or reprisal. When team members feel heard and valued, they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and commitment to the team.

Dr. Raman K Attri

Founder, GetThereFaster

All employees have good intentions to do a good job and positively contribute to their work so that they can walk back home with a sense of achievement and pride. Once they get that sense of achievement, they feel connected to the teams and ready to contribute to their jobs. When it takes longer to become fully productive in a job, it takes longer to feel that sense of achievement. Correspondingly, they do not feel valued soon enough. The result is that they can’t build their connection with their managers, team members, and the organization. In remote and hybrid worlds, they are likely to quit their job if they are not supported fast enough. Thus, the key strategy should be to implement and track employees’ time-to-proficiency metrics. When you put deliberate efforts to shorten time to proficiency, employees become independently productive and meaningfully contributing in the shortest time possible. It strengthens team connections irrespective of a remote or hybrid environment.

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