Belongingness – a culture that rewards

Recently we were featured on a podcast about being patient. The discussion got a little deeper and went in the direction of what do we truly want? The group explored how people generally want to feel within themselves. I brought up the point that deep down, everyone wants to feel that they belong.

Ask yourself, what do you want to belong to in this moment? The feeling of being connected and truly belonging to the group has great rewards. People have an innate sense and desire to feel connected to the people that they’re talking to or the group that they aspire to be part of.

Belonging applies to all ages. If you look at kids, they aspire to be part of the club on the playground. Adolescents aspire to be part of a social circle or sports team. Adults aspire to be part of a group of friends that they admire. In the corporate world, employees want to truly belong and, to feel seen for their contributions to the organization. This can be shown by:

  1. Attempting to fit-in, mold, adapt to the company culture
  2. Spending time in conversations to build rapport with co-workers
  3. Working hard on a project for recognition and acknowledgment

On the individual front, belonging brings about a felt sense of pride and respect. It feels good to belong. It feels like “I’ve arrived,” or “ I’m in my comfort zone” or “I’m in the place I need to be in.” Individuals that have this felt sense, experience lower anxiety, stress resilience, and higher performance.

What happens when we don’t have this felt sense of belonging? There is more anxiety and perhaps the environment is viewed as not being safe. Safety is paramount for establishing a culture which encourages belonging. This is where leadership has a responsibility to create a safe environment. If the employee doesn’t feel like they belong to the team, they start to retract, lack participation, and ultimately disengage. They might just be going through the motions right until the end.

Creating a culture of belonging isn’t always easy, but with the right focus from leadership and if each individual does their work to grow in awareness, mindset and security, then belongingness culture can flourish.  If done with small steps, purpose, and commitment, over time the implicit-personal and explicit-performance rewards are tremendous.


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