Culture is one of the most important assets that organizations can invest in.   

 

Do you feel like the last two  years has disrupted your company culture?  How do you build a sense of community with so much division, isolation and detachment? 

The COVID-19 pandemic (which we continue to wrestle with) is one of the more obvious events that sent us home and made us feel separate from one another. During this time, other social movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movement contributed to increased feelings of isolation, alienation and disconnection.  

We have lost that sense of community and in the process have lost a sense of relationship and ultimately trust.  Well-being has suffered as a result.  Now on the verge of a possible return to the office how will we begin to repair what has been lost?  Bosses have to admit that productivity in many cases has skyrocketed and workers have no intention in coming back to 5 days a week in the office.  

A SHIFT IN VALUES 

All these experiences of separation have caused a shift in employee values. According to Barrett Values Centre, organizational culture has shifted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic toward a heightened focus on the employee experience and a desire for a more connected, supportive work environment. Some of the new prioritized values in organizational culture that appeared during the pandemic that weren’t there pre-COVID include: 

Caring 

Well-Being (Physical/Emotional/Mental/Spiritual) 

Cross-Group Collaboration 

Cooperation 

Open Communication 

It makes sense that these are what we value most now, especially for companies who were or are working virtually. The digital office is not quite the same as the physical office – the nature of collaboration changes, people can feel isolated and cut-off, and without the common place of the proverbial water cooler or office lunchroom it now requires being intentional in making those connections.  

Workplace belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days.

What all these new values have in common is their intimate relationship to our sense of belonging and inclusion at work. Employees want to be part of their organizations, not just work for them. Shifting the way we work to prioritize and maximize inclusion feeds into each of these values. When organizations can cultivate a work environment that is caring, communicative, and collaborative, employee well-being is enhanced and so is their engagement

Belonging is good for business. Findings from a BetterUp study show that workplace belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days. 

In our experience, high performing organizations are leaning into their core values to keep their strong talent & drive their decision-making now more than ever.

How can your organization tap into vital values to reshape the way you work so that inclusion and belonging become high priority? 

 

REBUILD A SENSE OF COMMUNITY TO AMPLIFY ENGAGEMENT 

We didn’t know how to navigate these new conditions as a collective, and as a result the sense of community in organizations has suffered. This directly impacts employee well-being and engagement, which results in a big drop in productivity and puts the organization at risk of turnover. 

 

According to Gallup, Organizations with high levels of employee engagement achieve 24% less turnover and are 21% more profitable than those with lower engagement. 

How can we foster more inclusive workplaces, and amplify the sense of belonging as we continue to navigate the digital office, prepare for a return to a physical, shared workspace, or a mix of the two?  

Here are five things you and your organization can do to normalize prioritizing connection and create an inclusive culture: 

1. If you treasure it, MEASURE it! 

One of the most effective things organizations can do is to identify how to measure inclusion and feelings of belonging in the workplace. A survey like the Inclusive Health Assessment can enable organizations to identify and highlight potential barriers to inclusion like the unfair application of policies and procedures, or patterns of micro-aggressive behaviour in workgroups.  The key thing to note here is it should never stop at a survey – there absolutely MUST be open dialogue about the results and collaborative discussion and action on how to address the areas of focus that surface. Our team at 1-DEGREE/Shift is experienced in working with organizations to facilitate survey intake and in-depth conversations around the results.  

2. CONNECT with coworkers to bring out belonging 

You may underestimate the impact inclusion and belonging can have on performance. Staff are humans, not resources. When employees feel part of their team and their organization, they become more engaged and energized by their work and as a result their levels of job satisfaction increase. A study by BetterUp found that workplace belonging can lead to an estimated 56% increase in job performance and a 50% reduction in turnover risk. 

Carving the time to engage your coworkers with consideration and authenticity can help dissolve interpersonal barriers. Check in with your coworkers before checking up on any work-related items. One of the vital ingredients in cultivating a culture of belonging at work is to ensure there are consistent channels of communication. This is especially important for larger organizations. Without some regular cadence of communication or space for connection, employees may end up feeling disconnected, disengaged, and detached from the company. 

 3. Cultivate an environment of TRUST (people leaders have particularly important role in increasing psychological safety)

To nurture a culture of inclusion and belonging, creating an environment of trust is a fundamental ingredient. Psychological safety at work is key to unleashing the full potential in individuals and can provide the safe space for innovation & learning. When people are empowered to be themselves at work, they are more engaged and freer to thrive. Leaders can begin to lay the foundations of a more trusting environment by being vulnerable themselves. When leaders learn to recognize their own unconscious biases, limiting beliefs or behaviours, they are bringing awareness to the ways in which they themselves may be contributing to the current state of belonging at work. A leader may recognize they take over conversations in meetings, and so chooses to ensure that they create space for others and invite everyone to the conversation. This protected space enables team members to feel empowered and values. When leaders demonstrate a willingness to make room for and value others’ perspectives, this plants the seeds for inclusive decision-making and co-created strategic intentions. 

4. Be INTENTIONALLY inclusive 

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2020 survey : 79% of survey respondents said that fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce was important to their organization’s success in the next 12–18 months, and 93% agreed that a sense of belonging drives organizational performance. How can organizations ensure they are cultivating an environment that invites everyone to the table? Make it intentional! Build it into your organization’s strategy. Most inclusion initiatives failures happen because there was a lack of long-term planning and a lack of commitment to the change. This is the hardest part of the process – creating the sustainable change and building the structures and processes necessary to keep the intention going. Tying inclusion into your organization’s strategy not only sets an intention, it also enhances accountability and strengthens commitment.  

 5. SHARE a vision and purpose 

Co-creating a shared vision is a powerful tool in strengthening the sense of community and belonging at work. In opening the conversation to everyone instead of concentrating decision-making power to the leadership team, employees are empowered and feel valued. It is difficult to align with an organization whose values or goals do not personally align with your own. Including everyone in this process of developing a clear, shared vision for the future ensures that the vision decided on can excite and inspire everyone, no matter their job function. When colleagues are actively working together towards a common, resonating goal, their sense of belonging is amplified. A shared vision inspires ownership, commitment and employees can participate in meaningful work. 

A study by McKinsey & Company found that when employees find their work to be meaningful, their performance improves by 33%, they are 75% percent more committed to their organization, and are 49% percent less likely to leave. 

Employees are looking for an ability to contribute to a purpose, or significant “why”. Ensuring that your organization’s purpose resonates with all employees is vital. Being able to participate in meaningful work and see that the work is making an impact is a key engagement driver and contribute to a shared sense of community. 

Interested in exploring further? Join us on April 28th 11:00am-12:30pm ET for a virtual conversation for executives around how to tap into vital values to reshape the way we work and elevate engagement. Register Here!  

If you’re curious to learn more about how the Inclusive Health Assessment can help support your organization’s commitment to fostering inclusion at work, let’s connect!