The importance of a feeling of belonging

During a recent corporate coaching assignment, a client casually mentioned that one of his main motivators for high performance, intense effort and time given was the feeling that he belonged in the organization. The full impact of this wonderfully simple statement only really hit home when we realized the implications of the statement a few days later. More discussions with colleagues who felt the same way — in addition to reflecting on our own feelings about companies we had worked for and with — fueled our interest further.

Feeling a sense of belonging is, after all, what helps to hold nations, families, educational establishments and places of mutual interests together. It is therefore not surprising that it can be the catalyst for organizational loyalty, performance, longevity of service and consistency. Given its relevance, do we pay enough attention to it?

Acknowledging the relevance is a good start, and the second stage could be examining the organization to see if it exists or not. Positive signs would be people keeping good time (even over what is expected), happy smiling faces, a positive working environment and a real enthusiasm about the products, services and customers.

Regardless of the levels to which the working environment displays the feeling there is much that can be done to improve it or start to encourage it. Examples are strong, open and honest team communications; relevant and well-attended social and business events and activities; and simple management presence in important tipping-point areas and interfaces.

None of this is rocket science, and it is relatively easy and costs little to implement. However, the benefits to the well-being of the organization — and, ultimately, the profits of the business — are enormous.

Have you checked recently to see if your team feels a sense of belonging?