The rise of DE&I practices over the last half-decade have been pronounced and given way to positive, significant workplace and operational changes in the world of work. With companies continuing to expand and innovate their DE&I strategies, many have begun to expand their efforts from DE&I to DEI&B – with the B standing for “belonging.” Currently, many organizations see positive results from the implementation of DEI&B practices but continue to experience issues with employee retention and attraction – largely due to the lack of focus on equity, inclusion, and – now equally importantly – belonging. The results for businesses that have focused on the “belonging,” however, have fared much better; according to a recent Gallup survey, organizations that provide a sense of belonging to their workforce see a decrease in turnover by 27 percent and an increase in productivity by 12 percent.
Employees view belonging, inclusion, and equity as an increasingly important part of their workplace – and their likelihood of turning down or accepting a job offer reflects this. A study found that 39 percent of job seekers declined a job opportunity after viewing a company’s culture as lacking in inclusion, while 47 percent reported they would opt to stay at a company where they felt a sense of inclusion and belonging. Although many employers have familiarized themselves with the practices and strategies of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the nuanced strategies facilitating ‘belonging’ are distinct, noteworthy, and valuable.
So, what are the necessary steps involved in creating a company culture of belonging? Firstly, employees must feel that their opinions are heard and validated. Workplace leaders need to take steps to ensure employees feel heard. Show that you genuinely listen to your team’s perspectives by incorporating their thoughts, solutions, and ideas into projects. Additionally, leaders should have frequent check-ins with their employees, providing workers with the opportunity to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings about their role and the overall company. In this regard, there is room for improvement for most companies; a survey found that, currently, only three in ten U.S. workers believe their opinions count in the workplace.
Next, it’s important for employers to create an open, inclusive environment that empowers employees to foster meaningful workplace bonds. In a workplace where an employee feels welcome and has friendships, they’re more likely to develop a sense of trust, respect, and belonging. Take steps to ensure your workplace practices and company culture are creating a dialogue where employees are encouraged to socialize and feel like they can communicate, bond, and speak openly. Companies where employees can develop meaningful relationships have seen an increase in profits by 12 percent compared to their non-DEIB competitors.
Lastly, employees need to feel positively aware of the diversity of thought on their teams. An inclusive company culture will take time to respectfully educate employees on DEI&B practices to ensure team members are receptive and respectful of each other’s backgrounds. When employees are appreciative of the differences that make their teams unique, they’ll be motivated and better equipped to combine different perspectives into unique, innovative, and extraordinarily creative solutions for complex challenges.