Where is this word belonging coming from? In early days, we lived in smaller settings. Each person served a specific purpose. This sense of purpose in community created a feeling of belonging. When we are working remotely, in a virtual workspace, there tends to be a sense of separation. In addition, it is more difficult to determine how to contribute to our work community as we are not physically in it. This can leave us with a feeling of isolation or not fully understanding how what we contribute plays into the broader context of our team, organization, or external stakeholders. It is not as visible.

“The degree of meaning and purpose you derive from work may be the biggest difference between a job and a career, and psychological research has consistently shown that when employees feel that they belong to a team or organization — in the sense that it aligns with their values, and enables them to express important aspects of their identity — they will not only tend to perform better, but also experience higher levels of engagement and well-being. In contrast, a lack of belonging will increase the risk of alienation, burnout, and underperformance.” – Harvard Business Review

How then do we create belonging in this hybrid workspace? In my work with leaders, here are some ways that I have seen and that they have come up with through coaching of ways to create a sense of belonging for themselves and others:

  1. Start with yourself. 
    • What gives you a sense of belonging?
    • How do or can you create this sense of belonging for yourself?
  2. Then, look to your teams – teams that report to you, your peer team, and your senior leadership team or board:
    • What gives them a sense of belonging? How can you know the answer to this question? Ask them.
    • Collaboratively explore ideas that support generation of belonging in each team.
    • Prioritize the viable ideas and create ways to act on them.
    • Some ideas to build upon:
      1. Have periodic get-to-know-you webinars with icebreaker activities. Many people have never met each other in person or had the opportunity to learn more about each other outside of work roles.
      2. Encourage people to identify, understand and live their values and purpose through work and understand how they align with and contribute to the organizational culture.
      3. Ensure opportunities and recognition is equitable amongst in-person and remote team members and stakeholders. See our blog post on this topic. [Add link to earlier March 2022 blog here]
      4. Send something to each team member and stakeholder that shows that you care about them.
      5. Ensure your processes, procedures and related systems do not inadvertently create a negative impact on belonging.
      6. What else can you think of?

There are so many ways of creating a sense of belonging. Belonging can come in different ways for each individual. The best way of knowing is to ask, to support each person to identify this for themselves and then, collectively, and then generate collaborate, forward-moving solutions.

If you would like to learn how coaching can support you to discover customized ways of creating a sense of belonging for yourself and others, book an exploration call with me. [Book Now]

Yours in creating a sense of belonging,

Jamie

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