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Belonging: The Key to a Truly Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Workplace

Diversity in the workplace means onboarding people of different cultural backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, and even education levels. Having a diverse workforce is vital, not just for increased perspectives and social awareness, but for morale, collaboration, and productivity.

Though organizations across the country are increasingly aware of their diverse hiring efforts, employees often feel like their company can be doing more to foster a genuinely inclusive, equitable environment. Embracing a culture of belonging can be the key to successful diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and lead to a safe place for all employees to thrive.

How is DEI related to belonging?

It goes without saying that all organizations should strive to have a diverse, inclusive workforce. When individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives are welcome and have equitable opportunities to succeed in an organization, the work environment generally feels more safe, collaborative, and harmonious.

So why are organizations still struggling to attract and retain diverse candidates or maintain a connected workforce? In many cases, DEI initiatives are falling short because they’re being implemented without a foundation of workplace belonging.

Belonging is defined as the feeling of being accepted for who you are, recognized for your unique contributions, and connected to people and purpose. Belonging is an organization-wide imperative; it is important for people of all races, ages, sexual orientations, genders, or titles to feel like they can be their true, authentic selves at work and to be respected, included, and engaged regardless.

Without a true sense of belonging, diversity programs will seem performative, one-dimensional, or even divisive. People coming together to create an environment that encourages and acknowledges the value and uniqueness of all employees is an important step in creating a sense of belonging for the individuals within a company – and to create a strong platform for DEI initiatives to succeed in the long-term.

Why is workplace belonging so important?

When we feel we belong, we are more likely to be motivated, active, and engaged in our environment. Further, when people feel like they’re part of a genuinely supportive community, they are more willing to take creative risks, to collaborate on new ideas, and to deliver high-quality work that they are proud of.

When you boil it down, all people want to feel accepted, recognized, and connected to others. Authenticity and consistency are key. An organization’s functioning and employee well-being are greatly influenced by workplace belonging, and everyone can pitch in to create a culture of belonging.

Foster belonging in Your organization 

Without a true sense of belonging, DEI initiatives can fall flat. Read on to learn how you can help foster a culture of belonging at your organization.

Identify purpose and nurture it

Without purpose, work is work; with purpose, work becomes joyous. People find meaning in their work when they realize what they do matters to others and is aligned with organizational goals. A meaningful job motivates employees to be engaged and committed.

Take time to reflect on your motivations and passions. What excites you about your role? Are there any opportunities for increased learning or development that you’ve been eyeing? If there are any exciting or interesting projects that align with your skills (or skills you’d like to build), discuss them with your manager during your next one-on-one meeting.

Celebrate big and small wins

Hard work is just that – hard – so a job well done should be recognized! Publicly celebrate the accomplishments of teammates to create a space where peers can recognize other well-performing peers for their wins. Even though it might feel a little strange, share some of your most recent accomplishments with a trusted colleague or friend.

Peer-to-peer recognition creates a strong sense of belonging because celebration begets connection. If there are colleagues who you normally don’t shout out or aren’t as forthcoming about their wins, take the time to chat with them to discuss their recent accomplishments and deepen your relationship.

Promote cohesion within teams 

A healthy balance of work and play creates cohesion among colleagues. Get to know your colleagues on a deeper, more personal level. What do they like to do outside of work? Who are they at home? What makes them tick? Consider planning a fun activity for your team, like a happy hour, lunch, or game. A sense of connection can be the difference between a mediocre work experience and a great one for you and your team members.

Creating a psychologically safe environment in which people from all walks of life can genuinely thrive is the key to a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. Senior leaders, managers, and employees alike can get to know their colleagues, recognize them for their hard work and contributions, and work to celebrate individuality in all forms.

Fostering belonging in the workplace requires that employees at all levels have the tools they need to be successful. That’s where Vityl comes in. Check out your My Belonging page for your most recent nudges to begin fostering acceptance, recognition, and connection in your organization today.

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