dimensions of belonging

What is Belonging?

An organization’s culture of Belonging determines success in attracting and retaining the best talent. Creating a sense of Belonging is especially important given the increasing cultural diversity in the talent pool.

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But, what is Belonging in the workplace?

Belonging is defined as a sense of strong, stable relationships within an organization. It is what each and every recruit is looking for in an organization as much as the job itself.

I am reminded of a recent conversation with my friend Barbara. I asked about her work and if she liked it. She talked glowingly about her job and the company. This is what she said.

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What? Who does that? What really blew me away is the sincere joy she expressed, her smile and the glow on her face. That would make many of us envious. She was sincerely a happy camper.

The harsh reality is that not everyone feels this way about their workplace.

What’s the Difference Between Belonging and Othering?

Othering refers to anything that ostracizes someone within a group an individual wants to belong to.

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We need strong relationships. Our adult lives are spent at mostly at work. Our workplace relationships can make or break the experience.

Consider my friend Craig.

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He likes his work, but his relationship with his boss takes the joy out of what is otherwise a good place to be.

We all know what it feels like to have a love – hate relationship with the place we work. People tend to leave their jobs to get away from untrustworthy colleagues and especially toxic bosses. It is human to put a lot of effort into establishing relationships in the groups we belong to.

That is why the best job is soured when workplace relationships fail to support our needs.

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What makes Barbara’s workplace experience different from Craig’s? Recent inclusion and belonging research offers some insights..

The Importance of Close Social Ties

Belonging is the result of close social ties within an organization. The strength of our social connections at work determines well-being. This is clearly important for success in the workplace.

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Here’s how Belonging and social connections in organizations work: A sense of Belonging impacts how we think (understanding and control) and feel (self enhancing and trusting) about ourselves at work.
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Our sense of belonging in an organization depends on how easy or difficult it is for us to figure out how to fit in. It is likely much easier for an American recruit to fit into a new workplace compared to someone recently hired from another country. The more we “understand” the organization’s cultural rules and taboos, the more we enjoy a sense of “control” over our circumstances.

Our understanding and sense of control is one dimension of Belonging experience. The other dimension is how we feel about our circumstances in the organization.

Two things affect how we feel about being in an organization: our self esteem and sense of trust. We feel more in control and understand what is expected of us when our sense of self esteem is boosted by others in the organization.

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Inclusion and Belonging Best Practices

Belonging motivates us to help colleagues, form close relationships, help others understand what is expected of them, enhancing personal control, and teamwork in an organization. But. how can you create a Belonging culture to ignite diversity recruitment and retention?

We will explore this is the next article, but here is where we are headed. The following is a list of ingredients for promoting Inclusion and Belonging in your organization.

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Upcoming Academy Programs

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  • May 14 – 17 (Washington, DC). Certified Diversity Professional Program. Register now.
  • May 16 – 17 (Washington, DC) Inclusion & Belonging Conference Register now
  • June 4 – 7 (Washington, DC):  Certified Diversity Trainer Program. tool-specific. Register now.
  • Starts the third Thursday of each month. Online diversity certification programs. Register now.

Upcoming Events

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