Skip to main content
Topic
Filter By +
Topic +

Cultivating a Sense of Belonging in Your Business

As we begin to hit some form of a stride in our daily lives, many employees may be excited or even anxious to reintegrate into the routine that was rattled over a year ago. I’ve often found that we live in a “VUCA” world: one made up of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

The recent challenges we’ve faced have possibly made this concept more present. That’s not to suggest it wasn’t always there, but instead that we’ve been compelled to acknowledge it collectively. But what can we do to offset the dread that being aware of this brings?

For HR professionals, pinning down our purpose may be the answer. However, we have to build a bridge of value to get us there. If we’re unable to find the value in what we do, we’re unlikely to ever even brush the cusp of self-actualization. This can prove particularly hard if we can’t summon this in the places we engage almost every day.

workplace culture and belonging

Belonging begets success

In order for HR to be effective at what it does, we have to cultivate a sense of  belonging in our workplaces. Recently, belonging has emerged as the most important piece of the employee experience related to engagement and well-being. Yet I’ve written on the inclination to sit on our hands at work, discouraged to push outward for fear of being disruptive. If we feel as though we’re walking on eggshells, then it can be virtually impossible for us to establish any sense of purpose. Similarly, ineffective HR technology can handcuff us to our seats, restrained and unable to connect with the employees we need to empower.

A basic feeling of security is critical for HR to thrive. As I previously discussed with the Paycom team, if you’re insecure in a way that precludes meeting your basic needs, you’re not well-positioned to help others self-actualize, let alone yourself. In the same conversation, I mentioned that when HR professionals invest excessive time wrestling with their tools, that’s time not spent on value-adding activities. Only when our everyday tasks are streamlined and intuitive does the door open for us to engage with employees.

With our minimum requirements met, we can stand up and begin to look around us. This is where we can begin to approach people, not just data. That’s not to say the data isn’t important. In fact, with our basics squared away, we can begin to take more proactive steps toward other areas — like training and compliance — that can serve as the soil for our seeds of belonging. With these planted, we can begin to make the connections that ultimately give us psychological security and confidence.

Growth beyond comfort

Not only can technology help us cover the basics, but I believe it can also leverage our sense of belonging and beyond. Survey tools, for example, can give us the launch pad we need to take incremental risks and ask bigger, more meaningful questions.

For us to grow and flourish outside our comfort zone, to truly become the heart and soul of our organizations’ outreach efforts, we need to have the devices in place that can help us accomplish our basic duties. From there, we can give ourselves the permission to take incremental, yet nevertheless important action.

Belonging is more than a buzzword an organization might brandish when it’s convenient. I find it’s defined by sincere efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion. When organizations commit to belonging through courage and transparency, they begin to understand their people in a way that promotes growth, despite the adversity we face today.

The VUCA nature of our world isn’t going to change, but the way we traverse it can. When we start to cultivate belonging, I believe we can see the uncertainty of our lives as less of a threat and ultimately more of a challenge to overcome.

 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.

About the author
Author picture, Amy C. Edmondson
Amy C. Edmondson
Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, a chair established to support the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful enterprises that contribute to the betterment of society. Best known for her groundbreaking work on psychological safety in the workplace, Edmondson is the author of seven books, along with more than 75 articles and case studies. She has been ranked by the biannual Thinkers50 global list of top management thinkers since 2011 (most recently #3) and selected in 2019 as the #1 most influential thinker in Human Resources by HR Magazine. Her most recent book, The Fearless Organization (Wiley 2019) offers practical guidance for leaders of teams and organizations who are serious about success in the modern economy.