What Drives Belonging in the Workplace?

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The culture of belonging in the workplace serves as a welcome sign to all employees. The sense of belonging in a workplace is a by-product of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. At the same time, belonging presents a feeling of appreciation – that one employee’s uniqueness makes them as effective as the others.  

Ideally, to foster belongingness, the presence of respect and being open to individual uniqueness should be at the center of workplace culture. An employee’s race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and social class must not build walls and hinder establishing connections among team members.  

But of course, these are easier said than done. To nurture a culture of belonging, it pays to understand first why it’s important and the factors affecting it. This article will help explain these key points and the initial measures you can take for your employees to feel that they are not alone. 


Why Is Belonging Important in the Workplace? 

Imagine holding company celebrations and finding some of your employees sitting alone in some dark corner. How about daily meetings with workers who cannot reveal their innovative ideas because of the fear of judgment? Would parties still feel jovial? Would meetings be as productive?   

Belonging is important in the workplace because it’s a core human need, and organizations can only function as great as how motivated their employees are. If you’ve encountered Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, you’ll recall that love and belonging sit in the middle of the pyramid. It’s a bridging step between our physiological needs and safety and our need for esteem and self-actualization.   

This implies that employees should first fill the need for love and belonging before they can experience self-esteem and self-actualization, two factors that boost human morale.  

As proof, an article from McKinsey shows that employees consider the sense of belonging as one of the three most important factors that either make or break the workplace. To further prove its effect on organizational success, an article from Morgan Stanley stated that bondholders see inclusive companies as “less risky” investments compared to non-inclusive ones. 


What Are The Factors That Affect Belonging? 

Beneath a company’s success is a huge chunk of stories and struggles that employees have to go through. These stories are influenced by various factors that affect the sense of belonging in the workplace. Let’s take a closer look at some of them below. 


Age Differences

Also known as ageism, this is a systematic form of workplace oppression revolving around stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination based on a person’s age.   

As the Wellness Council of America puts it, age bias can be observed in the hiring and promotion process. Their study also showed that employer-initiated involuntary job separation occurred in 56 percent of employees aged 51 to 56.  

Even with age differences among your employees, you can ensure that the sense of belonging is still maintained in your workplace by being the first to remind everyone that age isn’t equivalent to productivity. As long as employees can complete the given tasks, they should still be presented with opportunities for fair and inclusive treatment in the workplace.   

Ensuring that all employees are accepted, despite their age, will motivate them to realize their potential and skills without the fear of prejudice. 


Gender/Sexual Orientation

Even in modern times, discrimination and harassment, especially toward the female, transgender, and non-binary individuals, are still evident.   

Employee acceptance, let alone promotion, can sometimes even be withheld from these people. This can affect their job performance, emphasizing the lack of assurance that they are safe and treated equally.   

A workplace that promotes a sense of belonging should start with challenging gender stereotypes where all genders are expected to act in a certain way. As their employer, your initiative can stop this mindset from continuing as it hinders employees from expressing themselves.   

All individuals–regardless of their gender or sexual orientation–should be allowed to share their ideas with the group. This can help them feel included and feel a sense of belonging at work.  


Racial Profile

Racial discrimination or racism is the unfair treatment directed against a person of a particular minor racial or ethnic group, typically one that belongs to those in the minority. In a workplace, racism can affect one’s sense of belonging as it negatively impacts an employee’s well-being and productivity.  

A workplace that tolerates racial behavior reflects an environment that lacks the initiative to psychologically support its employees. Additionally, it has legal implications. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that an average of $112.7 million has been collected from various employers for violations related to racial discrimination each year.   

On the other hand, creating a workplace that promotes equality is necessary to promote the welfare of everyone in the workforce. Racial and ethnic diversity in a workplace contributes to employees’ sense of belonging by combating prejudice. With a diverse labor force, accessibility to new and diverse customer markets can also appear, creating a wider avenue for the organization to grow globally. 


Religion/Cultural Differences

From local or remote setups, there are instances when employees are tasked to work with individuals of different religions. Moreover, there are many circumstances when an individual’s religious observances, beliefs, and viewpoints enter the workplace.   

Observing such traditions and norms in the workplace and embracing inclusive religious or cultural practices can also boost employees’ sense of belonging. These practices may include programs or employee training which focuses on discussing religious/cultural differences along with other dimensions of similar aspects.   

Also, following rules set by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can boost the ethical values of employees and the morale of everyone around them, thus strengthening the relationship among team members. 


Educational Background

An employee’s educational background is crucial as it’s a critical aspect of their contributions to organizational success. But if misused, the educational background can serve as a boundary among employees. In a workplace, various workers have different academic achievements, which can be the root of employee comparison.   

As their employer, remember that diversity is key to advancement. A workplace that promotes educational diversity maintains a flexible workforce, giving those who are less informed and less experienced a platform for fresh perspectives and ideas. 



No employee should be left behind. Be it a hybrid, remote, or physical setup, a workplace that openly embraces all its employees is where people feel they belong and are at home. So if you’re ready to welcome new employees to your family and let them discover your amazing culture, On-Demand Group can help you find the right people.  

With over 25 years of experience in the field, On-Demand Group is a second-generation and proudly woman-owned business built on strong values and ethics. We will ensure that you learn ways to promote diversity in your workplace and get the best people in your team to nurture your culture. 

Welcome everyone with equal opportunities, and let future employees reach their full potential. Find candidates that will be proud to be part of your organization. Contact us today! 

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