From the Great Attrition to the Great Attraction: 6 Ways to Cultivate Belonging in the Workplace
Employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers, and according to recent research from McKinsey & Company, most employers don’t understand why. Employers say attrition is due to inadequate pay, poor health, or lack of family-life balance. But the top reasons employees cite for quitting their jobs are feeling undervalued and lacking a sense of belonging in the workplace (with 51% saying they quit because they didn’t feel they belonged at work).
McKinsey analysts offer a critical insight about these findings: after a year and a half of relative isolation, employees are craving social and interpersonal connections with coworkers and a sense of shared identity; so long as employers fail to address this by investing “in the human aspect of work,” the ‘Great Attrition’ will persist.
Belonging in the workplace is vitally important not only to employee retention but also to job performance. According to a study of workplace belonging, conducted by BetterUp, high belonging was linked not only to a 50% decrease in turnover but also to a 56% increase in job performance and a 75% decrease in sick days. The study also found that feeling excluded caused workers to give less effort to the team.
It seems that cultivating belonging in the workplace can yield high ROI results, especially in our post-pandemic reality. It’s no surprise that not being accepted and included at work makes people less motivated to perform and more likely to quit. We’re all human, and belonging is one of our basic needs (3rd level on Maslow’s pyramid of needs). Employers who recognize this and invest in making their employees feel psychologically safe to be who they are in the workplace will benefit greatly.
Eloops customers are ahead of the game – they are already focused on building a culture of acceptance and comradery and have been successfully using Eloops’s employee engagement platform to that end. Read on to discover how.
How to build a sense of community across the modern workforce
Like many companies today, our customers have a distributed/remote workforce. They want to leave no one feeling like an outsider, and they can’t rely on physical proximity to provide opportunities for bond-building.
They come to us looking for technology that will allow them to have meaningful and personalized interactions with their employees as an organization, give their employees opportunities to build social and interpersonal connections remotely, and unite their diverse workforce. What they get is an employee engagement platform that uses automation to personalize and schedule communications with employees, includes a feed where employees can post, share, and comment, has a survey tool with which employee feedback can be collected and analyzed, a peer-to-peer recognition feature, and gamification tools, all of which they can leverage to meet their goals.
The following six approaches to building a sense of belonging have proven to work for our customers. Any organization can use them, but one with an employee engagement platform will have a much easier time doing so.
Take the pulse of your organization
Tip 1: Use surveys often to understand your employees and be open to change your course
Executives aren’t listening to their people nearly enough. That’s one of the main lessons of McKinsey’s ‘Great Attrition’ research. Not being in tune with your employees’ needs and concerns can be costly – you may end up misdiagnosing your people problems, misallocating your resources, and missing opportunities for improvement. Moreover, demonstrating you care about your employees’ opinions by asking them about things that matter often will make them feel included.
Get a clear picture of your organization’s ‘state of belonging’ with smart surveys that allow you to analyze responses across different demographic groups. Ask them to what extent they feel they belong on a scale of 1 to 10. Invite them to elaborate in a follow-up survey. Analyze the results, implement changes, and retake the initial survey to see whether the changes you’ve made have had the desired impact. If you don’t see a positive trend, ask your employees for further input and feedback, and rethink your course.
Our customers give their employees a voice by creating a direct and open line of communication with regular polls and surveys. They also share their findings back to their workforce and show them how they’ve acted in response. This sort of sharing has proven to build trust and reinforce participation in their future surveying activity.
Read this blog to learn how you can use an employee engagement platform to implement smart and frequent surveys.
You had me at onboarding
Tip 2: Design an onboarding process that makes new employees feel welcome, included, and connected
Professional onboarding is crucial, but just as important is making new employees feel like their individuality and unique backgrounds are not only accepted but valued.
Here are some ideas for how to do this:
- Send a celebratory ‘welcome our new team member’ announcement to the team or post it on the company feed.
- Have new employees fill out a questionnaire, allowing them to share fun and interesting facts about themselves. Possible questions include favorite pizza topping, hobbies, favorite movie, last book they read, their view on the key to a successful team, career aspirations at the age of 12. Share this information with the rest of the team in a “new employee spotlight” communication.
- Have new employees get to know their team. Send them their teammates’ answers to the same questionnaire. Quiz them on that information privately and risk-free and award them coins for every correct answer.
storytelling to connect the new employee to the organization and its people:
- Pick a manager or executive with whom the new employee can identify and share that individual’s journey at the company. It need not be a ‘how I climbed the company ladder’ story. It can be about finding a new ‘professional calling’ while working on cross-departmental projects and switching to a new department as a result.
- Tell new employees the company story, focusing on its origin and how its mission has evolved.
Such stories have the power to humanize the organization, make new employees see a future for themselves in the company, and motivate them to shape its future.
- Make sure you use the information collected at onboarding as you continue your personalized communication with employees.
Fun at work works!
Tip 3: Let your employees build connections through having fun together.
It’s been shown that game elements at work make 87% of employees feel more socially connected. Our customers use Eloops’s gamification tools to turn both work-related and non-work-related activities into competitions. Individual competitions allow employees to let their guards down and feel accepted by their peers. Team competitions have the added element of having the group unite to achieve a common goal. Employees discover different sides of their colleagues’ personalities and show off strengths and talents unrelated to their job functions. Here are some fun competition ideas:
- Short 5-question trivia quizzes on a fun theme using a timer and a leaderboard. Employees race each other to the top of the leaderboard by completing the quizzes in the fastest time.
- Photo challenges that invite your employees to compete individually to share pictures of the best costumes, cutest pets, or most appetizing lunch and attract the most’ likes’ from their colleagues.
- Photo challenges that invite employees to compete as a team. The competition can be entirely non-work related; for example, a movement challenge where the team that can show the most daily steps on their wearables or smartphones wins. Or it can involve a company project such as workspace reorganization, where the team whose reorganized space photo gets the most likes wins.
Eloops customers can create these quizzes and challenges on their own, or they can choose from Eloops’s marketplace of pre-made and easy-to-customize content. With numerous new items each month, they never have to worry about running out of ideas.
Company values are invaluable
Tip 4: Inspire and unite your employees through your company values and mission
Company values provide a foundation for a common identity. So can a company mission that makes employees understand their work is meaningful. In formulating your mission, make sure it’s about more than just making a profit – that it resonates with what your employees care about.
Get your employees involved in the process of defining your values by asking for their feedback and refining your values accordingly. Reinforce your values whenever you can and help your employees understand how to embody your values and contribute to your mission.
Here are some ways our customers choose to reinforce their company values
- Celebrate employee or team achievements – personal or professional – that embody one of your values. For instance, if giving back to the community is one of your company values and the IT team volunteers in a Thanksgiving food drive, announce their activity with a #GoodToGiveBack hashtag.
- Invite your employees to post pictures of themselves acting in ways that embody one of your values and to tag the relevant value.
- Allow employees to use a peer-to-peer recognition mechanism to recognize one another privately for “living” your company values.
Listen to this webinar recording to hear more about how our customers use values to build a sense of community.
Recognition, recognition, recognition
Tip 5: Foster a culture of recognition and make employees feel ‘seen’ and valued
While we all like to be recognized, we’re not all the same when it comes to how we want to receive recognition. Some of us like getting public attention, while others prefer receiving kudos in private. Some of us like to be recognized by peers, while others prefer the recognition of our managers. Some of us like to be recognized individually while others as part of a team. Through Eloops our customers have access to multiple recognition avenues:
- Regular peer-to-peer recognition activity, giving all employees coins weekly to transfer to their colleagues on a ‘use them or lose them’ basis.
- ‘Top-to-bottom’ manager recognition activity operated through the same coins mechanism but directed at either individuals or teams.
- Directed recognition challenges set for your entire workforce to promote coins transferring activity with one focus for a set period, such as #YouMadeMeSmile #MySuperhero #MyWorkFamily.
Work friendship rewards
Tip 6: Reward employees who develop work friendships, spread good vibes, and have an inclusive attitude
In a study on the impact of work friendships, Officevibe found that 70% of employees say having friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life. Having a close friend at work gives us someone with whom to share our personal and professional achievements and disappointments, and without it, work can seem lonely and alienating. How might you turn your workplace into one where friendships are encouraged and rewarded?
- We’ve noticed that employees tend to use peer-to-peer recognition to recognize good friends, while managers use it to recognize hard work. Encourage managers to recognize employees for developing friendships. How will managers identify those individuals? An employee engagement platform with a peer-to-peer recognition mechanism such as Eloops gives you access to data about which employees are recognized most frequently for being #AGoodFriend.
- Bring people from different teams together to solve problems. Use icebreakers and team-building activities, either in person or remotely, to help them connect.
How Eloops can help you achieve your company goals
If creating a happier, more accepting workplace is a focus for you, we’d like to chat about how we might help. Our mission is to help organizations boost employee engagement and cultivate a culture of belonging and community. We design the tools and create the content that modern companies need to achieve their engagement goals. We are ready to discuss how Eloops can help you and your organization turn the great attrition into the great attraction.