By Amy Gannon, Director – Growth Transformation, and Leslee Kress, Vice President – Partner Success

While walking, you pass a wrapper on the floor. What do you do: pick it up and throw it away or keep walking?

That’s how some business leaders have gauged whether community exists in their organization. The thinking here is, the more people who pick up the wrapper, the more likely they feel a part of something bigger.

Successful organizations understand that creating a community where people can be themselves is important – for employees and employers. Higher workplace belonging is linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days, according to Harvard Business Review.

It’s community that bonds employees and allows them to thrive – whether working in the office or remotely. Directly tied to community is ensuring there’s a sense of belonging for all, where everyone feels supported, respected, and connected to colleagues and the larger organization.

Here are four ways you can foster belonging and community in your company:

  1. Leadership commitment
    Talent acquisition and human resources teams can’t create a welcoming and safe work environment on their own. Business leaders play a vital role, as people rely on them to demonstrate inclusive behavior and reinforce the organization's commitment to it.

    Train employees of all levels – from executives and people managers to individual contributors – on your company’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Hold leaders accountable for their part in accomplishing these goals at the organizational level and on their own team. Encourage celebrating the unique abilities that each employee brings. Create a shared calendar with cultural holidays that accurately reflects your workforce for managers to reference.

  2. Networking & growth opportunities
    Connection is at the heart of cultivating belonging and community. And it’s increasingly important for remote workers – with over 70% feeling like they don’t socialize enough.

    Coffee chats, team-building activities, weekly meetings with direct leaders, and social events can help employees build stronger relationships within the company. Develop mentorship or buddy programs that pair people from different backgrounds or levels to work cross-functionally. Create opportunities for employees to lead a project in an area where they excel or offer stretch assignments. Invite people to a meeting that’ll provide more visibility to the broader team or organization.

  3. Employee recognition
    It’s not news that celebrating contributions, achievements, and milestones makes people feel appreciated. Public recognition also opens the door for colleagues to congratulate them.

    Hold award ceremonies that honor employees and gift them personalized trophies. Regularly highlight achievements internally via newsletters, the employee website, and team meetings. If you’re acknowledging a project, make sure to recognize every person involved. Send “thank you” notes – handwritten or digital, such as emails or virtual greeting boards. Send a gift card for lunch of their choice.

  4. Inclusive decision-making
    Open communication and involving employees in decisions go far. When they feel their opinions matter, it enhances belonging and engagement with your organization. It also boosts efficiency: teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions two times faster with half the meetings.​

    Give talent a platform to share ideas, concerns, and successes. Hold town hall meetings to support candid discussions on workplace issues; diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and other relevant topics. Distribute surveys and conduct regular pulse checks to gauge employee satisfaction, engagement, opinions, and concerns about their experience. Prioritize the feedback you receive based on pain points and forge a path forward that truly takes into consideration the responses (both positive and negative) from your employees.

Creating community and belonging in your organization is an ongoing process, requiring continuous effort and commitment from across the business. By prioritizing these tactics, you’ll create an environment where everyone has a place, improving job satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being.