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Fostering belonging in the workplace

Brad Deutser, a bestselling author, is president of Deutser and the Deutser Clarity Institute. (Photograph supplied)

My most recent columns were a series of 5 Lessons from the hit TV series Ted Lasso, which I have found to be meaningful for most organisations. The Lessons: (1) Bake Cookies for Your Boss – Share Your Authentic Self; (2) Ted’s Diamond Dogs – Find Your Tribe, (3) Don’t Stop Believing, (4) Be a Goldfish and (5) The Importance of Fostering Belonging.

In this column, I continue the theme of “Fostering Belonging” by introducing insights shared by Bermuda Clarity Institute cofounder Brad Deutser, in his new book released on September 26: Belonging Rules: Five Crucial Actions that Build Unity and Foster Performance. In this book, Brad explores how increasingly important a sense of belonging is in the workplace.

He notes that “even in a highly digital, globalised world, the essence of business remains the same: a vibrant tapestry of people working together towards a common goal”.

Brad defines “Belonging” as where we hold space for something of shared importance. It is where we come together on values, purpose, and identity; a space of acceptance where agreement is not required but a shared framework is understood; where there is an invitation into the space; an intentional choice to take part in; something vital to a sense of connection, security, and acceptance.

Brad’s work also highlights the following:

Regardless of how fractured business focus can become, people are at the centre of everything that brings business success. And people all share in our fundamental human need to belong to something greater than ourselves and to experience a sense of community, support and affiliation with others.

The intricacies of human connection underpin our collective drive for unity and purpose, which becomes profoundly disrupted when an organisation loses sight of prioritising its employees. To prevent the great disconnect from further eroding our people and forestalling the perils of losing their best and brightest people, leaders must cultivate a deep understanding of, and commitment to, fostering organisational belonging.

The recent groundbreaking study by the team behind Deutser's Institute for Belonging, which incorporated the perspectives of nearly 15,000 employees, crystallises this sentiment.

The results overwhelmingly indicate that an employee's sense of belonging outstrips both their perception of organisational culture and their salary as key determinants of engagement, satisfaction and overall performance. Previously, employers believed the inverse to be true. This is a significant shift in the attitudes of the workforce.

This research used a five-dimensional measure of organisational belonging that encompassed the following:

1, Acknowledgement and appreciation of individual opinions

2, Fostering a strong sense of team unity

3, Opportunities for professional growth within the company

4, Optimal alignment between job responsibilities and individual skill sets

5, Trust in leadership’s commitment to their welfare

Broadening this research to an additional sample of 14,709 employees across diverse industries and roles, there was an undeniable correlation: individuals who experienced a sense of belonging exhibited significantly higher levels of engagement, job satisfaction and effort. The most striking understanding about this work was that belonging predicts satisfaction, engagement and commitment to the organisation over and above employees’ views of the culture or strategy.

To conclude, Brad notes: “As leaders, we’ve seen a decades long placement of culture and strategy at the top. But it is belonging that really drives performance.

Another adjunct study, employing an experimental design with 71 employees, validated that employees would willingly forego higher compensation and be more inclined to stay at an organisation that nurtures their sense of belonging. In sum, organisations and leaders stand to gain substantially by investing in nurturing connections, empowerment and unity among their teams.”

We look forward to sharing more “Belonging Rules” in future MOC columns. For additional information please reach out to gayle@clarity.bm

Brad Deutser is the founder and CEO of Deutser, a Houston-based consulting firm, and author of BELONGING RULES: Five Crucial Actions that Build Unity and Foster Performance. Parts of this article are excerpts from the following: https://houston.innovationmap.com/brad-deutser-belonging-rules-guest-column-2665729616.html

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Published October 23, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated October 23, 2023 at 7:32 am)

Fostering belonging in the workplace

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