Organisations can and should measure their employees’ sense of belonging

Symmetra has long advocated objectively rating and benchmarking the salient features of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

One of the most important indicators of the level of inclusivity in a workplace is whether employees have a positive sense of belonging. Belonging advances employee engagement, motivation, identification with the goals of the business and collaboration.

It is pleasing indeed to see that EY has recently underscored the importance of measuring the sense of belonging in workplaces by devising its ’Belonging Barometer’ (Nov.2018).

The Belonging Barometer reflects the findings of a survey of more than 1000 employed adult Americans as to how they define “belonging”; what makes them feel like they belong; and what makes them feel like they do not belong.

  • Key findings of the survey recorded in the Barometer are:
  • More than 40 per cent of respondents across generations and genders feel physically alone or ignored, creating a sense of emotional isolation;
  • 56 per cent of employees feel that they belong most when they consider that they are trusted and respected;
  • 44 per cent of women and 33 per cent of men say that when colleagues check in with them about how they are doing, they feel the greatest sense of belonging;
  • Whereas belonging is accepted by all as a highly positive feature in a workplace, more than half perceive its opposite – exclusion – as a form of bullying

Data of this sort provide important insights as to what triggers feelings of belonging and how this can be sustained. The granular data generated also empowers leaders to address those obstacles that stand directly in the way of developing a strong sense of inclusion and belonging in a team or the organisation as a whole.

In a similar endeavour to elicit hard data, Symmetra has developed a range of assessment tools which separately measure the inclusivity of leaders, of teams and of the organisation as a whole – each of these tools has been tested for statistical reliability and validity and have been used now with thousands of leaders across the globe.

The increasing emphasis by EY and others on the desirability of measuring attitudes, perceptions and feelings of employees about belonging and inclusion is a noteworthy development. These factors ultimately are key predictors of commitment, performance and retention. Feelings of inclusion, belonging and motivation may be intangible, but they are not amorphous and are capable of identification by the persons directly affected. Many executive leaders confirm that these metrics are of vital significance as they provide rich and objective insights into the attitudes, satisfaction and sense of well-being of employees rather than leaving leaders to make assumptions or draw conclusions from evidence which is often hopelessly incomplete or biased. Assessments of inclusion , whether organisation wide, team-based or of individual leaders are a giant leap forward for advancing the inclusion agenda.

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