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Measure belonging at work: The top driver of employee engagement

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In organizations with a high level of belonging, employee feel that their unique perspectives are valued and inform decisions. So, it makes sense that efforts to strengthen belonging at work starts with seeking input from employees.

Before you launch a workplace culture of belonging survey, it’s important to define what belonging is. I start with the four C’s that make up the core of belonging:

  • Comfort – Employees feel valued, respected, safe and supported.
  • Connection – Employees feel a shared sense of purpose and feel connected to colleagues. 
  • Contribution – Diverse ideas and perspectives are welcomed and inform decisions. 
  • Commitment – Diversity, equity and inclusion is supported through leaders’ words and actions. 

When these four C’s are present at work, employees feel confident being who they are. They don’t spend extra energy working hard to fit in or trying not stand out in the wrong way. As such, they are free to fully pour themselves into their work and bring forward their unique talents and life experiences. They engage more authentically and confidently, contributing more ideas and perspectives. As a result, teams can look at challenges, opportunities and strategies from multiple angles, leading to more thoughtful and innovative decisions. And better decisions lead to better outcomes. 

Organizations with a culture of belonging are:  

  • 35% more likely to achieve industry-leading profitability due to enhanced collaboration, innovation and decision-making.
  • 58% better at recruiting and retaining top talent because the company is known as a great place to work due to the culture.
  • 59% more likely to improve company reputation by making culture a differentiator for success among employees and customers.

The four C’s are also what you’ll want to measure in a culture of belonging survey to baseline how your organization is doing from a workplace culture standpoint and identify strengths and areas in need of improvement: Here are some of my favorite culture of belonging survey questions (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree):

  • I feel I can bring my whole self to work, including all parts of my background, life experiences and what makes me unique. (Comfort)
  • I feel a broad sense of connection with my colleagues across the organization. (Connection)
  • I am comfortable voicing my ideas and opinions, even if they are different from others. (Contribution)
  • I see strong leadership support of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging values. (Commitment)

You’ll want to sort the data by demographic categories (e.g. age, race/ethnicity, tenure, gender, etc.) to better understand the results. Other survey best practices include:

  • Make the survey anonymous. Employees will be more willing to share and share honestly if they trust the survey is anonymous. That means that when you collect demographic data you do not share results if you have less than 5 responses from a demographic category.
  • Make the survey short. No more than 15 questions total.
  • Give a short window to complete it.  People will be more motivated to complete a survey if they only have a short amount of time. Ten days is enough.

Once you collect results, use them to spark further conversation. Employees will want to ask questions about the results and elaborate on their responses. Also engage employees to brainstorm and prioritize action steps. Finally, repeat the process annually to monitor progress.Want more information or help launching your organization’s culture of belonging survey?  Schedule a call.

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Beth Ridley is a former corporate executive turned organizational transformation consultant, speaker and author. Beth combines 25 years of global leadership and management consulting experience with expertise in diversity and inclusion and positive psychology to partner with leaders to transform workplace cultures to better achieve their vision and goals. Beth’s work is featured in national publications and she frequently delivers keynotes and workshops at events around the world. Beth lives with her husband and three children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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