Posted By Vicky Walker

Posted on5th February 2024

Finding a sense of belonging in the workplace is vital to maintain happy, engaged employees. If organisations exercise values-based management then employees can connect over a shared goal and feel a sense of purpose.

Our personal and work lives now require a different kind of support to help us feel that we truly belong. Feeling a sense of belonging means different things to different people, so how can HR leaders and people managers foster connection at work?

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Vicky Walker, Group People Director at Westfield Health, discusses the ways that businesses can build connection in 2024.

Feeling a sense of purpose in the workplace

Building a sense of belonging within the workforce has completely changed over the past few years. People are now looking for an organisation that they can relate to. A company’s goals and corporate social responsibility (CSR) can help boost employee retention, morale and productivity. This attracts employees that hold the same beliefs and creates an environment where they feel like they can be part of wider purpose. They can also connect with their colleagues through this shared goal.

If organisations can create a sense of belonging, then the impacts on employee wellbeing are huge. People who feel like they can bring their whole self to work feel energised, bring new ideas and are able to bring critical thinking to their role instead of seeing work as means to an end.

Attracting new talent

The “culture first” approach is becoming more and more popular when recruiting new employees. For attracting talent, there’s a bigger emphasis on having a relatability to the values that organisation holds. 40% of active job hunters cite company culture as the most important factor in finding a new position.

At Westfield Health, we’re finding that questions asked within interviews now commonly include subjects such as business sustainability, CSR strategies and the overarching values of the business. The recruitment process is shifting in favour of employee preferences, so there’s a risk of losing new talent for businesses if the company values don’t align with the candidate’s own.

How can HR demonstrate purpose?

When you’re considering how you can help employees feel a sense of belonging, HR is one function that can really help. Here are my top three tips for HR teams to help demonstrate the purpose of your organisation:

  1. Put company culture at the forefront of the recruitment process. Think about your company message on your website, social media and job adverts and how this appeals to people with shared values.
  2. Be clear about your onboarding process. Plan how to introduce new starters to the values and purpose, including how they’re welcomed to the company in advance so they understand the company culture and can how the company aligns with their own values.
  3. Invest in management training and ensure that the team feel connected to their line manager. Employees should see their line manager as the first point of support.

It’s important to think about how to make people feel included from day one. Organisations are made up of lots of different cultures – it’s okay to recognise that one size does not fit all. As long as you’ve got a golden thread that brings them everyone together to create community in the workplace then this is an environment that can support and encourage everyone’s individual identity.

Setting clear policies

Deloitte found that companies that prioritise diversity and inclusivity have lower turnover rates, improved employee satisfaction, and higher engagement levels. Workplace policies should be designed for equal treatment of all employees.

Policies can support workplace values, but HR policies should be used as a baseline. Businesses should consider how authentically you can get people to come together and how they can link to your values and their sense of purpose in the organisation.

To find out more about connection in the workplace, including the changing role of managers, building relationships and tackling loneliness in the workplace, head over to our Wellbeing Trends report.

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