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Be part of something bigger

 

A sense of belonging is integral to personal fulfilment across all areas of life, whether it’s your group of friends, a gym, your family, your place of work – or all of these.

We spend approximately 90,000 hours of our life at work, we introduce ourselves at parties via our job titles and we build lasting friendships through the people that we work with. Imagine therefore if we didn’t feel like we belonged at our place of work.

The sense of belonging is a wholly subjective experience, unique to each individual but fundamental to our sense of wellbeing. In fact, when someone feels estranged from a group of people the areas that light up in their brains under CT scans are the same as physical pain.

When we feel like we belong at work, we tend to stay in a job longer, perform better and feel more engaged with the work that we do. Effective employers know this and work to create a culture of inclusiveness in their workplaces through engagement surveys, networks and committees for minority groups and putting in place effective DE&I strategies, but to create an environment where everyone feels welcome, effort is required from you as well.  

How can you support DE&I efforts in your organisation?

One of the easiest ways to actively participate in creating a sense of community in the workplace is through actively engaging with DE&I strategies your work has in place. The success of any strategy can only ever be as successful as their uptake by employees, which is where you can play your part. Some ways you can engage include: 
 
  • Ensure your familiar with your work’s purpose and values, and how these ladder into any DE&I programs. Most business’ share this information on their company intranet sites or as part of an induction program. If you can’t find it, ask your manager.   
  • If you notice any actions at work that you feel might not comply with your organisation’s stated values, understand what pathways are available to report. Some businesses have formal, anonymous whistle blower lines, others encourage direct, discreet conversations with your manager – it could be both depending on the behaviour witnessed. Don’t be a participant or bystander to behaviours that contradict an organisations values.  
  • Engage with any networks or committees that aim to shine a light on minority or underprivileged populations within the workforce that you feel passionate about or a connection to. There may be LBGTQI+ or ethnically focused groups of employees that gather to share insights and experiences that can then help executive leaders understand the specific challenges to engineer solutions.
  • Actively participate in any special day celebrations such as International Women’s Day, Pride Month or Harmony Week. If your organisation puts on events that bring speakers in, take the opportunity to hear stories from people who have had different life experiences.
  • Welcome diverse ideas and be a support for other team members. Diversity in the workplace can unlock creativity and different perspectives to help teams deliver better work outcomes.  
  • Be an ally to any underprivileged, underrepresented groups within your organisation. Allyship should be used by individuals to become collaborators, accomplices and co-conspirators to beat injustice and promote equity. Also be a sponsor. While allyship helps shine a light on those who might not usually be heard, a sponsor is someone who will actively encourage and promote a person. In practice this might mean you ask someone of a different gender or race to join an interview which could help create more inclusive hiring practices or highlighting the achievements of a mentee which can strengthen their reputation, sense of belong and potential for a promotion.
Whether it’s participating in events that make everyone feel a part of something, or taking opportunities to increase your own understanding of the challenges faced by minority groups – you can play your part in creating a belonging environment in the work environment.
 

Aligning values and purpose

Finding ways to align your personal values to your work’s values can help you feel more engaged and fulfilled by the work that you do. Start by taking a moment to identify your values and what matters most to you. Create a list of the principles, beliefs and ideals that guide your decision making and define your sense of what is right and wrong. This self-awareness will then help you identify which elements of your organisations values and purpose align to you own.
 
Then taking time to really understand which tasks you undertake throughout a day to support an organisations efforts achieve or communicate these values will help you feel more motivated and fulfilled by the work that you’re doing.
 
Our connections to work are multi-faceted, and we can work towards making sure those connections are motivating, inclusive and bonding by actively participating towards creating a sense of belonging for all.  
 
The Hays Salary Guide FY23/24 offers market insights and workforce trends based on data from more than 14,000 respondents across Australia and New Zealand. Download your copy now.  
 

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