The Need for Connection in the Workplace

In my previous article on Body Image and mental well-being, I mentioned the need for connection and acceptance in a group or community. I would now like to explain why this same basic need should also be met in the workplace.

Researches and studies constantly show that humans need one another, we need to feel validated and supported. Unfortunately, this natural and well-known need seems to be totally omitted when we are at work. It feels like all of a sudden, we should put this innate need on one side instead of encouraging relationship building at the office. So why ‘belonging’ is so crucial in the workplace?

1. Environment & Identity

We spend the majority of our day at work, which means we need to feel connected to our colleagues and to the brand we work for. If this is not met properly, it poses a significant threat to our mental well-being and to the performance of the company.

The need for belonging can only be met if we build trust first, for there can be no relationship without this basic component. So how to build trust? Brand image and management style are the answers. A leader has to forge trust and shows that it is highly encouraged in the corporate culture which reflects the identity of the brand.

By sharing information, the leader fosters autonomy and decision-making. Therefore, he is able to delegate, feeling he can rely on his staff to have the job done. Besides, employees know that communication is a key component of the organization. They can trust the company and colleagues to share any valuable pieces of information. The environment feels healthy and trustworthy which, in turn, boosts employee engagement.

Leaders must show consistency. This means each and every word must match each and every move. It is well-known that employees tend to mimic their leader’s behaviours, especially if they trust him and look up to him. The workplace feels like a place where belonging is a key element which leads to greater performance in a holding environment that is considered safe.

Offering trainings and giving constructive advice and feedback, as I wrote in a previous article, also builds competence and confidence. The company shows that the employees’ viewpoint matters and is willing to create a sense of collective identity.

2. Individuals within a Team

This is a tougher sub-topic. I have kept mentioning teams and leaders as two groups. I am now focusing on each member of a team. In today’s world, we must consider other determining factors such as diversity, each member’s specific traits, culture, etc. And that makes the job more challenging even though way more interesting in my opinion.

Indeed, it would not make sense to hire people who have a work style or a personality that would not match with those of the team. They do not have to be similar but they do have to be complementary. An employer is able to foster a sense of belonging only if the team as a whole feels safe and knows that each member can trust another. Personality clashes would only damage the corporate culture and performance.

Besides, if we refer to large organizations, it is nearly impossible to get this sense of belonging and trust within a very large group as a whole. This means that employees will necessarily feel safe and forge better relationships within subgroups. They will thus relate and feel connected to smaller groups within the large company, with colleagues they do see and talk to on an everyday basis.

To help these subgroups feel they belong to the organization as a whole, employers must send regular reminders that show they value their work, that their role is crucial to the business growth. An easy way to do this is by sending newsletters, scheduling monthly meetings, organizing specific events, etc.

Therefore, employee retention is strongly linked to the employee’s sense of belonging, his well-being, the environment, and overall management style. Developing healthy and stimulating emotional connections at work definitely boosts corporate performance and brand identity.

Should you have any further questions or thoughts, please do not hesitate to contact me!

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