Everyone wants to feel that they belong. It’s something so essential that psychologists rank the need to belong on par with our need for love. When team leaders create a culture where employees feel that they belong to a team, they will not only witness better performance, but also experience increased levels of engagement and well-being. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time you start creating opportunities for stronger relationships, a greater sense of connection, and more visibility.
This is easier said than done, though. The rise of remote and hybrid working has further complicated this feeling of belonging. While there are new and exciting opportunities for collaboration, flexibility, and innovation, it’s harder for organisations to connect with people and connect them through a homogeneous cultural experience.
Our most foundational Social Cognitive Need is to relate.
Believe it or not, majority of human behaviour is driven by the desire to belong. Neuroscientists have even discovered that when we experience social exclusion, the same region in the brain light up just as when we experience physical pain. Leaders can constructively satisfy this need to belong by defining:
Not only will your team have a clearer purpose, they will also feel supported to perform their best.
A well-thought-out onboarding flow and making strong connections go hand in hand because, at the end of the day, it’s far easier to assimilate into a culture that is friendly and familiar. It’s also helpful to remember that it starts with you, the team leader. Model inclusive behaviour, be transparent about your values, and work to connect your new starters to the rest of the team.
How we can support: Create that connection for your new starters with questions that help express their individuality and preferred ways of working. Our New Starter Onboarding pack is a Slack integration to bring your new teammates out of their shell. This is a great way to reduce feelings of alienation and create a sense of belonging from their first day in a new team.
Creating openness between team leaders and employees (AKA workplace transparency) is proven to influence long-term success in an organisation. When leaders are more transparent with their team, it fosters a healthy work environment that allows employees to freely communicate and feel valued. After all, knowledge is power. Transparency and openness spread knowledge that empowers people to do better work together.
How we can support: Generate and share new starter’s profiles. This helps make your new starter feel instantly welcome and creates openness for the rest of the team. It supports a culture of belonging as team members are seen for their unique contributions, feel more connected to their coworkers, and are supported in their daily work.
Ultimately, these user profiles, encourage everyone to appreciate and celebrate the wide array of unique personality traits and working styles within the team.
According to the research done by Neuropower, leaders should create more opportunities to strengthen interpersonal connections. Teams with a high degree of empathy tend to support each other better. They are more likely to go above and beyond to play to each other’s strengths and partake in effective discussions, which results in lesser conflicts and stronger bonds. Having a good sense of empathy is the differentiator between a group of individuals and an interdependent team.
How we can support: Run a weekly Check-in with your team. This is an interactive tool backed by neuroscience. Check-in helps teams dive deeper, beyond the standard “Yeah, I’m good”. It provides an opportunity for your team members to share and listen to what is happening in the team - providing greater insight into how your people are really doing.
Work should not just act as a vessel for productivity, but an opportunity to create meaningful connections with others. This is what so many people miss about going into the office: the social aspect that makes work more human. We are, above all, social beings and creatures of habit after all.
How we can support: Choose from our ever-growing catalogue of team games specifically designed to help you bring your team together and have a blast. From quick ice-breakers at the beginning of your team meetings to fully hosted, virtual team celebrations, these activities serve as a catalyst for stimulating in-person encounters.
If work is something you do and no longer a place you go to, then maybe it’s about time we dispel the notion that culture sits within four concrete walls. Especially in polarising, confusing, and often isolating times, it’s easy to fall into the trap of solely getting work done. As a leader, you should work to tap into each employee’s need to belong, and encourage them to create that same sense of belonging for those around them. You will soon realise that your people are spending way less time ‘playing politics’ and more time doing good work because their most foundational need, to belong, is satisfied.
…and what exactly should you be investing in?
New ways of work require new approaches to help leaders connect with their team.