Monday, 16 July 2012

The idea of " Belonging"

In one of my previous organizations, it was a common water-cooler discussion about how the environment of the office has changed.  People lamented  It is not the same what used to be earlier”.  “I remember the time when we used to have fun at work. Now every morning I groan that I have to go to office”  “Nowadays people do not even smile at each other. Even the office fun activities which we have seems to be crafted and directed by the senior management and we are forced to participate”
What went wrong ? What changed ? Now when I contemplate about it, I think I know the answer. The employees did not “belong” to the organization anymore. They were just placeholders. Just as protein is needed in the diet for the health of the body, the feeling of “belonging” is a basic need for the mind and soul.  At home.  At work.

 According to me , here are a couple of things which the organization’s leadership should do increase the belongingness of their associates
  • The “Fun” activities should be driven by the employees – I remember the times when we formed a small drama society in our office. We used to cut back on our lunch hour and practice and rehearse and conduct shows. It was a huge success and I still receive notes from people (most of them have left the organization) about the fun we had. The people in this group are still a strong virtual community.

  • Ignite creativity by encouraging failure : Innovations happen in an atmosphere where people can work fearlessly. Yes, people will fail. And these failures will strengthen the culture of creativity. And even when he fails , the attempt to create is lauded , the fears will vanish and someday something great will be created. It is guaranteed. And the bond with the employee becomes like steel.

  •  Think Employees : The buzzword today is “employees first” . It is your employees who create the organization. They are the faces to the customers.  Cultivate them. Make them your partners. Have you tried being transparent with them ? Are you treating them fairly ? have you told them your problem ? I have seen magic happen when I have told about a grave situation about the project and the team have forgotten their own and have worked night and day to recover the situation. Smilingly. Without anything extra. With alacrity. Make them your ally. And see the change !

  • Initial touch points matter :  When a person comes for an interview he faces a couple of moments of truths.  Is the appointment happening on time? Is the interviewer smiling and asking whether he wants tea or coffee? In case he is waiting, what does he read ? In my own experience, a magazine or a      newsletter , created by the employees themselves acts as a very good method to start the bonding even at that stage. And even if he is not recruited, he goes back as an ambassador of the organization

  • Build Trust And stick with it : It is not easy. Just like Rome, trust cannot be built in a day. The leader has to be persistent. He will have to walk the talk. Just like in one of my earlier blogs, trust will definitely ECHO.  Yes, there will be non-believers. There will be cynical people. But as long as the organizational leadership repeatedly raise the issue of trust and be strong advocates of it, perseverance will win.  

All of us crave to “belong”.  If this feeling is enhanced, the employees will go the extra mile with a heightened level of ownership.  Win their commitment. And see your business boom !


  1. Very true, all employees crave to "belong". An organization, through its system of delegation should accept and acknowledge it.

  2. Belongingness will come when the objectives of the employer and the employee will converge. To make this happen the employer has to put some effort to understand employee's need hierarchy. A good way of achieving this is through assigning a Mentor who will have some vested interest in acting as the well-wisher of the employee and will help the employee in his career path.

  3. Could not agree more ..

  4. Harvard Business Review colleagues, Thanks for your comments and insight :

  5. Harvard Business Review colleagues, Thanks for your comments and insight. I have put your comments in the blog for the benefit of others .

    Conwyn Flavell : I think there is a difference between belonging and cynical manipulation.

    Dr. Brian Monger : Makes it harder when they are fired.

    Paremvir Malik : I believe culture engagement is what helps you achieve EE.

    Selena Smith : Employees of any organization are highly influential to your customer base, subsequently impacting their buying decisions. If the employees are disengaged so are your customers; they will find loyalty elsewhere at a tremendous cost to the business.

    Jim Rowbotham : With less loyalty from employer to employees/contractors, there may be reduced loyalty to an organization besides completing an assignment at a top level…for personal reasons.

    Allison Purviance : Work is FUN when all involved participate in the NET GAIN. Yes, I think the ideal workplace enables employee engagement, which means keeping employees in the loop and allowing them to have a hand in process improvement and there is always room for improvement, by the way.

    Myles Suer :@WorkersCount collects data here daily. On ther 13th, they learned that only 50% of users would wear their company logo clothing. And earlier still theyrned that only 67% of workers frequently consider their place of work fun. There is room for growth.

    Jessica A. Robinson : Absolutely. Without EE it will be difficult to retain outstanding employees. If we dont retain great employees, companies create a vicious cycle of having a mediocre organizational culture combined with consistently dissatisfied customers. If the company culture does not allow for their teams to reach their full potential, individually and collectively, it is impossible for the company to reach its full potential.

    Myles Suer : Jessica-I have seen some amazing studies recently in the EE and communications on the costs of poor engagement. I can't believe that large organizations that have de-invested in EE are completely stupid unless they figure a mediocre organization will help accelerate their efforts to reduce employee costs. What is your take?

  6. Your style is very unique compared to other people I've read stuff from.

    Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this web site.

    Here is my web page elder scrolls online beta sign up