How to Build Community Among Your Workers

Simple “check-ins” may be key.
By: | November 19, 2018 • 2 min read
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Second only to home, Americans find the greatest sense of belonging at work, according to a new study that sheds light on the value of employers building community among workers.

EY’s Belonging Barometer surveyed 1,000 employed adults, finding that 34 percent of respondents said they feel belonging at work, ahead of both their neighborhood and place of worship. Participants define “belonging” in different ways: More than half—who were most likely to be baby boomers—view the concept as being trusted and respected, while others cite aspects such as freedom to voice their opinions and their employer valuing their unique contributions.

In this tight labor market, organizations are laser-focused on retention, and EY’s study highlights the role community-building could play in advancing employee satisfaction. One simple way to support that aim, the study suggests, is by informal “check-ins.” Thirty-nine percent of respondents say they derive the greatest sense of belonging at work when colleagues simply ask how they’re doing, both personally and professionally.

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Check-ins were more popular for building belonging at work than activities such as public recognition, inclusion in out-of-office events and face time with senior leaders. This approach was the method of choice across all age groups, though it was most popular with baby boomers, and women were slightly more inclined to cite the value of check-ins than men.

“It’s evident that, across all generations, there is a craving for one-on-one connections amongst colleagues and that checking in has the potential to prevent workers from checking out,” says Karyn Twaronite, EY’s global diversity and inclusiveness officer.

Checking in can help guard against social exclusion, Twaronite says. The survey found that exclusion at work can cause physical and emotional isolation; about 40 percent of respondents report feeling alone, and about a third of women cite feelings of sadness.

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