On average, adults around the world spend one-third of their lives at work. Given the amount of time spent at work, it's only natural for employees to want a sense of belonging and purpose at work. In fact, a study from the Center for Talent Innovation found that employees who feel as they belong are 3.5 times more likely to be productive, motivated and engaged.

Unfortunately, according to recent data from the EY Belonging Barometer, 40 percent of employees surveyed report feeling isolated in the workplace. And this sense of isolation can lead to disengagement or cause employees to go so far as to find new jobs.

An inclusive workplace can boost productivity and employee satisfaction. Consider the following tips to ensure everyone on your team feels included and appreciated.

Get to know employees personally.

While a lot of people believe in completely separating personal and business lives, getting to know employees personally can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your team engaged.

At my company of nearly 200 employees, most employees participate in weekly team meetings. Each of these meetings kicks off with employees sharing their best personal news and best business news from the past week. We do the same on a quarterly basis in planning meetings. This helps the team get to know one another better and understand what keeps one another motivated to succeed.

Beyond sharing personal updates in team meetings, it's important for managers to know employees on a personal level. Whether you have weekly check-ins or other meetings with employees, ask how they're doing personally to show you care about more than simply their work performance. Doing so can help you build better rapport and increase the chances of employees sticking with your team for the long haul.

Recognize employees publicly.

Some employees might feel a sense of isolation because they don't receive enough feedback -- positive or negative -- on their overall performance. While one-on-one check ins between employees and their managers can help with this challenge, another option is public recognition. By praising employees when they go above and beyond, they'll a true sense of belonging on the team.

Each Tuesday morning, my company hosts an all team huddle and all 200 employees are expected to attend. In addition to running through what each team is up to and general company updates, we kick off each meeting with core value shout outs. Each week, employees are recognized during the huddle for living and breathing our core values.

For example, one of our core values is "Create WOW Moments." If an employee goes the extra mile to ensure teach a team member a new skill or solve a customer issue, he or she will get a shout out in the huddle. And some individual teams throughout the company have monthly or quarterly awards to recognize employees who have done great work. This motivates employees to continue doing great work and live up to our core values.

Encourage cross-team collaboration.

At some companies, employees are siloed within their own teams and might feel isolated from other teams throughout the business. To prevent this from happening, you can encourage employees to interact with other teams.

Cross-team collaboration at my company starts off during each employee's first week. While new employees likely have lunch with their managers or teams on the first day, they get lunch with several employees across teams during their second day on the job. This gives new employees the opportunity to introduce themselves to other team members they might not have otherwise come into contact with so early in their tenure with the company.

Beyond introductory lunches, my team encourages cross-team collaboration in a variety of ways. Managers across teams meet regularly to share what's working and what's not on their teams. And two weeks a year, we host all company onsite meetings. A few dozen employees work remotely around the country, so these onsite meetings give in-office and remote employees a chance to collaborate. During the onsite weeks, we host team-building events, have employees from different teams "walk a mile" in each other's shoes -- learning what teams across the company do on a daily basis -- and more.

If employees on your team feel a sense of isolation as 40 percent of U.S. employees do, this can cause productivity to take a hit. By following these tips and identifying other ways to help employees feel included, you can keep employees excited to come to work every day and do their best work for your team.

Published on: Mar 25, 2019
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