Belonging is considered a basic human need, yet many employers fall short when it comes to fostering a sense of belonging in their workplaces. One recent study found that being more intentional about employee belonging can lead to positive business results. 

"The Value of Belonging at Work," a study from BetterUp, a career and leadership coaching platform, examined the measurable value of belonging in the workplace.

The study, which surveyed 1,789 full-time workers from a variety of industries, found that a strong sense of belonging show a 56 percent increase in job performance and a 50 percent decrease in turnover risk. The data also showed that employees who feel as though they belong  are 167 percent more likely to recommend their employer as a great place to work.

Given the strong case for belonging in the workplace, how can you foster a culture of inclusion at your workplace? I've highlighted some key tips below. 

1. Encourage interactions across teams. 

Your employees likely spend plenty of time with their direct team members, but might feel somewhat isolated if they don't recognize other employees around the office or colleagues who work remotely. To boost belonging, you should encourage all employees to get to know staff outside their direct teams.

On my team of more than 200 employees, we start encouraging cross-team interactions during the first week. New employees are introduced in front of the whole company during our weekly huddle. Each batch of new employees also gets lunch one day during the first week week with a few tenured employees from other teams--helping new staff better understand our culture and how different teams work together. 

My team also taps into a Slack app called Donut, which pairs up two random employees from across the company to get to know one another. Once paired in the app, these employees can get a donut, coffee, lunch or simply video chat with one another informally to forge connections and support a sense of belonging across teams. 

2. Recognize employees for their hard work. 

Some employees might feel as though they don't belong because they don't receive any feedback on their work performance. This can ultimately leave them questioning whether or not they're living up to expectations, and can even cause their engagement and productivity to take a hit. 

To boost productivity and inclusion at your company, recognize your employees when they do great work. Managers can do this on an individual basis, specific examples can be called out in smaller team meetings or employees can be recognized publicly to support an even greater sense of belonging. 

On my team, employees are recognized each week in our all-company huddle for exemplifying our core values in the previous week. For example, one of our core values is "Eager to Improve." If a certain employee went above and beyond to solve a difficult problem, he or she will be recognized for doing so. Ultimately, this will make employees feel valued and motivate the rest of your team to do great work every week. 

3. Collect, and act on, employee feedback. 

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about a study from ServiceNow that found more than half (55 percent) of employees don't think their opinions matter to their employers. If this is the case on your team, it will leave employees feeling frustrated and as though they don't truly belong on the team. 

Your team should have a process in place to collect employee feedback on a regular basis. One way to do so is by distributing employee feedback surveys. Not only can you collect general feedback about various aspects of your organization and culture through these surveys, but you can also ask employees whether or not they feel a sense of belonging, so you can measure this directly, and take steps to boost inclusion efforts. 

Once you receive and analyze employee feedback, share the results with all employees and outline next steps to address the feedback. This will make employees feel like they're truly part of a team and contributing to continued improvement at your organization. 

Employee belonging is all too often overlooked by employers--but it's critical to employee retention and productivity. By taking proactive steps to encourage belonging across your team, you can boost employee engagement, and as a result, drive profit for your business.

Published on: Sep 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.