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Belonging meaning and definition

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Belonging definition

Belonging refers to our individual sense of being accepted for who we are (not in spite of it), which results in the personal feeling that you are accepted, welcome and are a valued member of a team, group or environment. True “belonging” should never be as a result of having to hide elements of yourself or information about your identity (see Covering), background or culture, or having to conform to prescribed behaviours or expectations in order to “fit-in”.  

As such, belonging is seen as the outcome of a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace, where individual identities and differences are accepted, and where people are valued for being their genuine or authentic selves. 

Real-world context

  • Wellbeing & performance: Employees are more likely to feel anxious about their place in the company and to feel less free to be who they truly are if they don't feel like they belong. Furthermore, their capacity and motivation to work together as well as their performance are all hampered by their fear and insecurity.  
  • Retention: Lack of a sense of belonging is a frequent reason for employees leaving the workplace. According to research by Great Place to Work, those employees who have a feeling of belonging are three times more likely to look forward to coming to work and five times more likely to want to stay at their company for a long time. 
  • Brand reputation: According to Harvard Business Review, workers who felt they belonged as a part of their workplace had a 167% rise in their employer promoter score (i.e., willingness to recommend the company to others). A positive reputation is crucial to attract new talent to the business and encourage those who are conscious about inclusion. 

Related services

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