Home Our Work Belonging: The Future of Work

Belonging: The Future of Work

Rani Khalon Laura Hunt

We recently had the opportunity to attend the Future of Work conference in London, a gathering that brought together passionate professionals in employee engagement, internal communications, and HR. It was inspiring to join forces with others who share our goal of unlocking the immense energy and potential within employees. 

Rani Khalon (DEI Centre of Excellence Lead) and Laura Hunt (Wellbeing Lead), ran a roundtable session centred around the opportunities to foster employee belonging by connecting the dots between DEI and wellbeing. There was much interest in the topic and high levels of engagement from professionals across multiple sectors who were sharing similar challenges.  

Following that great reception, we thought it would be useful to share some of the thinking and learnings from the sessions to give you a better understanding of the future of DEI, wellbeing and the working world. 

Belonging in a changing world 
In today’s business landscape, constantly shaped by digital innovation, individual talents, and a strong push towards inclusivity, integrating DEI and wellbeing has never been more crucial. Despite companies launching several DEI and wellbeing initiatives over the last three years, employees are feeling more drained, burnt out, and disconnected than ever before. It seems like even with the best of intentions, something is missing. 

When exploring what may be causing that increasing disengagement and lack of belonging, we found common themes amongst HR and Internal Communication leads:

1) People are drowning in a sea of messages.

Remember when the pandemic first hit and we were all chatty about diversity, equity, and inclusion? Back then, there was a nonstop flow of engagement. But, like a puff of smoke, it’s vanished into thin air. Consequently, the constant feedback sought regarding areas for improvement has become tiresome, and after years of communication, employees remain uncertain about how they fit within their organisation’s objectives.

Is the information overload matching the chance to put it into action? It’s like being given a million tools but no project to tackle. The lack of connection between employee experiences and company communications has led to an unsettling imbalance. Communications were previously viewed as merely functional outputs, consisting of company updates and festive events.  

What can I do about it? 

To adapt effectively, companies should shift from the conventional notice board approach to using communication strategically to enhance employee experiences. Embrace innovative communication methods that resonate with a diverse and dispersed workforce, ensuring that every interaction contributes positively to their overall experience and sense of belonging. 

2) When life outside of work is throwing curveballs, staying in the moment during work hours can feel like an uphill battle.

It’s crucial for organisations to learn how to navigate and discuss the uncertainty employees face in an evolving world. We are currently living in a world that is vastly different from what we are accustomed to. In the last few years there has been continual economical and political difficulties impacting employees standard of living, familial situations and mental health. Fusing with the standardisation of remote working and the collective shifts about the dynamic between employee and employer is creating a whole new playground with new rules and expectations. Every day brings new challenges and uncertainties, making it difficult for people across the globe to cope.  

What can I do about it? 

To address these issues, focus on the art of connecting with others. Instead of striving for perfection in communication, seek to understand the root of employees’ feelings of disconnection. Work towards creating moments that offer a sense of belonging and understanding. These efforts can help ground your employees, fostering a more inclusive and connected environment. 

3) Trying to give your team a consistent and engaging experience while they’re remote and/or hybrid is no easy task.  

It’s even tougher when leaders and organisations are still struggling to navigate this complex environment. Exploring these feelings made it evident that the goal was not merely to create a shared experience for all employees. In reality, many teams are understaffed and being asked to tackle complex challenges with limited resources. They will require a supportive environment to reach all aspects of their organisation and foster change. Building a company that feels inclusive and provides opportunities for everyone to succeed is akin to raising a child—it takes a village, or in this case, an entire organisation. 

During our discussion, we exchanged stories about how we navigated project challenges and helped our clients succeed. It was interesting to see that many of us faced similar difficulties in making sure that employees felt the positive impact of our work in a timely manner. This made us wonder: is it really possible to create a work environment that fosters a sense of belonging without the proper infrastructure and support from various departments? It almost feels like a quest for the holy grail. 

One pressing matter we noticed is how companies struggle with nurturing a sense of community and belonging in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving world.  

What can I do about it? 

It’s essential to actively cultivate a sense of belonging among employees. Recognise that a strong connection to the company culture and camaraderie with colleagues is the foundation for a thriving ecosystem of growth and engagement. Prioritise creating this bond. Without it, even the most well-crafted communications and experiences may fail to make an impact. Actively engage in initiatives that foster this sense of belonging to ensure your efforts in other areas are effective and meaningful. 

A more complete solution 

As a global company, we’ve seen these challenges crop up across various sectors and cultures. If you want your employees to feel like they truly belong and can thrive, you need to master the art of supporting diverse needs and ensuring inclusivity in your outputs. And at the heart of it all is wellbeing. Are you equipped with the tools to safeguard your employees’ wellbeing and help them flourish within your organisation? 

Bringing together DEI and wellbeing will be the golden ticket to a thriving and enduring organisation come 2024 and beyond. Before diving into how employees are delivering on DEI&B goals, it’s vital to take a step back and understand the real heartbeat of your workforce. Get to know their quirks, stressors, and what sparks their motivation. This will help you gauge how inclusive your organisation truly is, how well it attracts and retains a diverse team, and who is it truly equitable for.

Hear more from our team about our approach to Employee Belonging at the Diversity Conference taking place on 23rd November 2023 in Amsterdam https://thediversityconference.com