According to research from last year, under a third of UK office workers claimed to feel that they “completely belong” within their company. Even more worrying is that over a third claimed to have “no bond at all” with their employer. This must, surely, make terrifying reading for many of us.
Show me an employer that suffers no pain or detriment from high staff churn and/or a disengaged workforce and I’ll show you the six-pack that I’ve not got after a year of eating my lockdown frustrations.
At two of my previous employers, staff turnover could easily be identified as the most significant barrier to achieving business goals. Uncoincidentally, neither of those employers put much value in communication, engagement or recognition – the things that encourage and nurture a sense of belonging in staff.
Here are a few more statistics from the report:
“Feeling valued” was second only to salary in importance to workers, with almost half of workers citing this as vital.
A staggering 80% of workers who don’t feel a sense of community at work are considering leaving their jobs in the next year.
Equally worrying is that only a quarter of employees claim to be “highly likely to recommend their employer to a friend”.
These stat’s underline (in red and at least three times) just how important these “emotional benefits” are to our workforce. We already know that a huge part of that sense of belonging is down to effective communication – both being kept in the loop and up-to-date, and having your voice heard. How can you feel you belong somewhere if you are not kept informed and if you’re not heard?
Only half of those surveyed agreed that their employees are encouraged to express their opinions freely, despite many workers highlighting this as a major factor in helping them to build a positive relationship with their employer. This is frustrating as technology has made meaningful two-way comms with our people so much easier, regardless of their location. Live polling and anonymous, interactive Q&A facilitation, for example, help to build trust, nurture that sense of belonging, and give those at the top a real sense of how their people are feeling and what is on their minds. This can be invaluable.
To clarify, nurturing emotional benefits isn’t about not managing people. It’s not about not having targets or KPIs and it’s not about not having those difficult conversations when they’re needed and justified. It is about recognising people for doing well, for trying hard and making a difference. It’s about building loyalty, commitment and morale. As well as making your people feel valued from above, why not give your teams the opportunity to express their appreciation for each other? Maslow famously stated that the need for “belonging” encompasses both feeling loved and feeling love towards others. (You can read about that here.) So, is there a better way to instil or reinforce that sense of belonging and to encourage better inter-team relationships, two of the three most significant wants for UK workers right now?
We need to communicate better with our people. And listen to our people. To trust and delegate. Set clear objectives. Recognise and value their efforts.
The reward will be a more engaged, loyal, hard-working, committed and happier team. And that means less time lost to exit interviews, handovers, perusing CVs, interviewing, inducting, training and all of the other time and resource-draining tasks that come from having a high staff turnover.