Being and Belonging at Work: Why it matters.

Finding Community at Work

Humans are social creatures. We generally want to feel like we belong to something. If we spend so much time and effort with people at work, it just makes sense that we would want a closer connection to them.

Building a community starts with a culture of empathy and awareness of others. In the documentary, OPS was able to build a sense of community by prioritizing an employee-centric mindset. One of their tactics was actually hiring a social worker to help identify problems their employees were facing, and then finding ways the organization could help. Although this is a non-traditional approach, it starts with the idea of focusing on your employees to build a better environment.

Manager Tips

Greg Ralph, from the documentary, said it best. “Unless you ask the people that are out there doing the work, what’s important to them, you’re just taking a shot in the dark every single time.” Whether through company events, team-building activities, or by simply soliciting suggestions for how the organization can help, if you’re not asking them, you’ll never get it right.

It doesn’t always have to be an expensive outing. Sometimes employees would just prefer to have the time and space to engage with each other in a nonwork setting. Create meetings designed to literally get people together to “not talk about work”. Set up regular coffee chats through a system where people are chosen at random, to promote meeting others outside of their immediate department. There are a number of ways to try and get people connected with one another. Most importantly though, don’t just create these events. Allow time for people to attend and encourage them to make connections at their own pace, through their own preferred channels.

Employee Tips

Any organization will have people from all walks of life. This means there are many stories, perspectives, and experiences that you and your colleagues can share. Promote ideas like potlucks or happy hours to get to know others and help them get to know you.

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