“We only trust that we belong to the degree we are willing to risk being known.” – Connor Beaton
At first, belonging might sound like an amorphous word – a word that sounds like a good idea but still feels undefined. To others, belonging might sound intimidating, perhaps reflecting a feeling of vulnerability.
Belonging is a word that has become more common as a result of the pandemic. Those strange gap years gave us our perspective on the extremes of the human experience as we experienced a global shift that at once made us all feel the same and extremely separate and apart at the same time. COVID-19 wasn't the only factor. Societal unrest and political upheaval played a role. In many cases, people felt isolated and lonely. People dug into their political corners and ideologies. At work, levels of engagement plummeted as businesses were rocked to their core.
But what if we take a broader view of how human beings yearn to be connected? Belonging is woven into our DNA. It's part of the fabric of our being. Belonging is not optional but rather a part of the human experience. In the workplace, belonging is paramount to engagement – yet statistics reveal that 40% of employees feel isolated and disconnected at work. Beyond that, research tells us that companies reap substantial bottom-line benefits if workers feel like they belong. High belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk and a 75% reduction in sick days.
Haskell’s Diversity Suite explores various aspects of belonging. In our Knowing Your ABCs: Allyship, Belonging, and Creating Equity course, we explore some of the tenets of belonging. Besides being a critical part of team members feeling included, valued and appreciated at work, the feeling of belonging contributes to the bottom line and improves workplace environments around the globe.
In his powerful book Together, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of the United States, highlights the crippling effects of loneliness and the toll that it takes on all of us, individually and corporately. He calls out a study revealing that the effects of pervasive loneliness on our physical health and well-being can be likened to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
At work and in the rest of our lives, belonging often takes some intentionality. Some seasons of life provide us with connections to community, while others require more effort to reach out seeking partnership, collaboration and friendship. I know my life has worked this way. As a mom, I can easily remember when my children were very little, and the time spent at home with them was both enriching and lonely. Before Haskell, when I worked as an adjunct professor and an independent contractor, I enjoyed the freedom but also craved the connection of closer colleagues. At Haskell, I strive to balance the independence that comes with working from home while maintaining a connection to my home office in Jacksonville, Florida. There is a balance of belonging to be struck.
Author and speaker Brene Brown asserts that belonging begins from within. While we may see it as a link to the outside world or a way to fit in or feel like we’re with the “in crowd,” it is more of an internal practice that helps us navigate the social landscape. Perhaps counterintuitively, belonging to the group begins with belonging to ourselves and feeling rooted in who we are and what we believe. As the opening quote of this article suggests, so much of our sense of belonging comes from the sometimes scary willingness to let people get to know us.
At Haskell, we can seek and encourage a sense of belonging in some specific, tangible ways, such as …:
This Construction Inclusion Week, consider practicing your sense of belonging as a radical act of self-care.
About the author: Taylor Williams, M.Ed., Ed.S., is a Master Corporate Trainer in Learning, Development, and Engagement at Haskell. Her passion for personal development, mental health, communication, emotional intelligence, and innovation inspires her work. With a background in mental health, business, design thinking, and performance, Taylor is passionate about helping people create lives - in and outside of work - that help them feel like the best version of themselves. She has bachelor's and master’s degrees from the University of Florida, where she played volleyball. She also has two elementary-aged kids who are her best friends!
Fostering a sense of belonging is just one of the ways that Haskell strives to ensure that every team member enjoys the BEST job of their life. Contact us to learn more.
Haskell delivers more than $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,300 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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