This study found a direct relationship between belongingness and the quality of an employee’s relationship with his/her manager. However, it seems that line managers are either reluctant, unavailable, unaware, or unskilled to create a sense of belongingness in their teams. It might thus be interesting for future researchers to explore the real cause of this disconnect and find out how internal communication can help make this relationship flourish.
Every internal communication programme starts with a baseline. It is therefore useful for IC professionals to determine where their workplaces are in terms of a sense of belongingness before they aim to improve or strengthen it. To make sure that belongingness for new hires is taken on board, IC can conduct an initial survey to design a programme that can lead a transformation. They can do this via a questionnaire or random focus groups in the organisation.
The workplace has changed many times and in many ways since the coronavirus pandemic introduced lockdowns in the early part of 2020. With so many lives taken and workers pressured to perform behind their screens while balancing families and careers, mental health has been put under the microscope. This includes an employee’s sense of belongingness.
This blogpost aims to bring together what I have found as what works, what does not work, the themes that emerged during my interviews and the internal communication strategies that design belongingness in the virtual workplace. I managed to bring them all together in a handy model I call the new framework for workplace belonging.
Employee interviews have shown that they welcome nurturing leadership, especially when working from home. How should leaders be and how can IC help?
Employee interviews have shown that random virtual socials can be uncomfortable while teaming events might do the trick.
Employee interviews have shown that new hires need a supportive human network when starting a job. How can IC help?
Employee interviews have shown that one of the strategies that work in creating a sense of belongingness in the virtual workplace is an effective organisational onboarding. What could be IC’s role in this?
Data shows that there are four elements that can make belongingness in the virtual workplace a possibility. It also shows that when the tangible structures of an organisation are eliminated, as we have experienced during the pandemic, those working virtually will have to overcompensate in other ways. Belonging in the virtual workplace setting is no longer about a place but about what makes up that place for individuals. It is about identification with the organisation itself and its people, mattering, being seen, and feeling cared for.
The fourth dominant theme that showed in the interviews is Care. I chose the word Care as the overarching theme for when employees feel cared for. For example, employees appreciate receiving surprise packages on their doorstep and being given the feeling that their contributions are valued. It makes employees feel thought of and taken care of even from afar.