Beyond handing out company jerseys and caps, what can an organization do to help its employees identify with its culture and defend its interests?
That is the million dollar question, and it is not only what employers want to know, but also work specialists, such as industrial psychologists and human resources advisors.
This is certainly the case of DuBois & Associates, a group of industrial psychologists based in Laval. They searched for answers for nearly 15 years, allowing them to classify more than 3,000 studies on the sense of belonging at both the individual and organizational levels. They have relied on more than 85 interventions in organizational development, for which more than 50,000 executives and employees of Canadian, US and European companies have participated in.
They found that the most successful companies could count on the unwavering commitment of more than 90% of their staff, while average companies stood at 73% and those with problems generally obtained scores below 60%.
A major impact
Pierre DuBois, president of DuBois & Associates, agrees. “The impact of the sense of belonging is major. It generates benefits for both the employee and the organization. It plays a role on performance, on the perception of tasks to be accomplished, on absenteeism and on the willingness to change.”
These results are important because they help to understand the phenomenon of one’s willingness to adapt to or resist change. As DuBois says, “the more staff identifies with the company, the more flexible and accepting they are towards change.” An important perspective for many business leaders who face different challenges and have to count on the commitment of their staff to overcome them.
Six emerging factors
“The study’s conclusions have highlighted six management factors that determine a sense of belonging in both large and small businesses, among employees just as in executives, in manufacturing or in service companies,” says DuBois. These factors are essential for managers who wish to establish or develop a concrete sense of belonging.
In order of importance, “consideration and respect from superiors towards their employees, the emphasis on quality and customer service, clearly defined tasks, challenging tasks, the quality of information provided to staff on the company's objectives, and finally, administrative efficiency are the factors that sustain a sense of belonging,” states DuBois.
How to get there
“To properly develop a true sense of belonging, the strategy is both simple and complex,” he says. “The first step is to measure, through a questionnaire, the sense of ownership and management factors responsible for one’s development, to identify and correct the problematic factors, by determining what behaviours are to be removed and which ones are to be praised to secure the results from the organizational diagnosis.”
Our expert likes to remind that one “cannot hope for progress without taking concrete action.” The sense of belonging is directly linked to the performance and success of businesses. It must therefore be at the heart of every manager and business executive’s concerns.