Humans connect together in unique ways. Finding a sense of belonging is a basic human need- just like the need for security, shelter and food.
Making deep connections to other people is pivotal to our experience of fulfilment in life. This is often found in communities.
Communities can be found in a religion, friends or family and it provides a sense of the collective; we all want to be attracted and compelled by a purpose.
As described by social psychologist McMillan & Chavis, “sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together" (1976).
How to build community in the workplace?
To build a sense of belonging and community in the workplace amongst coworkers requires three factors.
Create a sense of membership in your teams. Membership means belonging to a group of like-minded people, which requires personal investment and specialised skill-set, values and/ or character.
As a leader, ensure you control membership by creating boundaries on how people become members- keeping other people out who don’t fit in with the groups collective culture and criteria.
As a result, membership makes people inside the group feel special because they are a part of something that has a shared identity.
The role of identification provides a sense of belonging and acceptance by the group, fostering stronger relationships between members and encouraging greater contributions and accountability to output.
Create platforms to congregate
Colleagues need to be able to connect at work. The “water-cooler” theory has found there is significant impacts of workplace socialising.
Social cohesion increases productivity, collaboration and job satisfaction. Face-to-face time together, either through daily huddles, team gatherings or information exchanges, encourages positive conversation that are open and transparent as well as relationship building amongst teams.
Leaders who make time and space for employees to gather together to get to know each other is an invaluable investment in workplace community.
Acknowledgement & Recognition
In order to successfully grow and sustain communities, leadership needs to recognise contributions and team achievements within workplace communities.
Authentic acknowledgment & recognition creates a work environment where colleagues feel valued and aligned to their organisation and community they hold memberships to.
Ensure your recognition is personalised to each membership. This is how you further embed the values and behaviours you want to see in your workplace communities.
Finally, acknowledgment should always go hand and hand with empowerment. Trust your team’s expertise in the workplace community and provide team players with more responsibility when its earned.