Winning the war for talent: How to meet the belonging needs of employees

The war on talent continues to be an issue that many organizations have to contend with. As employees prioritize their own needs and look for companies that will support them, businesses struggle to attract and keep talent. Now, US employers spend almost three million dollars per day looking for replacement employees. That’s just one country. The impact across the globe is even larger.

By understanding and addressing employee needs, organizations can establish themselves as good places to work, satisfying existing workers while attracting and retaining the talented recruits that drive business forward. In fact, 91% of workers at companies led by leaders that support well-being efforts say they feel motivated to do their best at their job. 

This article is the second in a series of three that focuses on the war for talent and how the Mapiq pyramid of well-being can be applied to create a successful workplace. The first post in the series gave insight into concrete needs, and in this post, we’ll focus on belonging needs.

Group of people collaborating inside meeting room.

The Mapiq pyramid of well-being

Before we jump in, here’s a quick overview of our pyramid of well-being and why organizations are applying this concept.

Companies have a strong motivation to attract and retain top performers while achieving and maintaining an ideal work environment for current employees. With this in mind, we created the Mapiq pyramid of workplace well-being. This framework transforms personal well-being concepts into organizational principles.

The relationship between employee and employer is symbiotic if you have the right plans in place to support it. Employers see the benefits of productive employees when they’re happy with their work environment. People appreciate (and tend to stick around) when there’s harmony between their work environment and their needs.

To address this issue, we identified the three employee needs that are key to any thriving workplace:

  • Concrete needs
  • Belonging needs
  • Actualization needs

You can think of these needs as the pillars of an attractive office and company culture. When you satisfy these core needs, you can more easily attract talented recruits and retain high-performing members of your workforce. Now, let’s take a closer look at the second element of concern in the ideal workplace: belonging. 


What are belonging needs? 

Belonging needs revolve around a sense of community in the workplace. These needs can play a big role in employees' perception of their organization, which is more important than ever. According to a study done last year, 73% of employees would consider leaving their jobs for the right offer, even if they aren’t looking to make a career change at that specific moment.

Knowing this, employers have to consider the impact of belonging. Some of the questions surrounding belonging needs include:

  • How do people relate to each other and their space? 
  • How does the environment enable their work?
  • Do they value their coworkers? 
  • Do they feel valued by their employer?

This may also show up in how you address employees' concerns. Do you listen to them and take action based on what they have to say when appropriate? Doing so increases psychological safety: the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. Workforce leaders also see this importance, with 89% of HR leaders agreeing that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes.

Beyond that, for belonging needs to be met, a workplace must foster the four Cs: connection, contact, confirmation, and camaraderie.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these four Cs.


Connection

Do employees feel at ease moving through the workplace and interacting across responsibilities? Do they feel an attachment to their place of work and to the people that work there? 

If you’re still working in a hybrid environment or fully remote, the connection to a team or to people replaces the connection to a permanent desk. You have to think through ways to help people forge meaningful connections, even when they can’t be together in person. 

Contact

People need personal interaction to thrive. Activity-based spaces where people can work with one another encourage informal meetings and conversations that strengthen bonds. This is increasingly important in the digital age, where it is rare to be in the same place at the same time.

Outside of an office building, it’s all about team structure and building remote spaces. Clarify the roles of people on your team and give them opportunities to engage with each other. Make it clear that communication channels like email or slack can also be used to get to know people in the organization better.

Confirmation

Give your people the freedom to learn and grow. For example, you could connect them to a mentor and allow time on their schedule for them to meet if they wish. Open the door for people to be able to interact with each other in ways that feel valuable and genuine, no matter where they are.

It creates social cohesion and a sense of belonging that’s difficult to match in any other way. The goal is to give people the room (literally and figuratively) to be passionate about what they do and deliver on the kind of work that they do best.

Further, employees want to be recognized: both for the work they do with their team and for their work individually. 43% of workers said that a lack of recognition is one of their biggest sources of unhappiness at work. Recognizing employees, their efforts, and their accomplishments is critical to helping them feel secure in their roles.

Camaraderie

Managers can create opportunities for employees to connect in their off-hours through activities that run the gamut from recreational sports, company picnics, or group volunteer events. When it comes to socialization, though, participation must be strictly voluntary. Forcing people to do something outside of work defeats the essence of belonging. 

On the flip side, providing the opportunity to relax with colleagues can create moments of true camaraderie. You can’t force companionship, but it’s one of the strongest pillars of belonging when it happens organically. 

What happens when belonging needs are met?

Once you understand belonging needs, it may seem like there are some changes you could make that would be “nice to have,” but there’s much more to it than that. Meeting belonging needs benefits everyone in your organization. When employees have their belonging needs met, their motivation increases. It’s also easier for companies to retain employees who truly feel like they belong. 

The question is: How do you meet these needs on a more granular level as your employees move through their day-to-day work?

How employers can meet belonging needs

Employers have three primary ways to meet belonging needs: technology, physical space modifications, and strong company culture. A study by Hassell and Empirica Research shows 37% of job candidates will accept a job with a lower salary if the company offers appealing culture, workplace facilities, and technology.

This makes it clear that the reasons employees accept offers or switch jobs are changing. They aren’t only thinking about money. They’re thinking about the things that will make the work environment comfortable and enjoyable for them. Let’s look at the necessities for technology, workspaces, and culture in more detail.

Leveraging the power of technology

Hybrid working has promoted technology as a bridge that can reunite teams and foster collaboration. It used to be that if you weren’t in the office at the same time as a coworker, you didn’t have the opportunity to connect. That’s no longer the case. 

Technology helps teams have face-to-face interactions through video calls, which increases satisfaction at work. For those who are returning to the office, workplace management tools can help employees locate where their team members are working from within the building. This drives more frequent communication and collaboration between team members. 


The application of technology doesn’t end with meetings. Organizations can also encourage their employees to use technology to collaborate on files in real-time, share information, or improve project management processes. 

Finally, technology helps organizations both attract younger workers and retain existing employees. When you use technology to understand how employees interact with each other and their spaces, you can make improvements that reflect workers' needs and preferences.

Dedicated collaboration spaces

Look at the plans for your office space, or the current layout of your office if it’s already established. If you aren’t paying attention to this, you’ll miss out on opportunities to build a heightened sense of belonging and socialization.

Collaborative spaces can include meeting rooms designed to accommodate hybrid or remote workers, ensuring that no employee feels excluded even if they’re not in the office. They could also include lounge areas, informal meeting rooms, or activity spaces where employees can take a break to relax. While having these spaces might seem like just a trend, they can reduce stress and anxiety.

While this may be more challenging as we return to life in a post-pandemic world, organizations can’t afford to ignore collaborative space. Especially in flex workforces, people will want to use the time they spend in the office as moments of connection. They’ll also need a way to invite people working virtually into a space. 

These spaces are at the core of culture. They allow for bonding between employees while showing that an organization cares for employees' well-being and happiness levels. This is important to incoming talent as well, as they want to know that the company they work for really cares about them.

Forge a culture of connection

Last but not least, employees need to feel that they can responsibly align their own identities with the culture of their employer. Belonging to a group is crucial for well-being, and people want to feel that they fit into the community around them at work. It’s not all that different from personal life.  

Supportive environments trigger responses in the brain that lead to better collaboration and problem-solving. This kind of belonging also strongly correlates to commitment in the workplace, translating directly to employee retention, pride, and motivation.

Organizations should examine their values and make sure they align with the values of their employees. Once they establish and confirm those values, they can create social events that unite workers around a core idea, teach around diversity and inclusivity and promote a culture people can be proud of 

One report found that when employees are proud of their company culture, there are a range benefits related to recruiting and retaining employees. These include 26% less employee turnover, 100% more unsolicited employment applications, and 15% greater employee productivity.

From a business perspective, data shows it’s wise to focus on culture. A long-term study shows that organizations with a thriving company culture saw a 682% increase in revenue in just over a decade. In contrast, companies without a thriving company culture grew by less than 200% in revenue during the same period.

Using the Mapiq well-being pyramid to meet belonging needs

The Mapiq pyramid does more than reveal the workings behind how organizations are creating successful office environments. It also shows you how you can recreate it. When you focus on belonging needs, you increase organizational engagement, retention, and the likelihood that your employees will go beyond customer or client expectations.

By harnessing the power of technology, space modifications, and culture, you can create a workplace that employees are attracted to and will want to keep being a part of for years to come. If you want to win the war on talent, taking steps to meet these needs must be at the core of your strategy. Research shows that 89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.

Keep coming back to our blog for more information on applying the Mapiq pyramid and meeting actualization needs.

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