Creating A Sense of Belonging in the Midst of COVID-19

November 16, 2020

Having a sense of belonging is like knowing you have an umbrella on a rainy day; it is the safe haven you can go to, knowing that you will be sheltered.

Creating a sense of belonging is crucial because it is our innate desire to be accepted and to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Businesses might overlook fostering a sense of belonging, automatically assuming that once someone is hired, a sense of belonging is there waiting for them. However, this isn’t necessarily true and now with the introduction of COVID-19, creating a sense of belonging has become an obstacle within itself, as many of us are by ourselves working from home.

Finding Belonging, Fierce Style

I started my job at Fierce Creative back in June, right when the pandemic was kicking off. Truth be told, I was nervous! Of course, like everyone, I was comfortable meeting people in person and fostering a connection, but things are different now. What would that be like virtually? What would everyone think of me? Would I assimilate into the culture successfully or would it be too much?

Five months later, and I feel like there’s no place I’d rather be.

Creating a sense of belonging is much more than saying, “Welcome to the team.” It is saying, “We’re so glad you’re a part of our team.” It is inviting them into the space, not as an outsider proving themselves, but as a friend that has already been deemed worthy. That is exactly what Fierce Creative did for me, and what you should do for any onboarding employees.

It’s important to note that creating a sense of belonging isn’t just for new employees, though. It is just as important to make your employees that have been there feel just as valued in their work. It’s safe to say that everyone needs a little reassurance during these crazy times.

So what does this look like in practice? There are so many ways to increase a sense of belonging, but hopefully, these three tips can get you started on the road to more engagement and more productivity that comes from having a strong sense of belonging.

Be Intentional

What makes one employee feel like they belong will be different than their coworkers. Take the time to get to know each one of your employees. What are their goals? What makes them feel safe and secure? If it’s knowing they can express their opinions. Awesome, give them a platform to do so. If it’s being recognized for their accomplishments, great, implement a team recognition day. Take the time to understand your employees and make room for them to feel valued and secure within the workplace.

Sometimes starting with a simple, “how are you?” is all you need.

Create Opportunities to Come Together

In the melodic words of The Beatles, All Together Now!

Now more than ever, it’s important to create opportunities for employees to come together. Whether it’s through safe, social distancing get-togethers, or virtual office parties, consider ways in which you can bring your company together. This is also a good time to think about how your teams may be structured and how they can be revamped to encourage more interaction. Maybe it’s having breakout sessions during virtual team meetings, or developing an office “spirit week” through Slack, or whatever your communication system may be. Bottom line—get creative! It’s the perfect time to think outside of the box.

Keep the Vision Alive

I know, I know, there are so many other things to worry about than bringing up the mission and vision again. But, having a shared purpose greatly contributes to a person’s sense of belonging. Set time aside to regularly revisit your purpose and values and goals to ensure they reflect your organization and where you’re going. Here at Fierce, we are dedicated to giving our best, 110%, 24/7, 365.

So whether we’re in the office, or working remotely from home during a pandemic, we all know what our mission is.

Even though we might not be together physically, we are all on the same page of what we need to deliver. It’s this shared vision that has brought us closer during this time.

If you leave with nothing else, leave with the understanding of why creating a sense of belonging is important. It doesn’t just affect the new employees, but your company as a whole. People who feel they belong perform better, become more willing to challenge themselves, and are more resilient. And who doesn’t want that for their organization?