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Creating a workplace ethos that prioritises belonging has a meaningful impact on employees and organisations. Companies that build an ecosystem where each individual feels valued realise positive bottom-line results as well as improved people outcomes including enhanced retention and engagement.

While most businesses recognise the value that comes from belonging and validation, they must also take action to ensure that employees have the tools and support needed to sustain such an environment. To nurture this cultural transformation, I invite all personnel to embrace six foundational practices.

#1 – Listen to Understand, Not to Respond

It is often easy to react before truly comprehending the meaning behind someone else’s statement or action. Through active listening, colleagues gain a shared understanding and thereby feel heard and validated.

Organisations may help the workforce improve these skills by investing in activities such as mindfulness, so that staff grow comfortable pausing and reflecting. Creating space between what has been said and one’s answer can allow people to become more aware of one another’s perspectives and their own perceptions.

Pro Tip – Encourage employees to pause and paraphrase what they have heard teammates say to confirm comprehension and seek clarity if there is a misunderstanding. Once understanding has been achieved, a response can be delivered.

#2 – Bring Awareness to Acceptance Versus Agreement

There is a common misconception that a culture of belonging requires conformity. In reality, an inclusive atmosphere allows individuals to be their authentic selves, and innately, people are likely to have distinct perspectives and come to different conclusions.

That is why it is useful to generate a common organisational understanding of the concept of “Acceptance Versus Agreement.” Acceptance is what enables colleagues to respect one another’s differences. With this point of view, coworkers recognise that, while they may not always agree, they can appreciate alternative approaches and experiences.

Pro Tip – Promoting acceptance by making an effort to recognise people who speak up or share an idea. Simple acknowledgements like “I appreciate your contribution” can have a strong impact.

#3 – Make Time for Emotional Intelligence Training

Emotional intelligence (EQ) helps a person understand their own emotions and address interpersonal connections with empathy and respect. EQ reinforces a welcoming culture because it empowers the workforce to effectively manage their own reactions to situations as well as make room for the needs, perspectives and interests of others.

Assessment tools like the Emergenetics® Profile as well as workshops and trainings that encourage individuals to embrace diverse points of view and build skills in empathy can stimulate a more positive workspace where each person is heard and valued.

Pro Tip – Emphasise the importance of demonstrating EQ by working it into competency matrices or employee appraisals.

#4 – Establish Team Norms

To cultivate a positive and productive workplace, it is important to identify the sorts of actions and behaviours that allow for every individual to be accepted for being who they are and to feel confident in collaborating with distinct personalities. That environment can be nurtured by hosting a robust discussion to develop norms.

By taking time to establish a set of operating rules to guide communication, teamwork and coordination, groups can land on common guidelines to help one another engage and connect in an honest, mindful manner.

Pro Tip – Make the norms visible to staff. For those working in the office, consider posting them in a shared space. For virtual teams, include the norms within chat channels or on a shared intranet page.

#5 – Encourage Active Constructive Responding

Active constructive responding can support workers in strengthening their relationships and creating a welcoming atmosphere. Utilising this communication style, a staff member will share information that they perceive to be good news with their colleague, who will respond by actively engaging in the discussion. This means that they pause their work and focus their attention on their coworker.

In this model, individuals also make a conscious decision to provide constructive feedback, encouraging their team members and supporting the news. Being an active, positive contributor to the conversation enables employees to feel more connected with one another, building community and appreciation.

Pro Tip – Set aside pockets of time during meetings to discuss topics outside of work and encourage team members to share personal joys and successes.

#6 – Celebrate Each Other

Workplace community can be intensified by finding opportunities to recognise and acknowledge coworkers. When a person feels seen for their contributions, they are more likely to be engaged in their role, and if managers and colleagues validate one another, this sense of alignment can be further strengthened.

Consider introducing programmes or activities to honour staff. These do not need to be large-scale celebrations. Simple tributes during a team gathering, public recognition on a chat channel and saying thank you in one-on-one meetings can make a meaningful difference in showing people that they are appreciated.

Pro Tip – Model the way for this practice in small ways and ask people to share how they prefer to be celebrated and recognised. There is truth in the adage different strokes for different folks!

It’s the little things that make a big difference. Daily habits have a way of building up over time to sustain long-term changes that may either promote or diminish a supportive workplace environment. Improve your culture by making sure that employees have opportunities to practise being authentic and empathetic with one another.

I invite readers to choose just one of the tips listed above to begin incorporating into their day-to-day work. You do not need to wait for HR or a manager to lead this change. Every person can make a difference through their individual actions. With a few small commitments, culture transformation can start to take root and blossom into an atmosphere where everyone feels included.

Interested in learning more about how Emergenetics can support your business relationships? Visit our website or fill out the form below to speak with one of our staff members today.

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