The decline of the American community is a sad and news worthy topic. Researchers tell us that Americans are less likely to join groups and have long-lasting friendships today than they were in previous decades. Similarly, Americans have become increasingly disconnected from our social structures – whether they be PTA, church, or political parties.
And as you might guess, there are negative consequences that spring up from having a disconnected society that does not promote a sense of belonging.
Why Do We Need to Belong?
Our need to belong is what drives us to seek out stable, long lasting relationships with other people. It also motivates us to participate in social activities such as clubs, sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations. By belonging to a group, we feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.
In past blogs I have discussed Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a key organizational behavior theory that explains human motivation. As shown below, the need to belong is in the middle of this pyramid indicating that the need for food and safety are more critically important to humans, but once those needs are satisfied, an individual is motivated to find acceptance and a sense of belonging by others. The need for belonging can be met by building relationships with family members, friends, or co-workers.
Creating a Sense of Belonging at Work Has a Positive Impact
Studies in the field of psychology have shown that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and persistence, even when given unattainable goals. That is how and why groups that have high affiliation are able to succeed. On the flip side, if there is low affiliation among group members, they are both less motivated to complete tasks and less likely to persevere when there are challenges.
The Gallup Organization has surveyed hundreds of work forces from around the world and has found that friendships at work “appear to be vital and a key differentiator between successful work groups and less successful work groups.”
Can you think of a time when you felt invincible and strong alongside your teammates? This is what a sense of social belonging does to inspire and ignite motivation and persistence.
What to do?
Great managers build highly productive teams by creating a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and friendship. Creating a sense of belonging at work is more important today than ever as Americans become less likely to establish those important ties outside of work.
Allowing managers the freedom and budget to invest in on-site or off-site team building is critical.
What has your organization done in the last six months to foster a sense of belonging at work? The research presented here illustrates that taking time away from work to build strong ties through team building is more important than you might initially think.
To learn more about group training options related to building a cohesive team go to:
To learn more about the research presented in this blog go to: