A third of workers feel the greatest sense of belonging in the workplace, compared to 62% who feel that in their home, according to EY’s Belonging Barometer study. The survey of 1,000 employed Americans found that half of the respondents believe diversity is best represented at work.
Almost 40% of respondents said they have the greatest feeling of belonging when colleagues regularly check to see how they’re doing, both personally and professionally. Most of the female respondents (61%) said they believe exclusion is a form of workplace bullying, compared to only 53% of males in the study. More than 40% of employees from all generations said social exclusion at work makes them feel emotionally and physically isolated, stressed, angry and sad.
EY said that even though the social climate of today is seen as controversial and contentious, people at work are coming together in more positive and surprising ways, regardless of background, race, gender or sexual orientation. Citing other research about work, EY said that when people feel they belong, they’re more motivated, engaged, productive and 3.5 times more likely to contribute fully and innovatively to reach their potential.
Employment experts conclude that diversifying the workplace is ineffective without inclusion efforts. While diversity is a goal, a target for reaching certain numbers or percentages of groups of workers, inclusion are steps employers take to ensure belonging, engagement and recognition of those groups. In a 2017 interview, Ken Bouyer, EY’s Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting, told HR Dive that teams with a mix of gender, age, ethnicity and other diversities improve decision-making solutions for clients because of their various viewpoints and wider range of experiences.
Inclusion is essential for all workers, especially for under-represented groups. A 2017 Harris Poll found that a lack of belonging, or outright mistreatment, forces women and minorities out of tech jobs. In another survey, women of color reported suffering an “emotional tax” after being undermined by colleagues, which hurt their health and, in som cases, caused them to leave their jobs.
Meeting diversity goals and checking off a list of inclusion efforts aren’t enough; employers need to know whether their efforts are working. Diversity Best Practices (DBP), a division of Working Mother Media, released an Inclusion Index in 2017, which assesses companies’ diversity and inclusion performance. When organizations know through metrics whether their D&I efforts are achieving set goals, they can make the adjustments to improve employee engagement, experience and productivity.