Connection » Inclusion » Engagement

Written By Liz Hunt

Published September 19, 2022

hand-stack of six diverse colleagues reaching across a wooden table with a laptop and scattered papers


Connection » Inclusion » Engagement

Sharing stories and spending time together are two of the best ways to foster connection.

Strengthen inclusion and engagement in your organization by: • nurturing connection through a consistent cadence of engaging, meaningful, and impactful activities; and • investing time and money in a variety of diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice initiatives. You’ll know your workplace is inclusive when everyone feels psychologically safe.

Employee engagement reduces absenteeism and turnover while also increasing productivity and profitability.

To increase employee engagement and double the odds of success for your business, invest in connection and inclusion!

How Engaged Is Your Team?

More than two-thirds of US employees are disengaged, and that number is worse when looking at employees worldwide [Gallup 20221&2]. The negative effects of disengagement show up in an organization’s culture, bottom line, and external reputation [Gensler 20213]. Disengaged employees cost organizations the equivalent of 18% of their annual salaries due to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, and lower profitability (which, in the US alone, adds up to hundreds of billions of dollars in losses annually) [Gallup 20204].

Employees disengage when they don’t feel connected to their colleagues and/or fully included in their organizations.

Connection » Inclusion

Connection — relationships with others and an internal sense of connectedness to others — is a fundamental human need and when present helps people feel they belong [Psychology Today 20205].

Research shows that creating small connections between people through common interests and shared experiences overcomes gender, age, and racial differences and contributes to inclusion [PsychCentral 20216]. Creating consistent rituals for connection is important for sustaining and strengthening inclusion and belonging, especially when their activities involve storytelling or spending time together [HBR 20227]. Understanding another person’s story — the broader aspects of their life, such as hobbies or outside interests, concerns or hardships — can dissolve interpersonal barriers. [Culture Amp8].

Inclusion & Belonging

Inclusion is the extent to which diverse employees are respected, accepted, supported, valued, and encouraged to fully participate in their organization [Gallup 20229].

Gartner identifies seven key dimensions of inclusion: Fair Treatment, Integrating Differences, Decision Making, Psychological Safety, Trust, Belonging, and Diversity [HBR 202110].

Those definitions are great, but are often too academic or complex for most day-to-day purposes.

We teach that inclusion is subjective. An individual feels included or excluded, and their feelings along that spectrum can ebb and flow over time and/or as a result of changes in their workplace or life. Another thing we emphasize is that inclusion is every individual making intentional choices every day to not only welcome, but also to engage and embrace the full spectrum of diversity within their groups.

Some other perspectives on inclusion and belonging that round out the concept of inclusion are…

Kellie Wagner of Collective says… “We look across many dimensions beyond race and gender, including faith, socio-economic upbringing, age and mental and physical disability. We often find that it is those things that are less visible, that people will say they don’t feel like they belong because they believe in this particular faith.” [202111]

“There are two foundational skills to successfully building a culture of belonging: vulnerability and empathy. When these skills become the norm, they help foster a sense of emotional safety and leave employees and team members feeling respected and cared for.” [Hone 202112]

Lily Zheng says… “I find that it's agency--feeling comfortable and able to choose what we bring to work and have our choice be supported--that makes a bigger difference.” [202213] and “You can't have a psychologically safe environment unless EVERYONE in that environment feels like they can take risks and make mistakes without punishment. And if your workforce has any #diversity at all--which chances are, it does--achieving psychological safety is impossible without norms, processes, practices, and policies that ensure a standard of #equity and #inclusion.” [202214]

Madison Butler of Blue Haired Unicorn says… “Advocating for and embracing better psychological safety in a workplace is no easy task. However, it’s the right thing to do. Yes, there are gains to be had in terms of increased engagement and retention, but creating an environment that is inclusive, welcoming, safe, and respectful is its own reward.” [202215]

What’s fundamental to all those concepts? Trust. There won’t be enough (or any) vulnerability, agency, or psychological safety without trust. Inclusion and belonging can’t happen without it. Building and maintaining trust among colleagues, and between employees and companies, is absolutely critical. That’s why we also advocate for accountability in our teachings of inclusion.

Inclusion » Engagement

Studies show a strong correlation between feelings of inclusion and belonging with employee engagement [Deloitte 202116]. Employees who feel very included are nearly three times as likely to report feeling excited by and committed to their organizations. Employee engagement is critical to an organization’s productivity, retention, and financial performance [McKinsey 202017].Teams scoring in the top half on employee engagement more than double their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half through reducing absenteeism by 81%, being 14% more productive, having 18%-43% less turnover, and increasing their organization’s profitability by 23% [Gallup 202018].

Connection » Inclusion » Engagement

Want to increase employee engagement and double the odds of success for your business? Invest in connection and inclusion!