tech & trends

As Head of Behavioural Research and Insight at Behave I had the pleasure of speaking at the TECH & TRENDS 22 conference.

TECH & TRENDS is an executive briefing for business leaders (from companies including Accenture, Barclays, Bloomberg, CBRE, Facebook, Investec, Microsoft, Unilever) involved in the future of work and the workplace, technology, real estate, and innovation. Specifically, the 2022 conference was focused on the themes of immersive experiences, the return to the office, talent attraction and retention, and employee experience.

As part of this focus, I spoke about “The how-to of employee experience: The behavioural trump card to foster belonging at work” by answering a range of questions, including “how can belonging help curb the great attrition?”, “what are the dividends of belonging?”, “how can leaders foster belonging?”, and “how can belonging be measured?”.

The challenge: The erosion of belonging

The hypothesis that people are motivated by a strong desire to belong; to form and maintain enduring interpersonal bonds is far from new. John Donne (1975) has been widely quoted for the line “no person is an island”. This hypothesis has been validated by large bodies of empirical findings. However, in the context of the workplace, the consequences of the need to belong (e.g., cognitive processes, emotional patterns, behavioural responses, and well-being) are often underappreciated.

The new ways of working brought by the pandemic have not remained without challenges in terms of belonging. This year, in the UK, 30.9% of employees reported feeling lonely. It is therefore unsurprising that the feeling of loneliness – and its consequences, including a lack of motivation and commitment – is contributing to the great resignation. In 2021, more than 40% of employees were thinking about leaving their jobs and as the year went on, employees quit in unprecedented numbers. As the new ways of working brought by the pandemic are here to stay and will continue to stress-test the social tissue of firms, companies need to identify how to foster a sense of belonging.

The solution: The safeguards of belonging

Fostering a sense of belonging enables companies to reap two key dividends. First, employees become more motivated as they gain a sense of purpose and pride in work and at work. Second, employees become more committed as they gain a sense of cohesion within teams and between teams.

At Behave, we have developed a “safeguards approach” – and have proprietary diagnostic solutions and change solutions – to help companies get to the crux of their employee-related challenges and identify their efficiency frontiers (i.e., identifying the optimal set of actions to achieve the best work performance). What does the “safeguards approach” mean in terms of fostering belonging? To foster belonging, companies need to develop and reinforce two safeguards: leadership and psychological safety.

Leadership is about building values reflected throughout the corporate culture. Companies need to develop its underpinning values: compassion, courage, and growth.

Psychological safety is about building the shared belief that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for speaking up. Companies need to develop its underpinning ingredients: awareness and experimentation, .

To reinforce both leadership and psychological safety, companies can use several solutions based on behavioural science, including emotion regulation strategies (defined as the “processes by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express these emotions”, trainings, workshops, app-based nudging, and coaching.

If you would want to learn more about how our proprietary diagnostic solutions and change solutions can help you solve employee-related challenges, please contact our Behave team.

Dr Alexandra Dobra-Kiel - Head of Behavioural Science Research & Insight

Author:Dr Alexandra Dobra-Kiel - Head of Behavioural Science Research & Insight