We Change Together or Not At All

Messages about change must be designed to draw people together, whether it’s to launch a new marketing strategy or build a mountain of jack-o’-lanterns. If we are not working together, we are not working at our best.

Diversity work is all about navigating change. Setting race aside, the objective is to get everyone moving in the same direction. Therefore, I was captivated by this 2019 study on the topic of belonging: the experience of being accepted and included by those around you.

Conducted by BetterUp, the study included a survey of employees plus controlled experiments. The study notes that even with inclusive hiring strategies, Persons of Color will not remain if the organization culture does not actively work to make people feel at home.

Check out these stunning statistics:

  • More education is associated with less belonging – Yes, you read that right. Training programs don’t work.
  • Employees who feel a strong sense of belonging are 50% less likely to leave and exhibit a 56% increase in performance and a 75% decrease in employee sick days.
  • When employees feel like they belong, they are 167% more likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work.
  • When individuals are excluded, they are less willing to work on behalf of the team who excluded them, even if the individual’s reduced productivity hurts their own financial interests.
  • A single exclusion incident can lead to an immediate 25% decline in an individual’s performance.
  • In a 10,000-person company, if all workers feel a high degree of belonging, an annual gain of over $52,000,000 in productivity is estimated.
  • Of three solutions tested, inviting participants to consider new rules of conduct that would make circumstances fairer was most effective in increasing a sense of belonging.

It’s not too late. One of the interesting details was that during simulations, those who were excluded and then given the opportunity to apply a strategy to re-balance participation “displayed the same, or greater, team-oriented behavior than participants who had been included by their team all along.”

Mistakes happen. Making amends can have an even more positive impact than if there were no mistakes at all.

This has huge implications for driving change. Setting the standard for inclusive language and behaviors and providing employees with the ability to influence decisions are powerful motivators for both adaptation and higher levels of performance.

Who are your underdogs? Be an ally.

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