There is more to human existence than work; however, it is clear that if we’re are going to devote a third of our adult lives to our jobs, it is quite helpful to find them meaningful. The degree of meaning and purpose you derive from work may be the biggest difference between a job and a career, and psychological research has consistently shown that when employees feel that they belong to a team or organization — in the sense that it aligns with their values, and enables them to express important aspects of their identity — they will not only tend to perform better, but also experience higher levels of engagement and well-being. In contrast, a lack of belonging will increase the risk of alienation, burnout, and underperformance.
Given this evidence, organizations need to foster belonging in their employees, and modern managers need to act as agents of meaning and purpose if they wish to retain their employees. That is in fact much harder than attracting new talent. This feeling of belonging has become challenged over the past year plus as we’ve shifted away from in-person interactions and found ourselves relying on video calls and screen activities to stay connected. HR and senior executives have encountered new demands when it comes to creating and sustaining a sense of real community, and are realizing that new skill sets are needed.
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