When we’re looking for a new on-site or remote job, we evaluate the companies we’re interested in and review their values, mission statements, and so forth. As individuals, we’re increasingly aware that our voice matters in a workforce that can potentially impact various causes, including climate change, for example, and equality in the workplace.
Whatever purpose is meaningful to you, you may learn that, to truly appreciate your new career, the company must also share this purpose—and is willing to contribute to communities in making a difference.
This value alignment can be referred to as belongingness. In feeling a sense of belonging, we believe we form part of an organisation that means more than conducting various daily tasks. Our diverse jobs in Malta or elsewhere and their respective goals combine with those of other employees and, together, contribute to a greater goal that stems beyond business needs and development.
Feeling like we belong in the workplace means it’s inclusive of our opinions, organises initiatives to co-create with teams, and unlocks new opportunities where we can build and develop ourselves not just in the office—but also in society.
For business longevity, it’s no secret that the work we do must form part of who we are. It keeps us engaged and motivated to continue our on-site or remote jobs. This article is joined by Fatma Ibrahimi (Human Capital Consultant), nicknamed Ama, who shares how employers can make sure that every employee feels seen, connected, supported, and empowered to participate fully in what they do. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
About belonging at work
“For me, belonging at work means a sense of ease, connection, and purpose,” Ama began our conversation, eager to define such an important topic facing the workplace today.
“A sense of belonging makes me feel comfortable in being myself, where I can easily share my thoughts with my team,” she explained. Ama works in the Labs team, who scales certified software teams around the globe. She works fully remote, meaning belongingness is essential for her to feel close to her peers.
A sense of comfort for Ama allows her to speak of topics that are more personal, and share insights that are outside work responsibilities, in order to meaningfully connect with her team. “In a remote environment like ours, to feel included is very important,” she reiterated.
An inclusive workspace
It’s no secret that organisations around the world are championing critical values like diversity and inclusion in their workspaces. Creating a workplace climate that encourages voices to be heard and innovate is essential to progress in inclusivity. “I believe that the first step to support diversity and inclusion is to talk directly to the workforce,” Ama explained, “to get insight and find out what people from diverse backgrounds are experiencing in the workplace.”
There’s more to diversity and inclusion than maintaining open communication channels among teams and their respective on-site or remote jobs. Ama discussed that organisations need to support constructive feedback and criticism, and be accountable for various workplace challenges as these arise.
“We aren’t right every time,” she poignantly put, emphasising the value in being resilient in the force of change. In this way, Ama added, “we can understand how our human resources work together from different contexts, making it easier to tailor inclusion strategies.” By including others to our daily conversations and workplace discussions, we can create a workspace that is truly supportive and accommodates to everyone’s needs.
Co-creation in teams
Another significant aspect to belongingness in the workplace is supporting cross-collaboration and co-creation within internal teams. Where everyone has an equal seat to the table of discussions that can ultimately lead to better products or services.
“Every person in a company is someone with different skill sets, ideas, and feelings,” Ama began holistically, “When we feel engaged and respected by the company and other team members, we will want to contribute more to the company’s success.” She emphasised that employers should welcome their employees in meetings, and “create an environment where ideas flow freely between members of different teams.”
Continuing the conversation, Ama added: “In meetings, it’s important that employees feel equally valued and that everyone feels that there is space to create their own career in the workplace.” In other words, allow employees equal access to opportunities that facilitate their career growth and development. Practically, this can mean investing in training measures, for example, that help employees keep up with today’s workforce demands.
Unlocking opportunities for belonging
A vital component to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, values that contribute to belonging, is ensuring employees feel seen and connected. This is especially critical when employees have concerns they’d like to raise with their superior or a trusted colleague.
“I would encourage employees to speak out about their experiences in the workplace,” Ama stated, “it’s also important to have policies that are clear on how employees can make a confidential complaint, or if they’re experiencing or witnessed discrimination at work.”
Ama’s statement is twofold: employees can share their experiences given a safe workplace environment, and leaders must take it upon themselves to have policies in place that protects employees from issues like discrimination.
Whilst some employees are confident to speak up of their experiences, others are hesitant in fear of job security, among other factors. To truly unlock opportunities for belonging at work, employers must provide structural changes to the workplace that protects their employees and ensures they feel safe to confide in dedicated personnel and take necessary action.
Building belonging in the workplace, including the variety of jobs in Malta or elsewhere, is not a quick solution to developing diversity and inclusion practices. It requires a redress in understanding organisational values and belief systems that welcomes the perspectives of diverse communities.
The above can mean employing individuals from various countries and those from marginalised groups that were in the past neglected to join the workforce, for example. More importantly, it provides a hospitable space for communities to participate and thrive fully in contributing to their jobs—ultimately shaping the way we work for the better.