July 7, 2023
Although two thirds of people feel a sense of belonging in the workplace, half also think they are unable to share their opinions freely at work, according to a a new poll of 4,500 individuals working for large organisations around the world and commissioned by facilities management firm ISS. While the poll found that 69 percent of workers do feel a sense of belonging at work, it also discovered that feelings of not belonging were linked to “decreased productivity, worsened mental health and an increased risk of employee turnover”.
The study – Belonging in the Workplace – was conducted by Opinium on behalf of ISS, this Spring. It is based on a public opinion survey of 4,500 people representing a cross-section of society who work in various industries below management level in larger organisations with more than 250 employees. Respondents were based across the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland.
The survey claims that while 69 percent of respondents ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that they have a sense of belonging at their workplace, half of them (51 percent) also cited feelings of not being able to share their opinions freely in the workplace at least some of the time over the last 12 months. Almost half (46 percent) of respondents also noted that they did not feel respected or treated fairly by colleagues or management at least some of the time.
In addition, 15 percent of people claimed that they frequently (‘most of’ or ‘all of the time’) were not able to share opinions freely in the workplace and 13 percent said they were not treated fairly or respected (13 percent). They also reported high levels of frequently not feeling aligned with the values of their organisations (14 percent).
Of those who have had these feelings, one-fourth (25 percent) linked this directly to worsened mental health (such as anxiety or depression) and/or worse personal well-being (25 percent). Other most frequent consequences were considerations of changing job/workplace (35 percent) and working less hard than one would normally do (29 percent).
The survey also suggests that the majority of respondents (78 percent) believe that creating a sense of belonging among employees is a priority for the employer. To enhance the sense of belonging even further, respondents suggest that employers should, among other things, provide more flexibility in terms of working hours and remote work, support more freedom of opinion, and provide more socialising opportunities.