MANILA, Philippines – Even in the digital age, a company’s most valuable assets are their employees. Aside from being the cogs that keep the company moving, employees and their attitudes reflect and represent the company in the outside world. Therefore, it’s important for companies to aspire for a happy and engaged workforce.
The straightforward approach to achieving employee satisfaction is through a proper compensation package – good pay, good benefits. But while this is effective in the short run, it isn’t enough to cultivate a sense of loyalty or push motivation for high performance. An alternative approach, which is often overlooked, is to foster a sense of belonging in the work environment.
As social creatures, people need to feel like they belong – like they are an indispensable part of an organization that cares for their well-being. If they feel out of place, or feel like they cannot work well with their colleagues, they become demoralized, and this will eventually take a toll on their work.
A workplace that promotes a sense of belonging and connectedness, as opposed to one that encourages alienation, will have a happier, more productive, and more engaged workforce.
A sense of belonging
An employee who understands the importance of belonging is Shiela Ananayo. Sheila has dwarfism, which prompted her to lose confidence in her own abilities, even though she has a degree in Information Technology.
One day, she mustered the confidence to apply for a job in Sitel. Within that same day, she passed all assessments and interviews and got accepted for the job.
“I didn’t feel any discrimination here,” Sheila shared. “Starting from the very first day that I applied, they [Sitel recruiters] were very accommodating people there. They gave me equal treatment with other applicants. All the people I’ve worked with, all the people I’ve talked with, they didn’t make me feel any discrimination. I feel very welcome. That built my confidence.”
Seven years later since that day, Sheila remains an employee at Sitel, where she enjoys being in an environment that recognizes her for her skills above anything else.
Collaboration in the office
Research conducted by psychologists revealed that an environment that fosters a sense of belonging helps employees feel positive emotions such as happiness, calm, and satisfaction. These, in turn, improve individual performance and collaboration between employees.
When employees feel like they’re part of a team, they are more likely to encourage and support each other. This is something TJ Ferrer, the current Head of Employee Engagement Committee in Sitel, believes in. “For me, it’s the satisfaction of seeing people grow,” he says.
Having been with the company for over 10 years, rising through the ranks by encouraging collaboration as a coach, TJ recognizes the value of having a sense of belonging.
Employees realize their true potential when they feel a deep and strong connection with their colleagues. It helps them expend energy for each another and bounce off ideas in a positive way.
Connectedness with the company
Lastly, a sense of belonging fosters a sense of connection with the organization – a sense of kinship, shared values, and mission. It’s this connection that allows employees to feel like the workplace is a safe and special space where they are empowered to do anything – even commit mistakes.
This is similar to Ryan Garingarao’s experience.
Ryan is someone who is no stranger to hard work. Growing up, he worked long, endless hours assisting his parents at the wet market. There, he learned how to handle both money and people.
However, when he started working as an adult, he had trouble sticking to one company. At the age of 25, he had already worked for 5 different call centers. That was until he found Sitel.
It was at Sitel where Ryan was really able to ground himself. It was an environment where he was finally able to feel safe about failure, and therefore allow himself to grow. “In most cases, when you fail, you realize that you learn something new from that experience and you become better after you figure out how to get out of failure,” he said.
Eleven years after joining Sitel as an agent, Ryan is now the Director of Operations for one of Sitel’s financial accounts.
“You’re coming to work because you enjoy the people around you,” he says. “That’s what Sitel has done for me. They were here to lift me up when I was falling. And when you’re succeeding, they’re here to actually encourage you to become a bigger person.”
These stories are just anecdotes of the impact a positive environment can have on both the company and its employees. A happy and engaged set of workers can drive a company's success. In turn, a successful company is better poised to bring out the growth and potential of its employees. – Rappler.com