Sense of Belonging

About the metric

Belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group. It is when an individual can bring their authentic self to work. When employees feel like they don’t belong at work, their performance and their personal lives suffer. Creating genuine feelings of belonging for all is a critical factor in improving engagement and performance. It also helps support business goals.

Why belonging matters at Cornell University?

At Cornell University, the sense of belonging for faculty and staff has a major impact on performance and retention. People who say they have a sense of belonging feel connected to their work and to Cornell University.  When a person can bring their authentic self to work, they are more engaged and able to contribute. Employee engagement represents the levels of enthusiasm and connection individuals have with their organization. It measures how motivated people are to put in extra effort, and also a sign of how committed they are to staying. A feeling of belonging at work is strongly correlated to high levels of engagement. An increased sense of belonging leads to collaboration, problem solving, and better decision making.  It’s only when people feel a sense of belonging that they can share ideas, confidently speak up, and fully contribute to Cornell University’s success. A sense of belonging is what unlocks the power and value of diversity.

Actions and initiatives

  • Create intentional connections. Bringing people together can provide an environment where people feel they belong. Think about how teams are structured; how groups can be brought together to solve specific problems; and how offices are designed.
  • Help build trusting relationships. Think about having a formal or informal mentor program.
  • Invite opinions and perspectives into the conversation. Ask for input and ideas from all members; be clear about how decisions will be made.
  • Engage in purposeful storytelling. Encourage employees to share their individual stories. Understanding aspects of another person’s story can dissolve interpersonal barriers and help show the many layers, dimensions and experiences about a person we otherwise would not know. It helps people be seen.

Resources and Readings