How public sector employees work has changed dramatically in the past two years. But that’s not all. Many of them are re-examining their personal priorities. Accenture research has found that a third (31%) of government frontline workers1 feel they don’t belong in their workplace. Unless public service employers can persuade them that they do, there’s a risk that these employees may lose motivation, productivity or potentially even leave their organization altogether.
But the rewards for fostering a sense of ‘belonging’ at work are significant. Government leaders can unlock up to five-times more human potential. To explore how they can do this, we conducted research based on a cross-industry global study – Better to Belong – spanning more than 1,200 government workers and over 600 consumers of government services.
Making everyone feel recognized and valued
So, what does a true sense of belonging feel like? There’s a strong element of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). But there’s more. Belonging also means ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to have their voice heard, do interesting work and learn new skills.
And when workers feel a sense of belonging, their employers benefit too.
increase in job performance.
lower staff turnover.
reduction in sick days.
million in annual savings for a 10,000-person organization.
Realize similar benefits by focusing on two key areas:
Moments that matter - these include the big, decisive occasions during an individual’s career, spanning from the onboarding experience, to how the employer treats life events, to compensation and even exiting the organization.
Everyday experiences - these have a huge impact on employees’ sense of belonging, and they include issues related to people’s skills, organizational factors (eg governance) and individual factors such as growth mindset.
Belonging in practice
To bring belonging to life, employers need to focus on areas including empowerment, diversity and skills development.
Give employees greater autonomy in determining how they work, allowing them to have more control over their work products and outcomes.
For employees to thrive, organizations should tailor employee experiences to make them inclusive and celebrate diversity within the workforce.
Employers should enable people to upskill and reskill as demands change.
Government leaders can unlock up to 5X more human potential by making their people feel like they truly belong.
Looking to the future
Increasing a sense of belonging among employees is a ‘must do’ for public service organizations. The good news? There is no shortage of addressable opportunities to help achieve that goal.
Most countries have introduced legislation around diversity in their government workforces and there are clear commitments to creating workplace equality.
But as private sector companies are stepping up their commitments to DEI and generating a stronger sense of belonging at work, public service employers will need to improve in these areas to compete effectively for top talent.
There’s a huge opportunity to improve employees’ key career moments and day-to-day experiences. This can help instill a greater sense of belonging and create a future of work that’s more equitable. And when public service workers feel a sense of belonging, everybody benefits.
What does belonging look like for you in your workplace?
What could your organization do to foster a sense of belonging for you at work?
Do you feel empowered at work and does that affect your sense of belonging?
1 Note that frontline workers are defined as government workers who directly engage with and provide help to citizens/customers. Those that provide direct support to frontline workers were also included in this study.