On Aon Insights: Building Belonging in the Workplace

On Aon Insights: Building Belonging in the Workplace
July 24, 2023 9 mins

On Aon Insights: Building Belonging in the Workplace

On Aon Podcast: Measuring Wellbeing

Episode 4 highlights the critical role that a sense of belonging plays in individual health and wellbeing and how an increased focus on belonging benefits both workforce resilience and business performance.

Key Takeaways
  1. Research highlights the importance of a strong sense of belonging in the workplace.
  2. This episode discusses ways of overcoming the challenges of building belonging into the company culture.
  3. Inclusive recruiting and eliminating bias can be supported with AI assistance.

Sheena Singh:
Welcome to the On Aon Insights podcast, where we explore the hot topics surrounding the issues that matter to you. Today our world is more volatile than ever, overloaded by data and compounded by complexity and uncertainty. Important decisions are often being made without the right information, the right insight, and more importantly, the right advice. This is where we come in. From traditional areas like managing volatility, retirement, and health, to new challenges like environmental, social, and governance factors, technological and digital disruption, we'll bring together Aon thought leaders, industry subject matter experts and senior business professionals to give you the clarity and confidence to make better decisions. I'm Sheena Singh, senior vice president in our healthcare industry vertical, and this season we're exploring workforce resilience. Each episode features insights from Aon experts about the new world of work and the ways organizations can take action now to create an empowering work culture.

Companies today know helping employees feel and be their best helps the organization. Employees want and need to feel like they're a part of the team. Recruits are looking at a company's culture to see if they'll fit. Investors and clients are prioritizing companies that create inclusive culture. So companies are increasingly focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. There's one more lesser-known element that brings this all together: belonging. A sense of belonging allows people to feel connected. We asked Suzanne Courtney, a registered psychologist and associate partner in human capital solutions for EMEA at Aon, to explore this idea further.

Suzanne Courtney:
Belonging is all about the individual, that no matter who you are, your characteristics, your life stage, that you feel included, that you feel valued, that you feel like people are listening to you, that you are important. There's a lot of research to show that it's actually important. It's tied in really tightly into predicting physical and mental health outcomes. So if someone is experiencing a lack of belonging, and that can be through bad organizational behaviors like sexism or ostracization, there's a higher risk for those things.

Sheena Singh:
Increasingly, belonging is something employers must think about to prosper. In the European Union, for example, new regulations around pay transparency are designed to close the gender pay gap and create a more equitable workforce and society. With staffing challenges, a focus on belonging can also help companies with retaining current talent and recruiting new. The culture a company cultivates is critical. Suzanne talks about the challenges of building belonging into culture.

Suzanne Courtney:
It forces businesses to think about, how do you change the culture and the way of operating to really make progress and really hold them accountable? So I think we've all learned that over the last number of years. Actually we need to think about it more broadly than just a tick box exercise. So some of the discussions I'm having at the moment is, what's the three year plan that they would need to do? Where do they start? How do they know that they're going to be ready in time? And what are the key milestones along the way? And building this into part of their overall inclusive culture. It's not only regulation, but it should be embedded within the culture. And the culture is often the hardest thing to change in a business. So, they need time to implement it, and also look at any cultural obstacles or accelerators to make it as successful as possible.

Sheena Singh:
AI is another hot topic, and it's important to this discussion of belonging. Amid all the headlines about tools like ChatGPT, what may be lost is the benefit of human-centered AI, built in an inclusive way by a diverse workforce. This AI can help ensure culture is actually inclusive and builds belonging. It's also invaluable when it comes to recruitment. Suzanne explains.

Suzanne Courtney:
If AI is set up in the right way, it can eliminate bias. So we as people often have biases. We're wired that way. It's hard to separate ourselves from them. But actually, if we have what we call human-centered AI, that's there to actually promote diversity and has been trained in a way to be as fair and inclusive as possible. We've seen really good outcomes with things like AI when you're looking to measure or hire for things like potential, or when you're looking to, for example, diversify your candidate pool. There's lots of really good AI out there that can actually help us.

Sheena Singh:
So, where do you start? How can an organization work to better create a culture of belonging? Understanding a company's current strengths and areas to work on is a key first step. Committing to some actions and making those actions visible to the employees and the external world is another. But creating a complete strategy and plan, one that leaders are invested in, will be crucial for making longer lasting progress. Ultimately, remembering that belonging helps companies build workforce resilience will guide a company in the right direction. Suzanne ties the two together.

Suzanne Courtney:
If we know whether people are wired for belonging, actually it can help us build more resilience in the workplace, and it can help the business also understand what do they need to do to enable people to deal with situations and complexity and ambiguity better.

Sheena Singh:
So what have we learned over the last few minutes? Employees need to feel like they belong at their company. New regulations and the demands of the talent market mean companies need to prioritize belonging. Human-centered AI can help with belonging, cutting out natural human bias. Promoting a culture of belonging starts at the top and is a continuing process. And finally, belonging is a critical element of workforce resilience, and ultimately business performance. Thank you for joining us at On Aon Insights, and thanks to Aon's Suzanne Courtney for her expert take on the topic. We'll be back in two weeks with another episode exploring workforce resilience. Remember to check our show notes for recommended reading and places to learn more. And don't forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast. Until next time.

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The information contained herein and the statements expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information and use sources we consider reliable, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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