Belonging and our values in the workplace

Sometimes, when we search for an ideal workplace we don’t know what we want until we’ve experienced what we don’t want. That experience can be so powerful in enabling us to really understand what kind of team and business we want to be a part of and most of all what kind of leader we want to work for. Belonging is such a key component when we spend the majority of our week in work whether that be in an office or from your own space at home. It’s that feeling that you are part of something. Jobs are not all one size fits all, we’re human beings, we’re complex with different wants, values and needs.

It was at a team off site that the word Belonging came up and totally resonated with me. We were a newly formed team and my boss at the time said she wanted a role that made her feel she belonged. I thought wow, when you break that down, that’s what I want too. I hadn’t thought of it like that before but that one word summed it up for me. I wanted a workplace that I didn’t just show up at everyday at but one I was included in and I was valued. At a later point I listened to a talk about Maslows’ Hierarchy of Needs and the reference to the Psychological Needs and how that sense of belonging to a tribe was still within in us as it was back in our prehistoric days; if you didn’t belong to a tribe you didn’t have your basic needs of food water and safety etc. That need to belong is still within us. Although we have evolved our brains revert back to that fight or flight response.

Similarly, I attended a Self-Care for Working Parents webinar recently with Dr. Malie Coyne through Work Well Ireland. In that webinar Dr. Malie summed up the belonging  topic by stating that our desire to belong is linked to our desire to survive.  “We are designed for survival, not happiness”.

She also spoke about the importance of “filling your cup”. Basically looking after yourself first so you can look after others. She spoke about how important it is to understand what your values are. If you understand your values, decide what your top 3 or 5 are and are able to apply them everyday then the drain is not so big on you. For example if creativity is a value of yours then look at how often you get to apply that in your day to day life. Does your job allow you to be creative? It reminded me how important it is for our values to be aligned with our work because as I said that’s where the majority of our time is spent. If I’m in a micromanaged, controlled environment, what effect is that going to have on my wellbeing, if creativity is one of my top values. I need a role that I can be trusted and given the permission to be creative, possibly make mistakes, learn and keep going. It’s also that place where you can bring your whole self to work. If you’re not belonging you’re existing and that won’t allow you to keep your cup full!

If you have any thoughts or things to add to this conversation I’d love to hear them! Similarly, If you feel your current role isn’t aligning with your values and you’re keen to find out what’s out there please feel free to get in touch!