Moving from Employee Connectivity to Employee Belonging

If your company is experiencing challenges in recruitment and retention, you are not alone. Population contributors such as reduced immigration, lower birthrate, and aging Baby Boomers have been for years creating a long-term worker shortage. This national workforce shortage has been accelerated by the pandemic.

This article is adapted from a Chamber presentation by Dr. Bob Randall on 1/5/22. To view the full webinar, follow the link below.

Now more than ever, American workers are in the driver’s seat. A record-breaking 4.5 million people quit their jobs in the month of November. These employees are not all leaving the workforce but leaving their jobs. Employees are looking for workplace flexibility, to focus on their health, among others. How can your organization secure valuable employees to allow your operation to continue?


Employees are seeking true connection and belonging with their team, their coworkers, their boss. The pandemic has changed the landscape of the workforce and left workers feeling unsettled.  Nearly 70% hybrid employees feel disconnected from coworkers. 50% feel more overwhelmed since the pandemic. 54% feel disconnected and unengaged.

We’ve created safety protocols and adapted to Zoom. Now let’s think about how we create a sense of belonging for employees. Being connected online does not create a sense of belonging. Our staff are craving the office conversations, the water cooler chit-chat, the weekend recaps, the brainstorming sessions, the human connections that are generated in the office. In fact, engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave, and 20% more productive.

How do we build that sense of belonging with our employees?

Start with your front-line managers. Leaders account for up to 70% of employee engagement. Building a personal relationship with each employee should be part of the equation that will pay dividends to the organization.

Get to know your employee.

Spend time with each employee. Yes, each direct report. If you feel you don’t have time to do this, delegate other tasks to allow to prioritize connection.

Responding to their needs.

Holding them accountable.


Learn, listen, be vulnerable.

It starts with you. Here are some ideas to put workplace connection into action:

Staff check-ins, weekend recap, discuss goals short and long term.

Appreciation notes to all employees, share thanks.

(Over video chat) Nonverbal acting out various emotions. This can open up means of communication without exposing deep vulnerabilities.

Campfire dialogue. Turn off cameras, engages deeper thought and conversation in a safe space.

We used to think trees competed for natural resources – water, sunlight, nutrients. That assumption is wrong. Trees are deeply interactive; large trees will send sugar through their roots to help support smaller trees of the same species that might not be big enough to “compete for sustenance. According to the Smithsonian, trees are Communal – they form alliances and work together to ward off predators and other species. Roots are shared. Humans need this same connection and belonging, and it can start with your leadership.

Watch Webinar:

Professional Development Workshop – January 5, 2022
“Moving from Employee Connectivity to Employee Belonging”
Presented by Dr. Bob Randall, Assistant Professor of Management at the College of St. Scholastica Stender School of Business & Technology and Director of the MBA program Leadership and Change.

The Duluth Chamber is able to provide this offering free of charge to our members because of the generosity of sponsor – The College of St. Scholastica Stender School of Business and Technology.