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5 Ways to Foster Belonging as You Reopen

by Benevity, Inc
May 28, 2020

As you begin the challenging process of opening up your offices, stores and facilities, or bringing your people back from furlough, it will be critical to foster belonging, inclusion and cultural safety. There’s a strong correlation between a sense of belonging at work, and commitment and motivation.

Your employees may be feeling some stress and anxiety, so their wellbeing is likely your top priority as you work to ensure both your people and your business thrive.

The good news is that you already have the tools you need to create a sense of belonging. When you champion purpose-filled initiatives, you’re helping your people build unity, connection and empathy as they cope with the challenges that come with reopening.

Here are five ways to make it happen:

1. Allow (and encourage!) employees to create their own initiatives

Your people are hungry to be part of the solution to COVID-19 and all the challenges presented by returning to work. They’re also aware that the needs of each office or region aren’t the same (and will continue to differ if new outbreaks result in multiple rounds of closing and re-entry). 

You can help them showcase their passions and meet local needs by enabling them to create their own giving and virtual volunteering opportunities to share with their peers.

This will help your people build empathy for what different communities are experiencing and rally their coworkers to join in. The more you empower (and celebrate) these grassroots efforts, the more people will feel a sense of ownership, inclusion and belonging!

2. Communicate often — and tailor your communications to specific groups and regions

People are looking for trusted information and connection as they go through this transition. By providing regular updates during the recovery, you’ll ease anxiety and be a trusted source of information during a stressful time.

Benevity’s platform helps you stay connected with every employee, no matter where they are in the world, and empower them to make a difference. You can publish timely business updates, company news, positive action prompts and inspiring stories that are specific to different groups and regions, all from within the same platform.

With Benevity’s mobile app, your people can not only stay connected to these updates, but they can also browse giving and volunteer opportunities, and take immediate action on timely issues to support the causes they care about.  

3. Expand your corporate purpose program to include small, positive actions that require little time or money

Easy-to-complete activities can be as simple as practicing self-care to rest and recharge, viewing tips for communicating with sensitivity after working apart for so long or taking five minutes to read new office procedures.

These kinds of activities promote empathy, self-awareness, caring for others and even long-term behavioral change, while highlighting the need-to-know information during the reopening stage.

Benevity’s Missions module has new ready-to-publish content libraries on a variety of topics, including new ones dedicated to adapting to the new normal, staying safe, and diversity and inclusion through belonging.  

The activities empower your people to create a workplace culture where everyone feels like they belong. You can modify the libraries to fit your unique business circumstances.

SAP is using Benevity’s COVID-19 Missions library to provide their people with activities like spreading positivity, discussing COVID-19 with kids or learning a new skill.
TC Energy wanted to offer their employees more ways to do good, so they launched Benevity’s Missions module in 2018 to encourage small, positive actions on timely issues. One of the best results was remote employees participating in their program for the first time. 

4. Open up your program to foster deeper connections with your people

A powerful way to build a foundation for belonging is to provide employees with the option to support causes that matter to them on a personal level. Right now, employees are thinking about their local communities and how they can help them recover.

By offering broad giving choice (and matching, if you can!), your employees will feel supported and valued, and more nonprofits (large and small) who need funding are more likely to get it.

Also consider encouraging non-traditional volunteering opportunities, like small acts of Goodness or virtual volunteering, and be flexible so that your people can track their time without an associated cause.

Benevity client Liberty Mutual created a program called Liberty Torchbearers Calling. They encourage and reward employees to take time out of their workday to call loved ones in isolation, like seniors in long-term care facilities, to let them know they care.
Genentech quickly pivoted their annual give back campaign to respond to COVID-19 by giving all of their people (including contractors) $20 in donation currency to give to the cause of their choice. The company also enabled VolunteerMatch to help provide their people with virtual volunteer opportunities while in-person team volunteering opportunities are on hold. To communicate these significant changes and energize their people, they enabled Missions and are rewarding users who complete activities focused on small COVID-19 actions.

5. Remember important awareness dates (like Pride) amid the chaos of reopening

We’ve all been in crisis mode for several months now, but we can’t forget important awareness dates that hold special meaning for people throughout the year. Highlighting Pride Month, World Refugee Day, Veteran’s Day, World Mental Health Day and others is a great way to renew a sense of belonging among your team members. (Download the Benevity Goodness Calendar for a list of awareness dates and check out our on-demand Pride webinar for campaign ideas).

It not only helps your people feel seen and heard by your company, but also by each other. You can use these occasions to offer learning opportunities for your entire team and create initiatives that allow people to take action and support causes related to these awareness dates.

Ready to see how Benevity can help you rebuild a culture of belonging as your company reopens and returns to work? Book a demo to see how it works.