The Line - Self Leadership - Development

Do I belong here?
The #1 Reason Employees Leave or Stay

Community, belonging and fulfillment in the modern workplace

by Kari Bergman | October 2023

A couple of months ago, I found myself shoulder to shoulder with a group of people interested in the latest insights for creating great workplace cultures. When I registered for the event, I was hoping to make a few connections and grab some fresh data points to bring into our work. The buzz in the room, the deep engagement of my fellow listeners and the full body vibration of deep resonance took me by surprise.

Okay, part of my swoon could have had to do with the really cool atmosphere of Steelcase headquarters, the walk through their botanical-garden-esque landscape on the way in or the hug from one of our favorite clients – Kevin Johnson. As Gary Berkstrand shared the latest insights from O.C. Tanner’s workplace trends, he identified the interrelationship of connection, community and belonging and it called forth many of the reasons I fell in love with the world of coaching and leadership development in the first place.

I had not heard of O.C. Tanner until I was invited by a friend. If they are new to you as well, let’s do a quick intro. The O.C. Tanner Institute provides research and education on corporate culture, employee experience, and recognition in order to empower organizations around the world to intentionally create healthy, productive workplace cultures.

“Regardless of their place on the org chart, people have begun to seek more opportunities to connect with each other, and they are looking to their employers for help.” 

2023 Global Culture Report

Workplace Trends Report from OC Tanner


The data is rich and expansive, I recommend you check out the full 2023 Global Culture Report. For the sake of time, I’ll share one one key theme: workplace community.

As we tend to the continuing impacts of a global pandemic, people are feeling more disconnected than ever and even highly engaged people are leaving. The data from O.C. Tanner points to a triskele-like relationship between connection, belonging and fulfillment with a strong workplace community sitting at its center.

Strong workplace community → Belonging → Fulfillment


When employees experience a strong workplace community, there is an 8x increase in the odds that employees feel like they belong. Belonging leads to a 43% increase in retention and leads to a sense of fulfillment at the individual level. Fulfillment – a feeling of contentment or completeness that comes from the accomplishment of our most important goals or the attainment of our highest personal aspirations – is the #1 reason people leave a company or choose to stay. It has actually outpaced engagement in recent years.

As all of these data points intersected in that beautiful room inside Steelcase headquarters, I was leaning in so hard I almost fell out of my chair.

Have you ever had a moment where it feels like all of the seemingly disconnected moments and components of your life are syncing up in alignment? That was this for me.

This research highlighted key values and elements that feel like they are woven into my marrow, belonging, connection, community and fulfillment – these sometimes vague and elusive words now point directly to the experience humans have inside of their workplaces. They matter and the data is clear. If you want to increase employee retention, focus on a strong workplace community.

Community can be built through potlucks and happy hours. At its best, it is enriched and strengthened through intentional connection over time. If you are looking for a place to start building a stronger community within your workplace, we’ve got you. This is our literal jam.

4 Steps to Increasing Belonging at Work 

      1. Acknowledge your people early and often. We have two great resources for this: How to Give & Receive Better Feedback and What’s Right With People
      2. Focus on strengths. Use CliftonStrengths to illuminate the unique talent within your team and develop a common language for connection and understanding. We all want to be known.
      3. Be Consistent. Create consistent rhythms and rituals at the individual and team level. Start with rocking the check-in.
      4. Group Coaching. Bring our group coaching experience to affinity groups in your company. More on this below 🙂

Coaching Increases Belonging

Coaching is a catalyst for the discovery of fulfillment and purpose and at the group level inside of organizations, it is one of the most powerful containers for human connection and transformation. With the ability to fast-track growth and create systems of accountability while increasing belonging and fulfillment, it is the closest you will come to magic in the modern workplace.

At a recent review of our offerings, we doubled down on the need for both individual and group coaching because of its incredible ability to strengthen connections and support a felt sense of community and belonging inside of organizations. If you are catching the buzz and ready to support connection, community and belonging for your people, let’s get to work.


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