Belonging at Work: 8 Ways Mental Fitness Builds Community in the Workplace
Belonging is a fundamental human need that drives our desire to connect with others, form relationships, and become part of a group or community. Fostering a sense of belonging at work is critical to the success of individuals, teams, and organizations. Employees who feel a sense of belonging are more engaged, productive, and committed to their work and the organization.
One study, The Belonging Barometer by the Center for Inclusion and Belonging, found that participants who experienced lower stress in life reported a high level of workplace belonging, and those who experienced high stress felt more excluded at work.
What defines belonging at work?
Belonging in the workplace refers to feeling accepted, valued, and included as an integral part of a team or organization. It goes beyond being present; it’s about feeling that your colleagues and leaders respect and appreciate your contributions, perspectives, and identity.
A strong sense of belonging fosters a positive and supportive work environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves, sharing their ideas, and collaborating effectively. Belonging contributes to higher job satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall wellbeing, ultimately leading to improved productivity and a more cohesive and thriving workplace culture.
How can individuals, leaders, and organizations foster a culture of belonging? By building mental fitness.
What is mental fitness?
Mental fitness is your state of mental wellbeing — it represents your ability to make decisions, your awareness, and how you respond to life’s challenges. It involves developing core psychological resources and becoming aware of how you think, behave, and feel.
If you’re not physically fit, you’ll feel physical stress as you climb a steep hill. If you’re not mentally fit, you’ll feel mental stress, such as anxiety, frustration, or unhappiness, when faced with life’s challenges. Conversely, when you’re mentally fit, you lean into challenges and can navigate change and stress, no matter what day-to-day life presents.
Mental fitness training plays a pivotal role in fostering a culture of belonging at work
Mental fitness training as an organization can improve employees’ sense of belonging at work by creating an environment that values and supports emotional and mental wellbeing. When you feel understood and supported, you are more likely to engage with your colleagues, share ideas, collaborate effectively, and embrace diversity. This promotes open communication, empathy, and teamwork, which are essential components of a welcoming and inclusive work environment.
Mental fitness training can help you and your team develop critical skills that positively impact your performance, relationships, and wellbeing and foster a culture of belonging at work:
1. Build resilience
Mental fitness training builds resilience in the workplace by providing tools to help employees cope with challenges, setbacks, and stressors. When you’re mentally fit, you’re better at managing adversity, adapting to changes, and maintaining a positive outlook. This resilience helps you bounce back from setbacks, stay focused on goals, and continue performing at your best even in difficult circumstances. Ultimately, a mentally resilient workforce contributes to a more productive, cohesive, and thriving work environment.
2. Enhance emotional intelligence
Mental fitness training enhances emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace by improving employees’ self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal interactions. When you’re mentally fit, you’re more in tune with your emotions and can better recognize and manage them. Higher EQ helps you and your team respond to challenging situations more positively.
3. Cultivate a positive mindset
Mental fitness training cultivates a positive mindset in the workplace by building resilience, increasing focus, and improving emotional wellbeing. Mentally fit employees are better equipped to handle challenges, maintain an optimistic outlook, and collaborate effectively with colleagues. Mental fitness leads to reduced negativity, improved problem-solving, and a more supportive work environment.
4. Reduce self-sabotage
Mental fitness training helps reduce self-sabotage in the workplace by improving self-awareness and emotional regulation. When you’re mentally fit, you can better recognize negative thought patterns, manage stress, and make rational decisions. This awareness enables you to identify and replace self-sabotaging behaviors with constructive actions, improving focus, productivity, and overall performance.
5. Encourage self-care and wellbeing
Mental fitness training encourages self-care and wellbeing in the workplace by promoting healthy habits and strategies that prioritize mental and emotional health. Engaging in practices such as mindfulness, regular breaks, and setting boundaries helps you and your team manage stress, prevent burnout, and maintain a balanced work-life dynamic. When you prioritize your mental wellbeing, you’re more likely to have increased energy, better focus, and improved emotional resilience, positively impacting your overall performance, job satisfaction, and relationships.
6. Build trust and psychological safety
Mental fitness training builds trust and psychological safety in the workplace by fostering open communication, empathy, and mutual understanding among team members. You’re better at managing your emotions and responding to others with empathy and respect when you’re mentally fit. Mental fitness training helps to create an environment where colleagues feel comfortable sharing thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment.
7. Embrace diversity and inclusion
Mental fitness training can play a significant role in employees embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace by promoting open-mindedness, empathy, and a willingness to understand and appreciate different perspectives. When you’re mentally fit, you’re more likely to recognize and challenge your biases, which helps create a more inclusive environment. This, in turn, fosters a sense of belonging and respect for diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities.
8. Create a more supportive community
Mental fitness training helps create a more supportive community in the workplace by encouraging empathy, active listening, and mutual assistance among team members. When you prioritize your mental wellbeing, you’re more attuned to the needs of others and are better equipped to provide emotional support and encouragement. This leads to a culture where colleagues genuinely care about each other’s wellbeing.
Develop mental fitness for a healthier workplace culture
When your organization is mentally fit, you create an environment where people feel supported, valued, and encouraged to be authentic. As a result, individuals and teams become more adept at recognizing and managing emotions, making informed decisions, and building strong relationships, all of which contribute to enhanced emotional intelligence and a healthier workplace culture.
Learn more about how to strengthen the sense of belonging in your workplace with mental fitness training for teams.