I’m Angie Cripps, and I work in Provar’s human resources department as a coordinator and recruiter. I have worked in HR for over 15 years, specializing in recruitment.  I love interacting with and helping people, and my daily duties involve making employee welfare and happiness a matter of professional responsibility.

I think it’s fair to say we all hope to fit in at work, especially as a new employee. We socialize even when we have other commitments, pretend to be interested in subjects we don’t care about, and use jargon or language we don’t usually use because we want to “belong.” It’s only human!

But what does “belonging” even mean? It’s about being accepted, listened to, understood, recognized, and trusted. It’s about being part of something bigger and all being in it together. It’s important to me to feel like my contribution matters. But even though nearly all of us believe it’s important to belong at work because it makes us happier, healthier, more motivated, and more productive, many of us don’t feel truly accepted. So, what’s preventing us from feeling like we belong? It can be due to office politics, a non-inclusive work culture, an unsupportive team, poor leadership, a lack of training, or some other reason. The good news is that companies can take charge of doing something about it by instituting carefully planned belonging initiatives.

At Provar, we have many initiatives, including a #belonging channel in Slack, the communication platform we use to connect and share company-wide news. In this channel, we run monthly themed sessions for our employees to raise awareness, share experiences, and connect. Tristan Lombard, Director of Community, launched this initiative, so I reached out to him to provide more information on its beginnings and the other belonging initiatives he is working on in conjunction with our HR team.

Angie: Why did you set up the #belonging channel?

Tristan: We know from organizational studies that 40% of people feel isolated and alone at work (HBR, 2019). The result is often lower with organizational engagement and productive collaborations with cross-functional global teammates. But you don’t have to be a former social worker and community builder to know that it makes sense for your business to create an internal community culture you want to belong to! Belonging is essential for your business and, more importantly, for the underrepresented and diverse-lived members of our global community.

Angie: Why should we focus on belonging?

Tristan: This is my third time working at a tech company and initiating a belonging community program. I have learned much from the people I’ve worked with about their sense of belonging. This is not only about the business. It’s also about doing the right thing while building community across your team. As noted in a recent research study by Deloitte, belonging can lead to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, a 167% increase in employer net promoter score, 2x more employee raises, 18x more employee promotions, and a 75% decrease in sick days. The numbers speak for themselves.

Angie: What does belonging look like in practice?

Tristan: Belonging in practice starts before a formal program. It’s a Slack channel you co-create with an internal leader struggling with her kids and wants to connect with other parents. It’s knowing that a remote employee loves New Age tunes and wants to motivate others through their day but doesn’t know how to start. It’s supporting your Black co-worker on a virtual coffee date who feels their white male leaders don’t hear or appreciate them. It’s partnering with HR leaders who get it and care (we are fortunate to partner with inclusive leaders like Lisa Lee, Director of HR at Provar, and the Provar Community).

Angie: Who is belonging for? 

Tristan: Belonging is for everyone, and while sometimes challenging conversations arise, we’re all better for them together.

Angie: What does belonging cover? 

Tristan: While it varies per organization, it starts with global testing and inclusive experimentation. For example, whenever I join an organization, the first thing I do as a community builder is see what Slack emojis are available in the org. Are there emojis in your org that connote appreciation, collaboration, and a little quirky culture? I then deploy those emojis and see who starts adopting them. Connect with your internal leaders who are part of continuous positive change. Reach out to them for a virtual coffee and see what they think is essential. As noted by a recent Pew Research Center resource, Gen Z is especially likely to express anxiety about the future, so a company could celebrate Earth Day by sharing how its employees are making the world greener. In past organizations, we have covered all topics from mental wellness (the most popularly engaged topic in all my past organizations) to social justice for our Black and Brown leaders.

Angie: What value does a belonging initiative add to the business? 

Tristan: As noted by Harvard Business Review, an organization that authentically (and not performatively) works to create a high sense of belonging was linked to “a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. For a 10,000-person company, this would result in more than $52M annual savings.”  It’s that simple. But most importantly, it’s about the people, your community, customers, and others. We want Provar to be a great workplace where people enjoy being and feel it’s where they want to be. When I look to a North Star for belonging initiatives, I always defer to Maya Angelou and her quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Angie: What are your future aspirations for Provar’s belonging initiatives?

Tristan: I am grateful to Lisa Lee, Angie Cripps, Neelam Sharma, and the rest of the Human Resources team at Provar, as well as the global leadership team, for supporting these initiatives. In addition to our monthly themes, we will continue finding ways to make a real and positive impact in our organization and the larger tech community. We will do this in a variety of ways, from championing initiatives like our wildly successful Provar Gives Back campaign, a month-long initiative of volunteerism in our Provar teammates’ local communities, to our continued support for Salesforce and software quality leaders from diverse backgrounds in our Provar Community Programs, to building an inclusive, curious, and compassionate community at Provar!

Angela Cripps, HR Coordinator and Recruiter at Provar contributed to this blog post. For more information on joining Provar’s ever-growing team, please visit our job openings board.