The 6 Dimensions of Office Wellbeing: #4 Belonging

Women connecting over conversation share a sense of belonging that helps wellbeing at the office.

Last year, the U.S. workforce turnover rate was nearly 15.7%, up from 14.4% in 2011. Workforce turnover can carry a hefty cost. A report from CBS News calculated the additional cost of of replacing a mid-level employee at 20% of the worker's annual salary (and replacing executives could cost up to 213% of their salary). So how do you retain the talent you worked so hard to attract? As part of our series on office wellbeing, the article below from Steelcase addresses the fourth dimension of wellbeing, belonging. You'll learn how creating a sense of belonging for employees helps anchor them and makes them feel valued by their organization. We'll also share some tips and design considerations that helps cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace.


A meaningful life means feeling connected to other people. Social connections at work are sustaining, and feeling useful to others is a powerful way to generate positive emotions.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Psychologist Abraham Maslow positioned belonging at the third level of his famous hierarchy of universal human needs, preempted only by basic physiological needs (food, water, sleep, etc.) and safety/security needs. Numerous studies and experiments have led to the belief that humans are genetically wired to need one another, and Gallup data provides empirical evidence that having close friends and positive interactions at work significantly increases engagement with the organization.

Relationships anchor people’s commitment to an organization, its brand and its purpose. Without meaningful connections to people, organizations can seem anonymous. Because of this, mobility, alternative work strategies and telepresence across geographies must be intentionally crafted so that employees don’t lose their sense of belonging.

“Mobility can be positive because you’re giving people flexibility, and videoconferencing is fast becoming a fact of everyday work, especially for global teams. But it’s important to ensure that people have meaningful connections to others and understand that, wherever they are, they are valued in the organization. Employees need to know they are integral participants in something larger than themselves and others in the organization care about them,” says Beatriz Arantes, a Steelcase WorkSpace Futures researcher.

Cultivating belonging in the workplace

“As work becomes increasingly mobile and global, creating a sense of belonging is a bigger challenge than ever, but certainly not less important,” says Arantes. “Leading organizations make sure their workplaces provide reasons for people to choose to work there by making it easy to collaborate with co-workers and connect to technologies. They put effort into creating an equal sense of community and belonging for mobile and distributed employees, as well as those physically present.”


Mobile workers can easily connect with their peers and feel a sense of belonging. The bench supports a range of user needs, from focused work to collaboration to touch-down tasks.

Design Considerations:

  1. Create entrances that are welcoming with visible hosting for people who don’t work there routinely.
  2. Provide ample and well-equipped spaces for mobile and resident workers to work individually or in teams.
  3. Offer videoconferencing configurations that allow remote participants to see content in the room and on the walls, and to hear everyone equally.
  4. Design informal areas for socialization, in person as well as virtually


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