Mum seldom comes to the footy (“I can’t read the stupid scoreboard!”) but when she does, her love of being a part of something is palpable. She feels connected and included.

Every weekend tens of thousands of Australians turn up to a sporting venue to be a part of something. A place where they’re not judged for wearing hats, beanies and scarves in colours they’d ordinarily avoid. A place where, without even having to talk to anyone, they feel deeply connected and grounded. They are proudly wearing and displaying their identity to differentiate themselves from the opposition.

One of our most basic, inherent needs is to feel like we belong to something. It might be a relationship, a place or an organisation. We need to believe that we share a sense of purpose and a common point of view with others. Abraham Maslow put this into perspective when in 1943 he published A Theory of Human Motivation and listed five sets of needs in ascending order from Physiological to Self-actualisation. Right in the middle at number sits The Love Needs which, he says include love, affection and belongingness needs. In typical 1940s language he says of a person: “He will hunger for…a place in his group and will strive to achieve it.”

I believe ‘belonging’ to be the most vital element of building a sense of community in your organisation. A 2018 study by Culture Amp revealed it to be “the one metric found to be consistently and universally linked to workforce commitment, motivation and pride”. It’s a fundamental human element on which to focus and will generate a powerfully disproportionate return on any effort you make to enhance it.

Just like the footy, it is not about winning or losing, it’s about belonging.    

Will Martin

Written by Will Martin