Research & Thought Leadership

Sense of Not Belonging at Work

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The need to belong has long been established as a fundamental human need.

One that when thwarted has a significant, detrimental impact on how we think, feel and behave. Being the place where we spend a great deal of our time, work has become increasingly important in modern life, and now provides much of the social support that used to be gained from extended families and community. A sense of not belonging in the workplace is therefore likely to have significant implications for our well-being.

The objective of our research was to understand a sense of not belong – the experience of feeling that one does not belong at work – the situations that engender it, and the emotions, cognitions and behaviours involved, with the ultimate purpose of helping those enduring a sense of not belonging to resolve it, prevent others from experiencing it, and help leaders and organisations understand how better to support those going through it.

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