The Power of Belonging: Companies as Communities

In the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment, we often find ourselves chasing after various factors such as wealth, social status, or even our innate intelligence. However, recent insights from an 80-year Harvard study of health and aging have unveiled a profound truth: the key to a happy and healthy life lies in our close relationships, particularly those with family, friends, colleagues, and our broader community. These connections not only sustain our happiness but also act as potent shields against mental and physical decline. Surprisingly, they even outshine social class, IQ, and genetics as predictors of our well-being.

Additionally, the U.N. World Happiness Report has offered another eye-opening revelation. While many believe that financial compensation is the primary driver of workplace happiness, it turns out that our sense of belonging at work significantly outweighs monetary considerations.

Recognizing the profound significance of social connections and belonging for our well-being, it is imperative that we take stock of our condition following over a year of social isolation, fear, uncertainty, and social tension driven by the pandemic. As business leaders, it becomes our responsibility to delve into this crucial facet of human existence.

Why is this essential? Two compelling reasons emerge. Firstly, it’s a moral imperative that we demonstrate care and concern for the communities in which we operate. Secondly, our business prosperity is intricately linked to the well-being of both ourselves and our team members.

The State of Belonging in America

Nationally representative research conducted by Enso in collaboration with Quadrant Strategies for Indeed reveals a thought-provoking disparity. While 60% of Americans strongly agree that they feel a sense of belonging in America as a whole, only 35% strongly agree with the same sentiment when it comes to their immediate communities. This discrepancy between a sense of belonging in the broader nation and within local communities highlights a fundamental issue.

It suggests that while people may feel aligned with the overarching ideas and ideals of America, their day-to-day lived experiences within their immediate communities fall short of their expectations. Echoing the findings of the Harvard study, this lower sense of community belonging can lead to reduced happiness, compromised health, and shorter lifespans.

Companies as Communities

Companies, often overlooked as communities, are, in fact, the communities where most adults spend the majority of their waking hours. Recognizing the significance of belonging within the workplace is pivotal for our collective well-being.

So, what can companies do to foster a stronger sense of belonging among their employees? To create an intentional sense of community belonging, three essential anchors should be firmly in place:

  1. Core Purpose Beyond Profit

A purpose that transcends profit provides every team member with a profound sense of meaning. This connection to a shared mission establishes a strong anchor of belonging within the organization.

  1. Values-Infused Systems

It’s not enough for organizations to have core values; they must infuse these values into every facet of their operations. Clear integration of these values into communications, products, services, marketing, sales, talent development, technology, and finances establishes a code of honor among team members, creating another essential anchor of belonging.

  1. Rituals of Belonging

Belonging grows in everyday moments. To make sure each team member consistently feels connected and a sense of belonging, rituals are essential. These can encompass daily huddles, weekly dashboards, and monthly town halls that go beyond typical progress reports and perfunctory data reviews. These rituals provide the perfect opportunity to acknowledge individual contributions, celebrate progress on values-infused metrics, and accomplish collaboration goals together. Furthermore, belonging can be strengthened through established, intentional rituals like team lunches, company service days, annual team Thanksgivings, and special birthday traditions that ensure every team member feels genuinely valued and cherished.

Embrace the Force for Good System

The Force for Good System was carefully crafted to support community and belonging. When you preorder the Force for Good Book, you’ll get instant access to valuable tools, including the Core Purpose Builder for uncovering your company’s deeper mission, a step-by-step tool for creating Values-Infused Systems and Metrics, the Seven Rituals Handbook that encourages innovation and a sense of belonging in your day-to-day operations, along with more than 50 other practical tools and resources you can start using right away to enhance your company’s purpose, influence, and sense of belonging.

Organizations Must Cultivate Belonging

Belonging is not just a social luxury; it is an essential component of our well-being. It impacts our happiness, health, and workplace satisfaction. Organizations must recognize their role as communities and prioritize the cultivation of belonging. By embracing a core purpose, infusing values into their systems, and fostering rituals of belonging, companies can significantly contribute to the overall well-being of their employees and, consequently, to society as a whole.


Since 1998, Coco has been on a mission to align business purpose with profit. As a serial entrepreneur and a consultant to founders, Coco has built five companies and supported hundreds of businesses. She is the Founder of Allume Home Care, Co-Owner and board member of All Pointe HomeCare, and creator of A Force for Good. Coco currently serves as the Chair of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for WorldWide Orphans, Trustee of the Oliver Wolcott Library, and on the Campaign Committee of Kimball Union Academy.