When you spend nearly a third of your life at work, a sense of belonging at the office can go a long way towards supporting your mental health.
According to a new study from professional services firm EY, more people get that sense of belonging from their jobs than any other source, outside of their own homes.
The survey, which looked at over 1,000 employed adults in the U.S., found that 34% feel the greatest sense of belonging at work. While this is behind the home (62%), it was significantly more than physical neighborhood (19%) and place of worship (17%).
Building that sense of belonging takes an active effort, with employees favoring certain factors more than managers might typically expect. 56% said they feel they belong most at work when they are trusted and respected, while only 36% said a sense of belonging stems from their unique contributions being valued.
39% said that when colleagues check in with them about how both their professional and personal lives are going, it gave them the greatest sense of belonging. This beat out such options as public recognition (23%), being invited to office events (20%), or being asked to join meetings with senior leaders (14%).
One of the more striking findings from the survey was the effect that social exclusion can have on the mental health of employees. Over 40% of respondents reported feeling physically alone, or ignored, as a result of social exclusion at the office.
“At a time when people tend to focus first on the differences between us before we can appreciate the similarities, finding belonging and feeling included is difficult,” says business and career consultant Avery Blank. “People are seeking community more than ever to seek solace and better understand the world they live in.”