While 69% of workers feel a sense of belonging at work, half report feeling unable to share opinions freely and being treated unfairly at the workplace

This research about ‘Belonging in the Workplace’ was conducted by Opinium on behalf of ISS A/S, a workplace experience and facilities management company, between 03/15/23 to 04/26/23. It is based on a public opinion survey of 4,500 people representing a cross-section of society who work in various industries below management level in larger organizations with more than 250 employees. Respondents were based across the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. No ISS employees participated in the survey.

According to a new public opinion survey, commissioned by ISS, these feelings are linked to decreased productivity, worsened mental health and an increased risk of employee turnover. The results confirm the importance of creating a safe and positive workplace culture that should be integrated into every workplace decision, process and solution, says Corinna Refsgaard, Global Head of People & Culture at ISS.


The survey of 4,500 workers in the five countries shows that while 69% of respondents ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that they have a sense of belonging at their workplace, half of them (51%) also cited feelings of not being able to share their opinions freely in the workplace at least some of the time over the last 12 months. Almost half (46%) of respondents also noted that they did not feel respected or treated fairly by colleagues or management at least some of the time.


In addition, people across the countries cited that they frequently (‘most of’ or ‘all of the time’) were not able to share opinions freely in the workplace

(15%) and were not treated fairly or respected (13%). They also reported high levels of frequently not feeling aligned with the values of the organization (14%).


Of those who have had these feelings, one-fourth (25%) linked this directly to a worsened mental health (such as anxiety or depression) and/or worse personal well-being (25%). Other most frequent consequences were considerations of changing job/workplace (35%) and working less hard than one would normally do (29%).


Encouragingly, the survey also found that the majority of respondents (78%) believe that creating a sense of belonging among employees is a priority for the employer. To enhance the sense of belonging even further, respondents suggest that employers should, among other things, provide more flexibility in terms of working hours and remote work, support more freedom of opinion, and provide more socializing opportunities.


Corinna Refsgaard, Global Head of People & Culture at ISS, said:

“The results confirm that creating a positive workplace culture where everybody feels safe is not a one-off activity. It requires constant consideration and should play a major role in every workplace decision, process and solution. While a majority of the people we have surveyed, express a sense of belonging, we also observe a high number who have had negative experiences at work - experiences directly linked to worsened mental health and lower productivity. Dealing with this is critical for both individuals and businesses. The good thing is that there is much more we can do to increase psychological safety and well-being in the workplace.”


Corinna added:

“There is no one-size fits all solution. However, it is important that actions are specific and measurable and - most importantly - embedded across the entire leadership team and organization. Our survey points to several actions that employers could consider. These include increasing flexible working conditions, promoting an open feedback culture, facilitating socializing opportunities, and thoughtful workplace design. Placing people at the core is crucial when aiming to create a sense of belonging and creating a strong company culture. And above all, it is paramount to maintain an ongoing and engaging dialogue on this topic, as fostering a sense of belonging is a dynamic and continuous process.”


For media inquiries
Charlotte Holm, Senior Global Media Relations Manager, +45 4176 1989


Belonging in the Workplace Survey

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