- 75% of respondents have felt excluded at work; checking in with colleagues remains paramount
- For organizations that enable flexibility, respondents feel a boosted sense of belonging within the workplace
- 63% of respondents across generations currently prioritize Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness (DE&I) in choosing a company over one that does not, and it’s of even greater importance to Gen Z and millennial talent
The EY organization today announces the results of the third iteration of the ‘Belonging Barometer’, revealing the perspectives of employed adults from various industries and organizations across the globe. In a post-COVID-19 world of evolving workplace flexibility styles and ongoing heightened economic uncertainty, adaptation to workforce shifts and continuing headwinds, a belonging disconnect is emerging in the workplace.
According to the EY Belonging Barometer 3.0, almost half (41%) of respondent workers at companies across the globe say that their workplace is where they feel the greatest sense of belonging, second to home, and yet, 75% report having felt excluded at work. It also finds that despite a backdrop of overall positive feelings of belonging within workplaces, over half of global worker respondents (56%) feel that they can’t share, or are reluctant to share, dimensions of their identity while at work for fear of it holding them back. This number is even higher for LGBTQ+ worker respondents, with 77% feeling uncomfortable sharing dimensions of their identity at work.
To effectively combat workplace feelings of exclusion, checking in on how someone is doing, both at work and in their personal life, remains a top contributor to building a sense of belonging for 32% of respondent workers. This holds true for 39% of US respondents, consistent with the previous 2018 (38%) and 2020 (37%) Belonging Barometers.
Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Vice Chair – Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness, says:
“While it's encouraging that workers continue to feel an increased sense of belonging at work, it's clear that a disconnect has emerged with many workers globally, of all diversity dimensions, feeling excluded, actively self-editing or hiding certain dimensions of who they are at work.”
“For leaders looking to bridge this gap to maximize engagement, wellbeing and productivity, and better enable their employees to feel free to be themselves, one-on-one check ins still matter most.”
Enabling flexibility increases workers’ sense of belonging
Although today’s work environment has posed many challenges, it is clear that greater flexibility has contributed to workers’ sense of belonging. In fact, of workers who have noted an impact on their sense of belonging from hybrid work, ongoing disruption, or economic volatility, the top two responses show that they feel an increased sense of belonging because their organization has become more flexible, and because they have been encouraged to be open about their opinions, needs, preferences, and personality.
Furthermore, 45% of respondents shared that flexible working, including autonomy in choosing hours and location, was their top motivator for instilling DE&I within their own teams. This underscores the importance for those in leadership positions to continue to integrate and offer flexible practices in today’s workplace.
Equitable pay may be the fastest route to addressing inequity; confidence in upward mobility may be wavering
An overwhelming majority of respondents acknowledge some level of inequity within their workplace; merely 6% say they have felt none. Equitable pay is cited by 40% as the top contributor to a sense of equity at work, followed by equitable performance evaluation (34%) and equitable work assignments (30%).
Workers also do not feel fully confident that their companies afford opportunities for career progression. Sixty-six percent of workers feel that there are barriers to advancement within their company, with a lack of the right resources (24%) reported as the most common obstacle, followed by lack of fair wage/salary (23%) and unequal access to opportunities (21%).
The future talent pool depends on companies prioritizing DE&I
DE&I initiatives continue to play a pivotal role in recruiting and attracting top talent. 63% of worker respondents would choose a company that prioritizes DE&I over one that does not, 74% say their company’s prioritization of DE&I factors into their choice of where to work.
This theme is most pronounced among Gen Z and millennials, of whom 73% and 68% respectively, said they would choose a company that prioritizes DE&I over one that does not, versus 53% of Gen X and 46% of baby boomers.
“Amidst today’s political and economic backdrop, DE&I remains a key workplace expectation across all generations and a competitive advantage, and at the same time, DE&I remains imperative for companies like ours to consistently build into their long-term growth strategy.”
The EY study includes a combined sample size of more than 5,000 globally employed adults (18–64 years of age) in the following countries: US, UK, Germany, Singapore and India. The survey was conducted in May 2023. Generations are generally defined as: Gen Z (age 18–26), Millennials (age 27–42), Gen X (age 43–58) and baby boomers (age 59–64). The study was conducted and analyzed by Big Village (formerly ENGINE), a consultative research collaborator, along with Prosek Partners.
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