September 16, 2019

BetterUp’s New, Industry-Leading Research Shows Companies That Fail at Belonging Lose Tens of Millions in Revenue

New scientific study quantifies the business case for investing in workplace belonging; cost of exclusion for companies

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — September 16, 2019 — Employees experience an increase in job performance, are less likely to leave their jobs, and take fewer sick days if they feel a strong sense of workplace belonging, indicates new research from BetterUp, a mobile coaching pioneer that drives transformational behavior change, resulting in positive business outcomes for organizations.

This novel research underscores that companies that fail at belonging lose tens of millions in productivity gains every year, and that workplace exclusion hurts performance. The research also shows that interventions can often prevent or alleviate feelings of exclusion, making a big difference to both the worker and the workplace.

BetterUp surveyed 1,789 full-time employees across a diverse set of industries. It also included live participant experiments to observe and measure tangible impacts of inclusion and to test interventions. Key findings include the following:

  • Belonging is good for business. Employees who feel a strong sense of belonging, versus a weak one, experience a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in sick days.
  • Lack of belonging is costly. If all workers at a 10,000-person company felt a high degree of belonging, productivity gains would top $52 million a year.
  • Belonging is the best recruiter. Employees who feel they belong are 167% more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work to others.
  • Exclusion hurts performance. A single incident of micro-exclusion can result in a 25% decline in an individual’s performance on a team project.
  • Coaching is an effective way to cultivate belonging in the workplace. Organizations can get ahead of issues with workplace belonging by coaching managers on everything from how to practice inclusive leadership, noticing when workplace exclusion is happening, understanding how to become allies, and gaining perspective on how it feels to be excluded.


“Taking steps to increase belonging has profound impacts, making workplaces more human and more productive,” says Alexi Robichaux, CEO of BetterUp. “Belonging is a basic human need that has not been given the attention it deserves in the workplace. Our research shows that when workplace exclusion exists, it has a detrimental impact to a company’s bottom line. Coaching managers to be aware of the impact of exclusion and to focus on the human needs of their team members enable both employees and employers to fully flourish.”

As part of this groundbreaking work, BetterUp tested new interventions to actually increase belonging in a team setting. BetterUp found that small actions can make a huge difference. Effective solutions include fostering equitable team behaviors, creating allies, and having employees gain perspective on how it feels to be excluded.

“Our research shows that belonging is a core component of the employee experience and thriving at work,” says Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, Chief Innovation Officer at BetterUp. “Up until now, there has been a lack of evidence-based tools used to create inclusive workplaces. Fueled by our latest research findings, we are proud to have established a number of novel, evidence-based interventions that our coaches are now incorporating into their sessions with members today.”

The latest research from BetterUp, which tripled its growth in both 2017 and 2018 and recently secured $103 million in growth financing, follows previous BetterUp studies on loneliness at work and the need for meaning and purpose, which were widely covered. You can read the entire Belonging report here.