Unlocking Engagement With Belonging: How GE Saw Results In 6 Months


November 28, 2023

Why Belonging at GE Digital: The Importance of Belonging

Boosting employee engagement is a multifaceted challenge, and at GE Digital, Chief Diversity Officer Kristen Sanderson has taken a proactive approach to transforming how the company measures and enhances belonging. Her innovative strategy goes a step beyond conventional annual surveys, focusing on personalized, scalable, and measurable ways to reach all employees effectively and improved GE Digital’s Belonging score by 5 points within months.

Belonging is a core metric GE Digital measures, due to its far-reaching impact on performance, employee experience, and active engagement within the organization. As the primary owner of this KPI, Kristen’s approach aligns with extensive research findings which highlight the importance of belonging as a key driver of employee engagement. 

With a workforce of 4,000 employees, GE Digital operates globally, undergoing significant changes as the organization evolves into specialized business organizations. These organizational transformations can pose challenges to employees’ sense of belonging and engagement, making it imperative for companies to adapt to new strategies that address these changes effectively.

In light of the dynamic environment and a distributed workforce, Kristen recognizes that fostering connection is pivotal to enhancing belonging and creating a productive work culture that enables success and growth mindsets. 

Transforming Employee Engagement: Why Belonging Matters

Belonging plays a critical role in influencing employee experience and engagement. Research underscores the direct link between a strong sense of belonging and high engagement, with significant effects on performance and well-being. “Belonging at work: the top driver of employee engagement” discusses the societal and workplace significance of belonging, emphasizing that employees who feel like they belong are more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their work:

  • According to research, 91% of employees who feel that they belong are engaged, while those employees who report a lack of belonging are only engaged at 20%. 
  • Employees with a high sense of belonging experience a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.
  • Accomplishing high belonging for a 10,000-person company, this would result in annual savings of more than $52M. 

Personalized Connection Is Key 

Building belonging across a diverse and distributed workforce isn’t one-size-fits-all. Kristen identified factors that contribute to effective belonging initiatives, including:

  • Connection across seniority levels:
    • Creating opportunities for all employees to build meaningful relationships beyond seniority levels fosters a holistic sense of belonging.
  • Guided structure: 
    • Programs that are easy to participate in without overwhelming preparation lower barriers to engagement.
  • Personalized (For Everyone)
    • Offering opportunities that are automatically relevant to any and everyone within the company with timely and customizable content.

If you feel like you belong, you’re focused on the energy of the company. And at GE Digital we’re taking on a world-wide problem – a sense of belonging makes employees feel like they’re part of that answer – so belonging is critically important.

Kristen Sanderson

Science-based Approach to Belonging 

The Imperative platform is intentionally designed to connect employees across the organization in a way that builds trust and scales culture. Kristen identified Imperative as unique in it’s ability to create lasting connection between employees across both experience level and geography through conversations that supported progress towards the belonging metric. The core elements of the platform are built to effectively create connections that increase employee engagement:

  • Purpose Profile
    • Empower employees with unique insights about their strengths and motivation.
  • AI Matching
    • Connect the right people using individual employee traits and data from our Purpose Profile.
  • Smart Conversations
    • Accelerate impact with guided, personalized conversations aligned with org goals.
  • Customer Dashboard
    • Gain access to powerful data & actionable insights about your employees.

“Forming these connections allows people to think about their workplace as a community rather than just a place to go show up every day and put your 8 hours of work in. That definitely brings forward the mindset that will result in an effective and productive culture.”

Kristen Sanderson

Evaluating Success: The Results

Boosting belonging through meaningful conversations yielded positive outcomes at GE Digital. Connections were formed across the company, spanning geographies, roles, functions, and seniorities, reflecting Kristen’s core belonging metric.

Results included a 5-point increase in GE Digital’s quarterly belonging measurement, with 76% of employees reporting that conversations on Imperative increased their sense of belonging. The impact of these conversations extended beyond work, fostering connections and positive sentiments throughout the organization.

Kristen’s Advice for Transforming Belonging

Key takeaways from Kristen’s journey in transforming belonging center around creating opportunities for thoughtful and deliberate engagement:

Target Areas of Disconnection

  • Kristen recommends focusing your belonging efforts intentionally on silos and areas of know segmentations.

Prioritize Communication

  • Diligent communication within the program and to newcomers of the program is essential to program member’s success.

Experience It First-Hand

  • Kristen herself participates in Imperative conversations on a regular basis, and recommends that other facilitators of belonging programs personally participate in their programs order to understand and promote it’s benefits to a wider audience.

“The difference that a conversation and a connection makes is so powerful. I participate in the in all the connections as well, so I experience it first hand. And so I to see what I experience reflected across the rest of the organization – it’s just very powerful for me.”

Kristen Sanderson

Increasing Engagement By Scaling Belonging: GE Digital Webinar

As businesses continue to evolve, the importance of belonging in the workplace becomes even more critical. Organizations focusing on creating a culture of belonging benefit from increased employee engagement, higher job satisfaction, and enhanced overall performance. Kristen Sanderson’s innovative approach at GE Digital exemplifies how prioritizing belonging can yield significant results, fostering a sense of connection and engagement in a diverse, distributed workforce.

Activating Belonging Through Meaningful Conversations: GE Digital Webinar

See the platform in action