Community: The Heart of the Matter

Saasha Reese, Talent Development Specialist

According to a recent report by Qualtrics (Herbert, 2020), “Belonging has emerged as the top employee experience driver linked to engagement and well-being.”Is anyone really shocked that people are longing for belonging and community?  

We are all essential contributors when it comes to building a culture of belonging and authentic community here at UCO. There are so many large structures, policies and practices that are required to create this environment, but there are also small, intentional and personal ways we each can build community and create belonging.  

A great place to start is where you are. Spend some intentional time communicating care and appreciation to those around you this week. Making a specific effort to check on that student who hasn’t been “present” in your class or thanking a colleague are small but meaningful touch points to create community. 

Another way to connect is to get creative and try something new with your team. It may be time to host a virtual potluck where each member of your team brings a get-to-know-you question to share instead of their favorite dish. Spending time as a team doing something new allows you all to contribute in a setting where no one member is the pre-established expert.  

To cultivate belonging, you may also consider reaching out to a specific person or group. One opportunity to connect may be with new UCO faculty and staff members. We have had so many faculty, staff and student employees join our teams this past year, and quite honestly, we may not have welcomed them to the team as effectively as we did in the pre-pandemic era. An opportunity to deepen community would be to schedule a virtual coffee chat with the new person in your department and ask if there is anything about UCO they want to know or any resources they would like to be connected to.   

So, my challenge to you in the month of love is to find one personal way to build community at UCO—show some love!