Text originally published at Templafy.com

Words matter. Our head of People+ (what we call our HR department) knows this better than most. Anne-Marie Finch is known for going beyond policies and ideals; she actively influences our unique culture to ensure people’s happiness in the workplace, and she does this right down to the linguistic level. We are not human resources; we are people.

In the spirit of meaningful signaling, Anne-Marie is announcing a change of her title to Chief Belongingness Officer. And with this new title (the first-ever globally, we might add), her role will focus entirely on scaling belongingness at Templafy.

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We believe belongingness is the answer to how we scale our unique culture. And as Templafy continues rapid growth, it’s critical to foster and actively maintain that. We plan to do so by positioning belongingness as the cornerstone of our culture across all our offices around the world.

Belongingness is critical to the success of Templafy; it’s how we ensure that all of the unique voices have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of our company; it’s how we ultimately ensure the success of scaling our community; it’s how we create an intentional space for all Templafyers, no matter their role.” – Anne-Marie Finch, Chief Belongingness Officer

The meaning of belongingness

At its core, belongingness is the human emotional need to be accepted as a group member. It’s the need to give and receive attention to and from others. In fact, the desire to belong is so universal that it’s found across all cultures; whether one finds that sense of belonging with friends, family-co-workers, a religion – the inherent desire to belong and be regarded as a part of something greater than themselves is always there, no matter who you are.

“Belongingness ensures that every voice is heard.”

It’s all too easy for growing companies to focus more and more on business outcomes and the measurement tools needed to grow. In that rush of success, they stop seeing the unique individuals that drive that growth. In such situations, finding a sense of belonging is not a sure thing; people lose the trust and sense of security found in knowing you’re a valued part of the group. But when you feel that you belong, you come to work every day comfortable to be who you are – and that’s when employees can reach their true potential. 

What does belongingness mean to us?

For Templafy, we view belongingness as a journey we’ve embarked on that’s open and welcoming to all. We see belongingness as a cultural pillar for Templafy that promotes psychological safety, enabling employees to be their true selves and do their best work.

As a company, we aim to collectively create an environment in which everyone can speakand – crucially – where everyone is heard. While it’s easy to talk about the ideals of a belongingness culture, taking actions that are felt company-wide is how we make it sure goes beyond aspirations and is something felt. And at Templafy, that responsibility is shared by all.

More than words to scale belongingness

To build a strong foundation of belongingness, our People+ team has rolled out many activities and programs that actively make this part of everyday life at Templafy. Starting with weekly Heartbeat meetings on a small team level where everyone is invited to share how they feel, whether they spoke up, and whether they felt they were heard, graduating to leader training that focuses on self-awareness and understanding complex team dynamics. These initiatives drive a stronger sense of psychological safety and ensure that leaders at Templafy guide as sparring partners, not “managers.” 

Leadership training and resources are a key part of spreading this culture at every level of the organization by ensuring a deep understanding of what belongingness means, why it matters, and how to make sure every team member feels it. To support this further, People+ also embarked on a robust workforce mapping program that utilizes the Predictive Index tool to identify employee profiles. As part of this program, Anne-Marie met one-on-one with each employee and her leader to lead a discussion around how to build a partnership that utilizes individuals’ strengths, ensuring every Templafyer can maintain individuality and find success. 

To emphasize being a flat or non-hierarchical culture, Templafy does not have any headquarters: no office is more important than another. The CEO doesn’t sit in a fancy office – Jesper sits among us, and the same goes for the co-founders. At Templafy, we’re all colleagues, and in that sense, we belong equally.

“Gartner research shows that organizations with sustainable D&I initiatives demonstrate a 20% increase in inclusion, which corresponds to greater on-the-job effort and intent to stay, as well as high employee performance.” – Gartner, 2020

Our journey starts now

While we’ve been building the foundation for some time, Anne-Marie’s new title of Chief Belongingness Officer officially marks the beginning of our journey towards embedding our culture of belongingness. This journey belongs to every person in Templafy. As we continue growing, our belongingness culture will develop alongside to ensure we stay true to the words we tell each other: You belong.