7 Ways to Effectively Connect Employees at WorkBlog / October 19, 2022 / with Yves-André Mahler
Connecting employees at the workplace is essential for many reasons. It helps employees feel appreciated and valued by management, leading to higher productivity and better performance. And yet, many companies don’t have a strategic approach to fostering employee connection.
Read more about the importance of employee connection and seven easy ways to foster it.
WHY CONNECTED EMPLOYEES ARE IMPORTANT
Well-connected employees should never be a nice-to-have. It must be the goal of every company to build as broad employee networks as possible. Connected employees mean more communication, collaboration, a more incredible culture, and an open, feedback-giving work environment.
Research by Workhuman showed that 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes.
But that’s not the only positive outcome of well-connected colleagues
- A good and established internal network helps employees better understand the company’s purpose. They understand their own roles as well as the others and get a big, holistic view of the company
- When colleagues are well connected, they interact more and are more engaged at work. A Gallup Study showed that highly engaged teams show 21% more profitability
- Productivity also benefits from employee connection. Studies found that well-connected employees are more productive
- A good employee network also has a positive impact on knowledge transfer. If colleagues are connected with each other beyond borders and departments, knowledge and experience can easily be exchanged.
- Silo mentality still is a big issue in many companies. Connecting employees across departments help to tear down these internal boundaries.
Recent studies about company culture and collaboration
START WITH THE RIGHT BASICS TO CONNECT EMPLOYEES
Companies must provide the right basics to enable employee networking in the long run. First, employees and new colleagues must know how they can connect with one another. An employee handbook can be handy here.
Secondly, companies must create an environment where colleagues feel comfortable connecting with others – especially those outside their usual bubble. Company culture is here the cue.
CREATE AN EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
An employee handbook is a document that outlines policies and procedures for employees. This includes things like dress code, attendance policy, and other rules that apply to everyone in the company. A good employee handbook will also outline employee benefits, such as paid vacation days, sick leave, and retirement plans.
Furthermore, it can be used to connect employees with each other. How?
If it includes guidelines and offers tools to connect with colleagues. Employee Handbook should not be only about policies but also a helpful guideline for employees.
It can, for example, include a chapter on how to connect with co-workers.
This chapter will list all the tools the companies provide, as well as regular events and tips. Thus, new colleagues will know right from the beginning how to approach their colleagues and which tools and channels to use.
SET UP A GOOD COMPANY CULTURE
Setting up a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns with each other is essential. Because employees who feel uncomfortable speaking up might not share ideas or concerns that could help improve the work environment.
Connected employees are only a small part of company culture.
Setting up an open and positive company culture is not as easy as it seems. It is an ongoing and long-term project that will show its positive impact in the long run.
Experts from the Harvard Business Review identified four key attributes of every strong company culture: the culture is shared, pervasive, enduring, and implicit.
Find out more details on how to build a sustaining and great culture.
7 EASY WAYS TO FOSTER CONNECTION BETWEEN EMPLOYEES
When it comes to creating a cohesive work environment, there are a few key things you can do to foster connection between employees. First, ensure everyone feels like they are part of the team by encouraging collaboration and communication. Secondly, create opportunities for socializing outside work, whether through company-sponsored events or simply getting to know each other personally. Finally, show your employees that you care about their well-being by investing in their development and creating a supportive environment. Find out about these steps in a more detailed way in the following paragraph:
1. SHARED COMPANY VISION AND VALUES
The communication of the company’s vision and values should always be the center of internal communication.
Values are the foundation of any organization. They provide a sense of direction and purpose and help an organization articulate its goals and priorities.
Shared values also help to create a sense of unity and community within an organization. Employees who feel that they share the same values as their colleagues are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work.
They are also more likely to support one another and cooperate in achieving the organization’s goals. In this way, employees connect genuinely in the long term.
Furthermore, companies should keep in mind to hire for culture fit. Testing culture fit in job interviews has become more popular in the past years and is a current recruiting trend. Find out more about how to hire for culture fit.
Company values should constantly be communicated and as well be a part of everyday worklife
2. CONNECT EMPLOYEES ACROSS HIERARCHY LEVELS
There are a few reasons why it is crucial to connect employees across hierarchy levels:
First, it can help break down internal silos and encourage department collaboration. Also, it can help to create a more level playing field, where everyone feels equal and has a voice. Lastly, it can help build trust and understanding between employees of different levels, leading to a more harmonious workplace.
Here are three ways to connect employees across hierarchy levels in the long run:
- Create opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration, such as team-building exercises or cross-departmental projects.
- Encourage employees to socialize with each other outside of work, such as through company-sponsored social events or by starting an Employee Resource Group.
- Hold regular company-wide meetings where employees of all levels can share updates, ideas, and feedback.
Did you know?
In South Korea, some companies use fantasy names at work to encourage closer connections between hierarchical levels. Some Korean start-ups are now using this method to improve corporate structures. Since this model seems successful, big companies, like Samsung, are now jumping on this trend.
Networking across hierarchical levels is not only simple, but also effective
3. ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO CONNECT THROUGH CONFERENCES AND SEMINARS
There are many benefits to encouraging employees to attend conferences and seminars together. Doing so can help build team unity, promote knowledge sharing, and provide opportunities for professional development. Additionally, it can help create a sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps among employees.
Why do employees connect better when they learn something new together?
- They can talk about the conference and the seminar afterward. In this way, they not only help each other to understand the seminar’s content more detailedly. Furthermore, this exchange can help people who usually don’t network with others. Talking about the seminar makes it easy to start a conversation.
- Growing together is a bonding experience. It allows both individuals to develop a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. Further, it provides an opportunity for both individuals to learn from each other and share knowledge. Beyond that, it helps build trust and respect between the two individuals. Finally, it can lead to a more positive and productive working relationship.
The exchange of information after a conference in particular makes a significant contribution to employee networking
4. SOCIALIZING WITH EACH OTHER OUTSIDE OF WORK
Socializing with colleagues outside work can help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of belonging. It can help colleagues get to know each other on a more personal level, making working together more enjoyable and productive.
Spending time together outside of work can help relieve stress and build a stronger sense of team spirit.
HR and team managers should actively promote such events.
Some ways colleagues can socialize outside work include going out for drinks or dinner, attending social events together, or simply spending time together outside work hours.
- For example, they can organize “Friday Sundowner” events regularly
- Set up internal groups for sports-interested colleagues who can so and watch games together
- Initiate events for true crime interested colleagues, like going to an escape room together
These are just some examples of how employees can socialize outside work. Of course, the event types will vary for every organization, depending on the interest of the employees
Ending the work week together bonds and strengthens the sense of belonging
5. ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO PARTICIPATE IN CHARITY WORK TOGETHER
Several factors make charitable work crucial for businesses. Companies gain a good reputation as a start. Moreover, it promotes positive employee attitudes toward their employer and their work. A positive effect on staff attraction and retention also cannot be denied.
But finally and most importantly, it fosters a feeling of community and companionship among colleagues.
Here are some examples of charity work that can be done to bring colleagues closer together:
- Giving employees paid time off to volunteer with a charity of their choice. In this way, companies can ensure that employees will take time for charity work
- Creating a company-wide volunteer day where employees can choose to work with a local charity of their choice. The local charities can be selected beforehand, and colleagues from all departments and hierarchy levels can be mixed together based on their choice of project
- Sponsoring a charity event which will be organized by the companies. Employees will work as volunteers in different project groups
Company-wide volunteer days can help connect colleagues from different departments
6. SET UP INTERNAL MENTORING PROGRAMS
Mentoring programs have a positive impact on company culture by helping to develop and retain employees. By providing mentees with access to experienced professionals, mentoring programs help employees gain the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their careers.
In addition, mentoring programs can help build relationships between employees and foster a sense of togetherness within the workplace.
There are many different types of mentoring programs. Some are designed to help people transition into a new career, while others are focused on assisting people in developing specific skills or knowledge.
Mentoring programs can be executed in two ways: one-to-one or as a group. Both have advantages and help bring employees closer together:
- One-to-one mentoring: In this type of program, each mentee is paired with a mentor who can provide guidance and support on a range of topics. Mentor and mentee are directly interacting with each other regularly.
- Group mentoring: This mentoring type brings together a group of mentees who meet regularly with a mentor or group of mentors. The mentees can learn from each other as well as from the mentor.
Mentoring programs effectively help build relationships between employees of different hierarchies
7. USE TECHNOLOGY TO ENHANCE EMPLOYEE CONNECTION AND COMMUNICATION
There are many ways companies can use technology to enhance internal communication. Some common ways include using video conferencing for meetings, instant messaging for quick communication, and intranets to share information and documents. Additionally, companies can use social media platforms to create employee groups and encourage networking and collaboration.
Here are some easy-to-implement ideas and tools:
- Companies can use technology to create internal communication channels, such as chat rooms, forums, or blogs. Slack, for example, is a tool that allows chatting one-to-one, as well as within specific channels
- Secondly, to create virtual meeting spaces where employees can meet and collaborate online. Gathertown is one example of a virtual space that can be used as a virtual office space. Also, the Metaverse will be trending in the coming years.
- Furthermore, matching software can be used. This kind of software matches colleagues, who usually don’t have touchpoints. This helps employees to connect outside their department and bubble. Mystery Coffee is one of the leading tools here.
Virtual coffee breaks are an example of using technology to improve communication
HOW TO CONNECT YOUR EMPLOYEES VIRTUALLY?
A lot has changed since COVID came into our lives. Especially the work models are not the same anymore. Some employees work remotely or in a hybrid modus; some are back in the office.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to give these colleagues the right tools to connect and network with each other.
Technology is one of the best ways to strategically foster employee connection in every working setup. And this actually is the most dangerous part here:
What about the colleagues who are not back in the office (yet)? What about those who only come to the office once a week?
HR managers must ensure that these colleagues don’t feel left out. Offering virtual ways to do so seems like the only way here.
Examples of connecting colleagues virtually are virtual coffee breaks, theme-based channels in the intranet, virtual office rooms, matchmaking solutions, playing online games together, or virtual team events.
Find out more about collaborating in a hybrid work setup in one of our other articles.
FOCUS ON CONNECTED EMPLOYEES – IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT?
This article showed many benefits of employee connection, as well as easy ways to do so. By following these seven tips, companies will not only bring their employees closer together but also accelerate their company culture. Nevertheless, every company is different, and so are the employees’ preferences. Hence, HR managers should include the ideas and feedback of their colleagues when setting up internal initiatives for employee networking.
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