Three ways to create meaningful connections between employees and workplaces
With so much disruption to established work-life habits experienced during the pandemic, and across all different industries, the need for ensuring that a workforce is able to feel properly connected has become more important than ever. But we’re not talking about having a strong Wi-Fi connection, we’re talking about promoting greater professional relationships and a sense of company culture to connect employees and teams to their place of work, even when they are left dispersed or remote.
A well-connected workforce means one where there is a sense of belonging through open channels of communication. This promotes effective employee/colleague/manager dialogues about everything from recognition to company updates or overall wellbeing. After all, connected employees are happy employees, and happy employees are more productive. In fact, a team at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School found that ‘happy employees not only work faster but also achieve 13% higher sales than their unhappy colleagues’, so we can see that there are real benefits to gain from having a better connected workforce.
Happy employees work faster and also achieve 13% higher sales than unhappy employees
So what better time to invest in the new ways to create more meaningful connections between employees and their workplaces?
Getting to the root of what this will look and feel like is a process that will be different for every business, since each workforce will have its own unique dynamics that must be taken into consideration. A construction company, for example, will have lots of workers dispersed in small teams across a site, while a hospitality company will deal with constantly changing shift patterns. For many office-based companies there are further complications of returning to workplaces after lockdown with staggered start times, alternating days and distanced desks, not to mention the added feelings of disconnect heightened by living and working through the pandemic. The question is what can employers do to build and maintain better employee connections under all of these different dynamics?
To tackle this problem many businesses have turned to digital platforms that can offer flexibility and personalisation features. While ‘Britons spend the equivalent of 22 years, one month and four days of their life online’, what better way to connect with them than through a technology they’re already addicted to; their smartphones.
When looking to connect with your workforce, it’s important to create a platform or a space that is specifically dedicated to company culture. It needs to be distinct and separate to other platforms that staff may use to conduct normal, work-related activities, otherwise it will be considered in the same light; a tool for work rather than culture. Having a dedicated platform will create an isolated space where companies can share multimedia material and connect with their employees in a way that stands out from other, more mundane, aspects of work.
Newsfeeds are a great function where it’s possible to post tailored content to each employee with which they can easily interact throughout the day. Whether that’s more informal and fun content, or an opportunity to recognise colleagues by showcasing their brilliant work or life achievements, regular, positive communication like this will encourage consistent and frequent interactions between colleagues, teams and managers. A quick ‘like’ on a post or a simple emoji in response to a comment all contribute to a creating a more collaborative workplace culture that will keep staff feeling involved, even if they’re not in the same physical workspace.
It’s no secret that work is more than just a place to actually do work. Now that may sound counterintuitive but when you take a step back, you can see how offices facilitate conversations concerning the newest reality TV show or what the best restaurant is to visit at the weekend, and it’s all good for building that important sense of connection. It’s a social environment with ‘82% of workers considering their colleagues as friends’ and with a recent survey reporting ‘that mindful and happy employees are 12% more productive’, that connection is not to be ignored.
So, when you’re looking to translate this social aspect into today’s landscape, companies should encourage the use of group chats to create that familiar day-to-day ‘work chat’ culture and enable greater connections within a team. We can all empathise with that feeling when everyone else is laughing at an inside joke that you’ve not heard before because you weren’t there at the time, so why not save that awkwardness and give everyone access to a digital platform where they can join in from anywhere? This will ensure that no one feels disadvantaged or out of the loop when their work means that they need to be distanced from colleagues.
To feel connected with a workplace, employees need to feel listened to. Having a voice will help them to feel involved in the direction of the company that they’re helping to build. By lending an ear and just letting them know that you’re open to their feedback, you can reassure them that their opinions are always welcome. This will ensure that employees are always comfortable enough to raise any concerns they have with a manager before the problem escalates, creating a healthier dialogue in the long term.
Equally, no one knows the business better than its employees, so their feedback is invaluable when trying to encourage authentic connections. An effective and targeted way to do this is to take advantage of polls and surveys on a digital platform so that you can receive instant feedback from staff. By taking the initiative to reach out and by giving them an outlet for their opinions, it’s possible to create a more harmonised workforce that feel appreciated and heard.
The workplace has undergone a massive digital transformation over the last couple of years and it’s important that HR teams are given the tools they need to support staff in this changing climate. By focusing on creating authentic connections within a workforce and cultivating a united company voice through the use of technology, employee connections to their place of work will only strengthen, generating much higher retention and productivity.