How to Build Employee Connection and 12 Ways to Build One
Employees who feel connected to the company and each other are key to a successful business. A strong employee connection benefits employees and the companies that employ them. Once employees feel connected, maintaining their bonds can help them grow.
But, it is easier said than done because connecting with so many people emotionally takes a lot and may not come naturally to everybody. Most workplaces today face this dip, and as per studies, lack of employee connection is one of the major causes of it.
Well, what we mean is,
Employee connection is more than just a hyperbolic version for corporations today; it is the heartbeat of many businesses. It's the jackpot of a thriving workplace, where everyone is on the same team, working towards a common goal.
But, let's face it, creating a culture of connection isn't always easy or a priority in today's fast-paced and highly competitive work environment. Unfortunately, many businesses are struggling because of that too. So, how to establish employee connections, and how to maintain them?
So, with that thought, let’s dive in and see how strong employee connections can transform a mundane workplace into a thriving space for employees.
What is Employee Connection?
Employee connection refers to an individual's sense of belonging and engagement toward their workplace and colleagues. It encompasses the emotional and social bonds employees form with each other and their connection to the company's values and mission.
A strong employee connection can lead to higher job satisfaction, better performance, and increased organizational commitment.
Benefits of Employee Connection the Workplace
Employee connection is like a secret weapon for companies. They offer benefits like-
- Creating a sense of belonging, fostering teamwork, and boosting morale. When employees feel connected to their colleagues and company, they're more likely to bring their A-game, collaborate effectively, and have a sense of belonging that fuels their productivity.
- Not to mention a positive and supportive work environment is a key factor in retaining top talent and attracting new hires.
So if you want to elevate your workplace culture and enhance your team's performance, start by weaving meaningful connections among your employees. Trust us; it's the not-so-secret sauce for success!
There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE
12 Smart Ways to Build Employee Connection
1. Engage Without Pretense.
While it may be tempting to implement surface-level initiatives to give the appearance of employee engagement, true connection and engagement cannot be faked or forced. Instead, organizations must create a culture including open communication, collaboration, and respect for each individual's unique talents and contributions. The workforce should be clearly informed about their feedback and implementations without having to be enticed with empty promises.
Let us understand this better with the following example.
In July 2001, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, fired all of Google's project managers. The engineers assumed that the company was into technical innovation and that managers limited their autonomy. ‘
As a result, the decision was quickly reversed, managers were rehired, and team-based functions were resumed, leading to an 85000-strong global workforce - 30% of which is managerial. This was only possible because Google focussed on employee connection and other criteria.
How can this help in employee connection?
- Engaging with employees without pretense is essential for building authentic and meaningful connections. When managers approach employees with honesty and transparency, it creates an environment of trust and respect.
- Employees can sense when managers are not being genuine, and this can create a sense of disconnection and disengagement. On the other hand, when managers communicate honestly and openly, employees feel valued and respected, which can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and commitment.
- It is the key to creating a positive and productive corporate culture where employees feel connected, supported, and empowered to do their best work.
2. Frequent Interaction Helps
Interacting frequently with employees is like watering a plant. Even if it doesn't bloom overnight, it helps establish roots that will eventually grow into a healthy and vibrant relationship.
Leaders can create trust and camaraderie by having regular conversations and showing a genuine interest in their lives and work. And boy, doesn’t it feel good to be seen and heard?
Employees who feel valued are more likely to be invested in their work and the team's success. So don't be afraid to sprinkle a little water on those employee relationships - it might take time, but the results will be worth it.
And for those honest-to-God remote workers, virtual sessions in Zoom, skype can motivate them to be a part of the company and bond with the team. Such software offers a plethora of features making virtual sessions fruitful and fun. This way, the remote employees will not be left behind and can be an active part of the organization.
Vantage Fit is a comprehensive fitness platform that can help employees achieve their fitness goals while promoting better mental and physical health.
By leading by example and participating in Vantage Fit challenges, managers can set a positive tone for their team members and encourage them to prioritize their health and well-being. This platform provides a forum where employees can come together for fitness challenges, share their progress, and compete in a gamified leaderboard.
Through friendly competition, Vantage Fit helps employees stay motivated and accountable, leading to better fitness outcomes. The mental and physical health benefits of regular exercise and healthy eating habits cannot be overstated.
By leading by example, managers can establish a stronger connection with their employees and create a healthier and more productive workplace.
With its AI-powered features, gamified leaderboard, and an array of customizations it can adapt as per your needs and requirements.
3. Upgrade the Company Values
Your company values are your company DNA, and they help you differentiate your business from the competition. You can't make any important business decisions without keeping them in mind.
Companies are often mocked for their stringency and cynical company values. While traditional corporate values like profitability and efficiency remain important, they are no longer enough to build a successful and sustainable business.
So, if tweaking the values a little does the work, so be it. After all, as they say, ‘if you can’t change them, change yourselves!!
However, it is important to remember that the new values should be an amalgamation of the mission statement and the newly anointed values. Upgrading a company's values can create a sense of shared purpose, pride, and belonging among employees, leading to stronger relationships, better emotional connection, effective collaboration, and greater engagement.
But what can go wrong?
Upgrading the values is easier said than done. If the new values are not implemented well, it may lead to a disaster. Failing to modernize a company's values is akin to sticking with a flip phone in the age of smartphones - you'll be left behind while your competitors zip ahead.
So, how to proceed?
- While upgrading company values for better employee connection is noble endeavor, it's not without its pitfalls. Firstly, it's important to ensure that the values are authentic and aligned with the company's mission rather than just paying lip service to popular trends.
- Secondly, communicating these values effectively to employees is crucial; otherwise, they may feel disconnected or resentful. Thirdly, implementing the values consistently and holding everyone accountable is essential; otherwise, they may become empty platitudes.
- Lastly, it's important to recognize that values are not a one-time fix but an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and adaptation. Otherwise, the whole exercise may be a wasted effort, and the work culture may end up with meaningless buzzwords instead of a genuine culture.
Did you know? Major employees (75%) believe that core values are extremely important to their company.
4. Branding of the Employees'
Employer branding works the same way to attract talent, as consumer branding does to attract customers."
~Janet Man – VP of Global Talent Management, Schneider Electric~
Employee branding is the siren call of a company's essence, beckoning its loyal workforce to the shores of engagement and connection. When done right, it's a masterful dance of alignment and affinity, where the values and goals of the organization and its employees merge into a beautiful tango of mutual benefit.
To cultivate a sense of belonging and camaraderie that transcends the daily routines of the workplace, one must create an identity that resonates with the hearts and minds of the team.
So, we can all safely agree that a strong employee brand is an ultimate matchmaker for a happy and productive workforce.
However, there are a few downsides to it, if not trudged carefully.
- One could be the risk of creating a disconnect between the company's stated values and the actual experience of its employees.
- In the absence of alignment between employee branding and reality, employee skepticism and mistrust can lead to the company's reputation being damaged.
So, what can be done?
- To counter this, it's essential to ensure that the branding strategy is grounded in reality and reflects the actual employee experience.
- This means involving employees in developing and implementing the strategy, being transparent about the company's strengths and weaknesses, and actively seeking and responding to feedback.
When employees feel their voices are heard and their input is valued, they are more likely to be invested in the company's success. They are also more willing to promote the brand to others.
An inspiring example is Cisco.
In 2014, Cisco launched its "Life at Cisco campaign, which encouraged employees to share their personal experiences and stories on the company's social media accounts. This approach aimed to showcase the company's diverse and inclusive culture and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make up the organization.
Through this campaign, Cisco created a sense of community and connection among its employees and humanized the brand in the eyes of customers and external stakeholders. The Life at Cisco initiative has been widely regarded as a successful employee branding strategy. It helps attract and retain top talent by promoting the company's positive work culture and values.
5. SMART Goals Will Make you Smart
Having SMART goals in place is quintessential for goal setting in an organization. Trust me, they will make the workplace both savvy and sophisticated.
By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals, employees and their organizations can achieve a dynamic and fruitful connection that fosters growth and productivity.
Setting SMART goals offers several benefits for employee connection.
- They provide a clear roadmap for employees, reducing ambiguity and confusion and allowing for a sense of direction and purpose.
- They also create a sense of ownership and accountability, empowering employees to take ownership of their work and be proactive in achieving their objectives.
- By aligning their goals with those of the company, employees can feel more connected to the organization and invested in its success.
But this can go wrong if not taken care of. While setting SMART goals can be a powerful tool for employee connection, this approach has potential downsides.
- It is possible that employees can become fixated on meeting specific targets at the expense of creativity, innovation, and long-term growth. This, however, happens if they are too focused on achieving specific targets.
- Employees can become demotivated and discouraged, if the goals are difficult or unrealistic, resulting in burnout.
So, how can we counter that?
- To counter these potential downsides, it's important to approach SMART goals as a tool for guidance rather than a strict set of rules. Companies should encourage employees to be flexible and adaptable in achieving their goals.
- It is also important to treat setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. It will allow you to regularly evaluate and adjust the goals to remain relevant and achievable.
6. Celebrate Achievements and Recognize Efforts
Have you ever received a compliment or recognition that just made your day? Maybe it was a simple "good job" from your boss or a "way to go" from a colleague. It feels great to know that your hard work and efforts are appreciated.
Let's face it, we all crave recognition and appreciation for our hard work. It's what keeps us going and motivates us to do even better. Celebrating achievements and recognizing efforts can have a powerful impact on employee connection. It's a simple yet effective way to show employees that their contributions matter and that they're an integral part of the team.
Research concluded that a recognition program boosts employee performance, engagement, and productivity by 14% compared to a company without one.
When employees feel valued, they're more likely to be engaged, committed, and satisfied with their work. It goes a long way in building a strong and loyal workforce to recognize your employees' achievements, whether a shout-out at a team meeting, a personal note, or a celebratory lunch.
Remember, it's not just a nice thing to do; it's a smart business move.
Vantage Circle is cloud-based employee benefits and engagement platform that offers organizations a comprehensive range of employee recognition and rewards programs. The platform provides a simple, efficient, and user-friendly way for companies to recognize and appreciate their employees' hard work and achievements. This platform is an ingenious solution to recognize remote workers too.
The platform offers a range of recognition programs, including peer-to-peer recognition, manager recognition, and milestone-based rewards. Its core focus is to help companies create a culture of recognition, appreciation, and engagement that ultimately leads to a more motivated and loyal workforce.
While we are on it, Vantage Circle uses the AIRe framework to ensure employee connections are nurtured and leveraged to drive engagement, motivation, and satisfaction. Employee connection provides the emotional and social bonds crucial for the team members to feel valued, supported, and connected to their workplace.
Why is AIRe important in an organization?
AIRe framework and employee connection are in a symbiotic relationship, each supporting and strengthening the other. By investing in both, organizations can create a workplace culture that is supportive, inclusive, and engaging, leading to better employee outcomes and improved business performance.
When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”
- Simon Sinek
But how to go about it?
In today’s world of go-getter corporations, having employee connections is a business imperative. It's time for organizations to realize that their employees are not just cogs in a machine but individuals with unique needs, motivations, and desires. They should thus, be motivated and compensated equitably.
So to go about it, it is necessary to build a communication strategy for your team to follow. So, let’s roll and find out how to build a successful employee connection strategy for a better organizational culture, but not before glimpsing at a few of its benefits.
You should know you can go wrong with recognition if not implemented well.
That's right! Although recognition is highly appreciated in all sectors, the approach to it should be tailored as per the industry. This will result in personalized recognition and better loyalty.
One common mistake is a lack of specificity in the recognition. Generic compliments like "good job" or "well done" can lack meaning and fail to recognize the actual effort and achievements of the employee.
What’s the solution, then?
- Be honest and open about the company's goals, challenges, and successes, as well as listen to and acknowledge employees' concerns and needs.
- By creating a culture of trust and respect, managers can build stronger relationships with their employees and foster a more engaged and emotionally connected workforce. This involves not just communicating with employees but also actively involving them in decision-making and problem-solving.
A unique example here is Megacorp Apple, which has an excellent recognition and engagement program.
Apple's beer bash is a regular employee event where employees come together to unwind, socialize, and celebrate their hard work and achievements. The event is held on the last Friday of every month, and it's an opportunity for employees to connect with colleagues from different teams and departments. Awards and recognitions are also given to the performers of the month.
The beer bash is just one example of how Apple prioritizes employee connection and fosters a strong company culture. Apple is building a sense of community and shared purpose among its employees by providing opportunities for employees to socialize and relax,
7. Communication Channels Can be a Great Help
Workplace communication is the key to any successful relationship, and the same goes for the employer-employee dynamic. When it comes to establishing strong employee connections, internal communication channels play a crucial role.
By utilizing various internal channels, employers can effectively speak to their employees and create a sense of community. Channels like face-to-face communication, email, instant messaging, social media, and video conferencing offer great results and work in favor of companies.
Think of it like having different tools in your toolbox. You wouldn't use a hammer to screw in a nail, would you?
Similarly, you wouldn't communicate important information through social media memes. The right communication channel can make all the difference in building those meaningful connections with your employees. So choose your tools wisely, and let the conversations begin!
Although, ironically many legendary brands had to face the music at some point due to poor communication channels.
The Wells Fargo scandal resulted in a $185 million fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2016. The scandal involved the bank's employees creating millions of unauthorized accounts for customers to meet sales targets and earn bonuses.
This fraudulent activity went on for several years, and during this time, many employees raised concerns about the unethical practices to their superiors but were ignored. The scandal highlighted the negative impact of a sales-driven culture that placed too much emphasis on targets and incentives and not enough on ethical practices and customer service.
How can internal communication help in this?
- Clear communication channels would have brought the incident to light on time
- Accepting responsibility
- Proper communication with stakeholders
- Clear communication and briefing to employees on the situation
In today's fast-paced business world, effective communication channels are essential for building strong employee connections, promoting collaboration, and improving overall productivity.
By investing in reliable communication tools and encouraging open and transparent communication, organizations improve company culture that fosters employee commitment, emotional stability, and loyalty.
As per a Harvard Business Review, the time spent in meetings each week has more than doubled this year. Chats sent per person each week have also increased by over 40%, and these numbers are still rising. Like personal friendships, building social capital takes time and effort.
8. Lead by Example
This is a significant step while establishing employee connections. This is where leaders or managers demonstrate the behaviors and actions that they want to see in their employees like listen actively and show genuine interest, and offering unbiased decisions.
By doing so, leaders can set a positive tone and encourage a culture of trust and collaboration that can help to strengthen employee connections and engagement. It also demonstrates that the leaders are invested in creating a supportive and positive work environment, which can inspire employees to do the same.
While leading by example can be a powerful way to establish employee connection, this step can go downhill quite quickly.
- Inconsistency: If leaders are inconsistent in their behaviors or do not follow through on promises or commitments, employees may lose trust and respect for them.
- Misinterpretation: Employees may misinterpret the leader's intentions or messages, which could lead to confusion or conflict.
- Lack of Alignment: If the leader's behavior does not align with the company's culture or values, it may create a disconnect between the leader and the employees.
- Bias: Leaders may have unconscious biases that influence their behavior, which can negatively impact employee connections.
It is important for leaders to be aware of these potential challenges and take steps to mitigate them, including seeking employee feedback, regularly assessing their behavior, and communicating clearly and transparently.
9. Embrace Cross-department Connections
Embracing cross-department collaborations is a powerful way to create a workplace culture that fosters strong employee connections, encourages creativity, and fuels productivity.
By breaking down silos and promoting collaboration, you're building a dynamic and engaged workforce that can tackle complex challenges easily. It's like combining the best ingredients from different recipes to create a truly unique and delicious dish.
As per studies, Employees are, on average, 17% more satisfied with their job when they collaborate at work.”
Having successful interdepartmental connections is like a recipe for success, combining the best ingredients from different parts of the organization, and the result is a masterpiece that's sure to impress. So, if you want to be a bold and innovative leader, don't be afraid to mix things up and embrace the power of cross-department collaboration.
Let’s take about the significant roadblock here!
- While cross-department collaborations can be highly beneficial, there are also potential challenges that leaders should be aware of.
- Communication breakdown: If teams are not communicating effectively, it may lead to confusion and frustration.
- Power struggles: When multiple departments are involved, there can be disagreements over decision-making and resource allocation, which may cause tensions or even conflicts.
- Lack of accountability: It can be challenging to assign clear responsibility and accountability for the outcomes of a project, which can lead to finger-pointing and blame-shifting.
- Cultural differences: Different departments may have unique cultures or ways of working, which may clash or cause misunderstandings.
How do we avoid such situations?
- Establishing clear guidelines and expectations for cross-departmental collaborations is essential, as communicating openly and effectively while ensuring everyone involved is aligned in their goals and values.
- With careful planning and management, cross-departmental collaborations can be a powerful way to drive innovation and build strong employee connections.
10. Role Clarity
Creating role clarity is more than just assigning tasks to employees; it's about helping them understand how their work fits into the larger picture of the organization. When employees understand their roles and responsibilities, they will likely feel a sense of purpose and connection to the company.
It's like pieces of a puzzle - each employee's role is a critical part of the larger picture, and when everyone understands how they fit together, it creates a beautiful and cohesive picture.
Employees who experience role clarity are 53% more efficient and 27% more effective at work than those with role ambiguity. Our research shows that overall work performance increases by 25%.
How does having role clarity help?
- Some of the other ways to strengthen employee connections are by investing in social causes, volunteering efforts, fundraising challenges, and luncheons.
- By investing in role clarity, leaders can build trust and collaboration, empower employees to be their best selves and create a workplace culture that supports growth and success. This results in a stronger sense of belonging.
So, take the time to help your employees understand their roles and how they contribute to the organization's goals. It's the key to building a high-performing and connected team.
11. Extensive Use of Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools are the ultimate secret weapon for boosting employee connection and turning your workforce into a super team. With the right tools at their fingertips, employees can easily communicate, collaborate and work together in real-time, no matter where they are.
From video conferencing to instant messaging and shared project management software, collaboration tools provide a platform for employees to share ideas, brainstorm, and work together to achieve shared goals.
These tools help create a culture of innovation and inclusivity, where employees feel empowered to share their insights and work together to solve complex problems. This enables emotional connection among team members.
12. Employee Connection & Employee Engagement
Employee connection and engagement are two sides of the same coin. When employees feel connected to their colleagues, managers, and the company, they're more engaged in their work.
Connection creates a positive work environment that fosters collaboration, creativity, and a shared sense of purpose. On the other hand, disconnection can lead to disengagement and decreased motivation.
When employees feel disconnected, they may lack the drive to perform at their best, ultimately impacting the company's bottom line.
So, how to introduce employee engagement?
To establish employee engagement for disconnected employees using a rewards and recognition platform is a great idea. Investing in an employee rewards program is a smart way to foster a positive and productive workplace culture.
With Vantage Circle, companies can easily create a rewards program that incentivizes and recognizes employees for their hard work and achievements. By prioritizing employee engagement and satisfaction, companies can reap the benefits of a motivated and loyal workforce.
How do you Maintain Employee Connections After Implementing Them?
Maintaining employee connection is just as important as creating it in the first place. Once you've implemented strategies to boost employee connection, you need to keep the momentum going.
- One way to maintain employee connection is by regularly seeking feedback from your employees. Ask for their input on new projects or initiatives, and create opportunities for them to provide feedback on their experience working with the team. It shows that you value their input and are invested in their success.
- Also, make sure you're using the right tools to support employee connection. In today's fast-paced business world, collaboration tools are essential for success.
- With the ability to connect employees across distances and time zones, collaboration tools can help transform the workforce into a highly connected space ready to take on any challenge.
Whether it's communication platforms, collaboration tools, or social channels, ensure that your employees have the tools they need to stay connected and engaged.
How to Measure Employee Connection?
You can measure employee connection through surveys, employee retention statistics, turnover rates, and observing employee behavior and interactions.
Surveys can be a great way to get feedback from employees. It will help you measure how connected they feel to their colleagues and the company.
Survey questions can include communication and collaboration between employees, the sense of belonging and purpose, and the degree to which employees feel valued and appreciated. A great platform to refer to for surveys is Vantage Pulse, a product of Vantage Circle.
Vantage Pulse is a powerful tool that helps companies measure employee engagement and connection. It provides real-time feedback and insights allowing managers to identify areas of improvement. It, in turn, helps them take action to address them.
- With Vantage Pulse, companies can create custom surveys and pulse polls. This eNPS-based gathers employee feedback on the work environment, leadership, career growth, and communication.
- The platform then analyzes the data and provides actionable insights to managers. This facilitates data-driven decisions and focuses on efforts.
Emotional connection is an obligatory thread between humans and prevails in all walks of life. Without it, any relationship, professional or personal, is like dry bark. That is why workplaces today emphasize employee connection.
Effective workplace connection requires more than just playing tokenism to employee engagement. Building a communication strategy tailored to your workplace's unique needs and challenges and then consistently implementing and refining that strategy over time.
* Poignant employee connections are hard to find and even harder to keep. Establishing an emotional connection is not just a feel-good initiative but a strategic investment that can yield significant returns. * By prioritizing relationship-building and creating a culture of connectedness, organizations can set themselves up for long-term success. This will positively impact their employees, customers, and stakeholders.
Succinctly speaking, employee connection is the linchpin holding your workplace together. Without it, you're in for a wild ride of miscommunication, lost productivity, and a general sense of discontent.
So, level up folks, because empathy and understanding can go a long way!!’
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the basic benefit of employee connection?
Employee connection is the key to unlocking a workplace that isn't just good but legendary. It's what transforms a group of individuals into a united force capable of achieving incredible things that would be impossible alone.
When employees are connected, they become a tribe that supports each other, challenges each other, and inspires each other to reach new heights. So if you want to create a truly exceptional workplace, you need to invest in building those connections and fostering that sense of belonging and purpose.
Because when you do, there's no limit to what your team can accomplish together.
2. How to connect with a new employee?
Connecting with a new employee can be an exciting opportunity to expand your professional network and build a new relationship. It can also be a bit nerve-wracking as you try to make a positive impression and find common ground.
- To connect with a new employee, start by breaking the ice with a funny joke or story that shows off your sense of humor. It can help ease tension and create a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
- Another approach is to ask them about their interests, hobbies, or favorite TV shows and movies. This can help you find common ground and open up new topics for discussion.
- Bringing in some snacks or treats to share is another great way to create a friendly and welcoming environment.
- Finally, be sure to listen actively and show genuine interest in what the new employee says. By doing so, you'll not only make a great impression but also build a solid foundation for a meaningful and productive relationship.
3. What is the objective of the employee connect program?
The objective of an employee connect program is to
- Create a workplace that's not just a collection of individuals but a powerful team ready to conquer any challenge that comes their way.
- It's about building a community of people who support and inspire each other and work together toward a shared purpose.
- By fostering positive employee relationships, companies can create a culture of collaboration and innovation. This will, in turn, drive success for the entire organization.
Employee connection isn't just a feel-good buzzword - it's a strategic imperative for any business that wants to stay ahead of the game.
4. Is there a connection between customer service and employee empowerment?
There is a strong connection between customer service and employee empowerment. When you empower employees, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. This makes them better equipped to provide excellent customer service.
Empowered employees have the authority and tools to solve customer problems. They make decisions in the customer's best interest, leading to better resolution and satisfaction. They are more motivated to go above and beyond for customers, driving home loyalty and business.
5.Which communication platforms to use for better employee connection?
Let us look at some popular communication platforms that strengthen employee connection
- Microsoft Team
- Go to Meeting
- Basecamp 3