Organizations around the world have ditched the physical office to offer remote working arrangements to their staff permanently following the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have transitioned to hybrid working models that give employees the flexibility to work from home or in the office whenever they choose. Switching to these modern working arrangements can be a smart move for saving on rent and retaining employees, but there is growing concern that they can erode corporate culture by taking away from connection in the workplace. In this post, we’ll share how you can create a strong culture of connection through hosting social functions, aligning staff with your purpose and values, building a culture of recognition in parallel, and making use of company rewards.
If you think about it, the need for connection is an innate need that all of us look to satisfy right from the moment we’re born. The need to belong is actually so important that in psychology, it sits highly on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Feeling connected to others, be it our friends or our colleagues, generally makes us feel good and puts us in the best mental state to perform our best.
In his book Connection Culture, author Mike Stallard takes an in-depth look at the science of connection and the benefits of connection to businesses. According to his research, when employees are excited and engaged in a culture of connection, regularly feeling positive emotions, you can expect to see improved productivity, strategic alignment, quality of decision making, innovation, agility and adaptability. These improvements can create a rippling effect, leading to the long-term success and competitive advantage of a business. A culture of connection can then make or break a business, so building one is a worthwhile investment.
Here are a few simple yet effective strategies for building and promoting a culture of connection.
Socialization can become much more challenging in remote or hybrid environments with staff having less face time with one another than they did before. So the number one strategy for building connection in your organization is to create opportunities for staff to continue to connect. To make sure that your culture continues to thrive, make a conscious effort to invite your staff to social occasions in the office wherever possible, or take these occasions online. You might want to explore having casual virtual coffee hangouts, happy hours, and Lunch & Learns through apps like Zoom to keep your team spirit alive. By scheduling in some social time like this, you can be sure not to let all your social buzz disappear into thin air just because your staff aren’t in the office full time.
Nothing brings people together like the experience of working towards a common goal. Reminding your workforce of your organization’s purpose and company core values regularly can help foster teamwork and strengthen relationships. When you make regular efforts to remind staff of why they do what they do, you can rest assured that staff will feel connected with their work, with the company, and with one another even when they’re disconnected from the physical office. Some ideas for keeping purpose and values top of mind are to include company messaging in digital internal communications and within the apps your workforce already uses, like Slack or use company rewards to reward staff for exhibiting those values on the daily.
Perhaps the strongest way to build a culture of connection is to also work on building a culture of recognition in parallel.
With staff out of the office all or half of the time, you don’t want to wait until annual company meetings to reward and recognize staff that go the extra mile or it won’t have the same effect. Leading organizations are investing in employee rewards and recognition software to make sure that remote and in-office team members get recognized often and publicly. Most popular company rewards and recognition platforms are also quite customizable to your company culture, allowing you to reward employees for hitting milestones, achieving group goals, or even rewarding them for their quirky skills. Employees even get to choose from a list of company rewards that suit them best. This can be particularly handy if you have a multi-generational workforce who might value different things when it comes to company rewards.
When you build a team that regularly recognizes one another and celebrates wins big and small, you directly help employees build better relationships with one another that ultimately gives them a stronger sense of belonging on the team.
Times are certainly changing, and whether you’re looking to keep your business running as-is, go fully remote, or transition to a hybrid working model, it’s essential that you do the work to foster an environment of connection that will help your staff perform their best. We hope that you find these strategies helpful for keeping your unique corporate culture alive and thriving both online and off.
Interested in elevating your culture? Contact us to learn more about how rewards and recognition can build an engaged and happy work force!