HR teams are always looking for ways to make sure their employees enjoy what they do every day and stick around for the long term. An effective way to maximize employee engagement and staff retention is by building a strong culture of connection. This is a type of company culture where staff feel a deep sense of belonging, community, friendship, and commitment to their team. Companies that excel at building these connected cultures end up with strong employer brands, raving Glassdoor reviews, and industry awards for being great places to work. But it’s too easy to assume that connected cultures just happen naturally. Building a connected culture involves doing the work through some very intentional efforts. In this post, we’ll share 3 ways you can start building a connected work culture to transform your business no matter what industry you’re in.
Several HR studies suggest that strong connection in the workplace is linked to increased staff engagement and motivation. This makes total sense since, after all, we are all innately programmed to connect and seek that sense of belonging.
Research by BetterUp called “The Value of Belonging at Work” found that when workers feel like they belong, their companies experience incredible benefits to their bottom line. The study found that a strong sense of belonging was linked to:
Combined, this can amount to millions and millions in annual savings. Having a connected culture doesn’t only save business dollars, it also impacts your earning potential.
Claiming that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, Zappos is an example of a company renowned for having an admirable company culture. Investing heavily into its culture-building has led the company to grow from 8.6 million in annual revenue in 2001 to 1 billion in revenue in 2008. Because of its success, Zappos has now become somewhat of a thought leader in the culture space, regularly releasing resources like its culture book to help other companies achieve the same results.
So having a connected culture isn’t some fluffy concept — it actually makes a huge difference and has the power to truly transform your business. How do you go about building one?
Download our culture of connection checklist below to help guide you!
At the heart of any thriving company culture are the core values that guide how the whole business is run. Company core values like “Trust”, “Accountability”, “Have Fun”, and “Win and Lose as a Team” can play a huge role in helping unite employees. Your company vision can also give your staff a sense of purpose as they work towards shared goals.
On a psychological level, core values and company vision can make a huge difference in how a team operates because people generally feel more engaged when they relate to how a company does business and when they feel that what they do matters. Several studies are showing that giving employees a sense of meaning in their work can go a long way and yield impressive company benefits. Deloitte Insights 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report found that purpose-driven companies had 40% higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors.
When making use of your company’s core values and company vision to build a connected culture, the goal is not to set them and forget them, but to play an active role in keeping these things top of mind for everyone in your organization. To do this, you’ll want to host regular discussions about your values and vision, include them in visible places like within your most-used communication tools like Slack, Confluence, and Monday, and better yet - tie them into your employee recognition. Attaching core values to your recognition practices helps encourage the types of behaviour you want to see modelled in your company. Introducing peer recognition where employees can recognize each other for exhibiting company core values is an even better way to bond your team together. When a team regularly praises and celebrates one another, they naturally start to bond much more as a unit. It helps team members get to know one another much better and helps create a sense of family and team spirit.
For a deeper dive on how to define, implement, and reward employees for exhibiting your company values, check out our 3-part blog post series on company core values:
Or read more about how to make the most out of your company vision here.
As we said at the beginning of this post, companies that enjoy thriving cultures of connection didn’t get there overnight. They gave some serious thought to all the opportunities they had to help staff strengthen their bonds with one another and with the company. You too can do this by exploring all the employee touch-points that exist as part of your employee experience.
Individual touch-points can look like having a buddy system in place when new recruits join the team so that they feel a sense of friendship right from day one on the job. It can also look like offering mentorship from more senior members to help employees grow their careers and develop the skills they need to better succeed in their roles. In remote or hybrid environments where watercooler and coffee chats can be more difficult, you can use apps like the Donut app on Slack that randomly matches two employees to link up for a casual “get to know you” coffee (or Zoom) date.
To help your employees build more connections, you can also set up several inter-departmental or company-wide touchpoints like:
All of these efforts help your staff feel like they belong to a community rather than just to a company. By having these frequent touch points in place, a real sense of family can start to develop on your team and this can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Companies that are home to thriving relationships and strong social ties typically experience much lower turnover since people don’t want to leave situations that feel good to them or that feel like home.
So as you plan out your year and evaluate your employee experience, be sure to increase your employee touchpoints and block off dedicated time for these community-building activities to happen.
Companies worldwide are starting to realize that not one size fits all when it comes to how employees want to be recognized and rewarded. Just like we have different preferences for how we like to feel loved by others, be it through words of affirmation, gifts, or quality time, the same principles apply to work life. Not all employees like to be recognized publicly by their boss; some prefer to receive it privately. And not everyone appreciates a watch or plaque to celebrate their work anniversary either. It’s time to step up the game and consider what else might work better.
When you give your employees the element of choice in how they want to be recognized and rewarded, you are essentially taking the time to get to know them and provide them with something different. This sense of genuine care and flexibility is generally well-received by staff as they feel less like a number and more like they are seen for who they are. Offering personalized rewards can make a huge difference in making your staff feel valued and ensuring that their work is being recognized in a way that feels meaningful to them.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to offering personalized rewards there are two things that we suggest.
First, spare yourself the guessing game on what’s going to work for your staff and just ask them! Survey them to find out what awards are of interest and how they prefer to be recognized so you can make sure that what you offer is going to be well-received and make them feel the most appreciated.
Second, you can save yourself tons of time by outsourcing your rewards and recognition efforts by implementing a rewards and recognition platform that’s already loaded with creative reward offerings. Tools like Bucketlist are built so that your employees can collect points when they’re recognized for project successes, milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, or other achievements. They are then given the freedom to redeem their points for the rewards that interest them the most. Rewards can take the form of extra days off, customized getaway packages, experiential rewards like sunset helicopter rides, or having the company pay for your breakfast for a week!
Building a connected culture requires a considerable amount of effort but is certainly one of the ways that you can remain competitive and hold on to your talent for years to come. We hope these 3 tactics have given you some inspiration!