When people spend over 40 hours each week at work, and so much of that time is with technology, it can feel like everyone has fallen into a technological, lifeless vacuum.
Oftentimes managers underestimate the power of good employee relationships – how they can bring employees up during a time of economic stress, keep employees returning to “the grind,” and improve engagement throughout the organization.
But these connections between people can falter if management doesn’t make a strategic effort to humanize the workplace and work to find spaces to strengthen employee relationships.
Connection can be an inherent part of your company culture. Here are 7 ways to create authentic people-to-people connections at the workplace.
1. Don’t forget about your remote workers. Remember them? The ones who work pretty hard, at home, on the road, and miss out on all the birthday parties, Friday afternoon yoga classes and more. Out of sight is most definitely out of mind, but remote workers can feel that disconnection, too. So call them. Make a point to set up a video conference once in a while. Keep them connected, as best you can, during the year so they become familiar faces and feel like they’re a real presence in the company.
2. Keep group sizes to a minimum. When group work balloons in numbers, many employees can get lost in the voices. The smaller the groups, the more connection.
3. Know everyone’s name, from the janitorial staff to upper management, couriers to assistants. Take the time to learn at least one or two things about each employee. Create a sense of community by recognizing the value and purpose of each employee.
4. Food is a natural gathering place. Where there’s food, there are people. So create a Friday potluck lunch club or an afternoon snack bar. Taking a break from the monotony of work to snack will bring employees together to chat.
5. Celebrate! Birthdays. Baby showers. Retirements. Achievements. Celebrate the things that make us all human.
6. If you can’t beat them … Social media is part of the fabric of our lives now, especially Millennials and iGens so making connections depends on speaking the same language – even if that language is tech. Find ways to engage with your workforce, in meaningful ways, with technology. Promote employee activism online. That might mean installing a company chat program or forming groups for different areas.
7. Keep the work environment positive! This doesn’t mean stress-free. But it means leaders model positive, constructive feedback and communication; leaders express gratitude for current performance; leaders focus on the performance, not the person. All of these are ways to build connection and boost morale.
Connections matter. Having a company strategy to build meaningful connections will make a difference in engagement. Every organization is different. So find what works for your employees and company culture. It might be anything from ComicCon movie club to Scrapbooking, a weekend hiking group to a company softball team. These relationships create community.