According to EY’s Belonging Barometer 2.0 study, more than 80% of employees have felt or feel lonely at work. Research from The Wharton School and California State University has found that the lonelier people are at work, the worse they perform — and the less committed they are to their organizations.
Building a workplace community that is supportive and social has the potential for positive impact on both company morale and productivity. Both employees and the organizations they work for benefit.
Building community in the work environment isn’t just “nice to have.” In fact, a Microsoft report indicates that rebuilding social capital and culture as we adjust to a hybrid world is a business imperative. Dr. Nancy Baym, a researcher at Microsoft, maintains that “cultivating a culture of kindness, fun, and cooperative collaboration is just as important to the bottom line as your daily to-do list.”
What does it take to foster a sense of community at your workplace? Here we take a look at a few ways you can build community to engage employees and build a strong company culture.
Encourage Workplace Friendships
“I have a best friend at work” is one of the 12 core elements of Gallup’s widely used Q12 assessment — a tool used to measure employee engagement. Gallup’s research shows that employees who have a best friend at work are more engaged at work, significantly more productive, innovative, collaborative, and fun. In essence: workplace friendships can lead to higher engagement, retention, and loyalty.
It simply makes sense. Employees spend 40 or more hours every week on the job. Forming deep relationships with colleagues is inevitable. Having friends at work is an important way to leverage those relationships to build community.
Help Employees Create Purpose
Purpose isn’t found — it’s created. When organizations create shared goals for employees they can work together toward mutual goals, building stronger bonds in the process. To create that sense of purpose organizations should be clear about their values to help employees align their efforts and their own personal values to build community.
It’s no secret that employees have been under significant stress since the pandemic as their work and personal lives have been impacted in many ways. Employers can play an important role in helping employees learn how to practice positive self-care.
That takes a village! Sharing in activities to support and promote personal well-being can build accountability and make these efforts more meaningful. For example, cooking is often more fun with more people and demonstrates that you care about them. Physical fitness in groups also doesn’t seem like work but like a fun social event.
Sharing is caring — and a great way to promote wellness and a strong sense of community.
Celebrate Successes Together
Employees work hard — when they do they must be recognized for their efforts, individually and as part of a team.
When teams celebrate together, they share what their accomplishments have achieved for the team — and for the organization. These celebrations have an impact that extends beyond just the team involved, creating a ripple effect through the entire organization as others learn about the achievements and join in the celebration.
What gets rewarded — and celebrated — gets repeated. What a great, and fun, way to build community!
Create Opportunities to Collaborate
“Two heads are better than one,” they say, and they say it because it’s true. Collaboration creates cohesion and helps innovation thrive. When team members are encouraged to work together, cross-functionally, to solve problems and innovate new solutions, strong bonds are formed.
Encouraging employees to collaborate can help unearth fresh insights without the typical departmental baggage or process history that might exist. Employees feel freer to share — and take risks — in a team they feel a strong sense of cohesion with.
Organize Teambuilding Activities
Working together is one thing. Playing together can build even better bonds. Arranging activities for employees outside of work and the physical workplace can be a great way to help employees get to know each other better, build stronger relationships and ultimately boost employee morale.
When teammates get to know each other on a personal level, they’re more likely to have each other’s backs because they genuinely care about each other. There are a wide range of activities that can help build these bonds — from lunches and potlucks, to participating in company sports teams or attending sporting events, to taking “field trips,” having team competitions, and so much more. Solicit employee feedback for suggestions on activities they’d recommend and enjoy participating in.
Communication has always been an organizational challenge, but remote work and hybrid arrangements have made it even more so. It’s important for organizations to be mindful of the importance of communication to ensure ongoing engagement and positive connections.
When employees know what’s going on, they feel a greater sense of connection not only to each other but also to the organization. Having a consistent and constant communication stream with employees can keep those connections active. Connects makes that easy, with its Spotlight tool and “quick links” out to communication that might need to be housed elsewhere.
When employees feel connected and come together in community, it has a positive impact on both the organizational culture and the business’s health. Implementing some of these employee engagement ideas can help you create community to build — and sustain — team morale.