“Get Social” to Increase Employee Engagement and Build Team Culture

October 25, 2023

By Theresa Harkins-Schulz
Employee communication has always been critical — and challenging — to organizations of all types and sizes. Over the past two years and counting, those challenges have escalated in an increasingly remote and hybrid work environment where employees may be scattered across multiple locations and even time zones.

Employee communication has always been critical — and challenging — to organizations of all types and sizes. Over the past two years and counting, those challenges have escalated in an increasingly remote and hybrid work environment where employees may be scattered across multiple locations, and even time zones.

In this environment, strengthening connections remains critical to maintaining community. The community provides employees with a sense of belonging and connectedness. It builds trust and relationships, and makes employees feel that “we’re all in this together.”

Social Isn’t Just “Social Media”

Social media is so pervasive today that when we talk about being “social” what often first springs to mind is social media. That’s not what we’re talking about here, though. While social media may play a role in connecting with employees on- and off-site, getting social encompasses much more. Here we’re talking about using a wide range of digital communication tools to successfully connect with, engage, and motivate employees specifically through positive feedback and recognition.

Social Recognition Is Not Just for Management

Another important point to make is that social recognition isn’t just something that managers and supervisors do. Social recognition can — and should — take place between people at all levels in the organization.

Social recognition is all about employees empowering one another by acknowledging great work, celebrating when employees go the extra mile, and applauding team achievements. Being socially recognized is very motivating, and feels good. When everyone has a chance to socially recognize each other — through tools like Inspirus® Connects, for instance — it elevates the workplace culture to be more inclusive, and more empowering!

In fact, Gallup has found through its research that “when employees are recognized in the workplace for their performance and also for their humanity, their engagement with work rises.” That’s something that all employers strive for.

Tools to “Get Social”

In the “old days” recognition often occurred face-to-face or through hand- or typewritten notes of appreciation to others. These, of course, are still valuable ways of recognizing others’ efforts. But, in an increasingly digital environment, they’re not enough. Today organizations are turning to technology options and tech-based tools to help power the process of recognizing top performers and employee achievements.

Recognition in the 21st century is digitally social, capitalizing on employees’ online behavioral habits and the technologies they’re familiar with to give employees the opportunity to easily, and seamlessly, thank and appreciate their peers.

Building community and creating a positive team culture can be greatly amplified through recognition. Bringing employees together to share in each other’s successes can be aided by a tool like Connects which allows coworkers to publicly recognize one another for their achievements and milestones, as well as to share and celebrate years of service and important life moments.

Why You Should “Get Social”

Recognition is powerful. You need only think of your own response to being recognized by others to understand how important that feedback can be. From a psychological perspective, recognition has a profound effect on the workplace. Recognition promotes others’ well-being through selfless acts.

There’s science around the impacts of recognition on our brains, bodies, and well-being. Recognition stimulates the hypothalamus and increases dopamine production. Dopamine stimulates the parts of the brain that process rewards and create emotions like satisfaction and enjoyment. In social settings, like the workplace, giving and getting recognition translates to more teamwork, improved productivity, and better communication.

Today’s environment that combines both physical and digital work settings offers ample opportunities to engage and connect with others, to share achievements, and to recognize and reward others.

Where to “Get Social”

Social recognition can take place both internally and externally. Internally through  employee engagement platforms like Inspirus Connects, and externally through a wide range of social media channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and others that employees use every day.

These channels are used in different ways. For instance:

  • LinkedIn is a great business oriented social channels where colleagues recognize each other for professional accomplishments.
  • Facebook is more socially oriented and can be used to recognize personal events and milestones—birthdays, births, and other important life events.
  • Instagram is very visually oriented and a great place to share photos and images from recognition or celebratory events — like work anniversaries or reward ceremonies.

All employees can use social channels to engage, but social recognition can be pulled all together under one employee engagement platform like Inspirus Connects. Digital platform usage is expected, especially by members of the youngest generation in the workforce — Generation Z. According to Pew Research, members of Gen Z are “digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones.”

When to “Get Social”

There are a wide range of activities, events, or triggers that could prompt employees to take a few moments to recognize their colleagues and coworkers. A few examples of employee recognition:

  • Service anniversary milestones
  • Team successes
  • Peer-to-peer thank you’s
  • Celebrations of life events
  • Company events
  • Social responsibility initiatives
  • Volunteer efforts
  • National days and weeks like Employee Appreciation Day, or Nurses Week
  • And so much more!

One great way to encourage employees to recognize and celebrate each other is to set an example yourself by celebrating them — and your own colleagues.

Recognition is for everyone. The more you can model the behaviors you’re hoping employees will emulate, the more successful you and your company can be at establishing a great team culture.