Research from Eagle Hill Consulting on the state of employee connection reveals that employees want more than strong relationships with their colleagues to feel connected—they need a sense of purpose in their day-to-day work and belonging within their organization. Organizations are wise to take this sentiment into account and develop robust employee connection strategies that improve employee connection and, in turn, business results.
As our research on employee connection shows, improving employee connection has the ability to boost job satisfaction, improve organizational culture and organizational performance, and enhance customer experience. To reap these benefits, though, organizations need to incorporate the three facets of connection into their strategy: connection to work, people, and culture. To be effective, organizations need to embrace the mindset that employee connection strategies aren’t merely about tactical solutions. They are multifaceted and grounded in the larger picture of employees’ fundamental needs.
Here are 5 steps you can take to improve employee connection:
Revisit and reimagine connection activities
Begin by taking an objective look at what your organization is doing today to foster connection among people, across day-to-day work, and to the broader organization. When you evaluate your current connection initiatives through these three lenses, you can think more holistically about them, pinpointing what’s working, what the impact of small changes might be, and where the big gaps are. Taking this blank slate view of the current state creates exciting opportunities to be more creative and gives decision-makers the “permission” they need to break away from strategies and approaches that aren’t relevant in today’s work environment.
Ask your employees what they need—and listen
Your employees know what they need to feel connected at work across all the dimensions that matter. Checking in with them through surveys and focus groups is an effective way to improve employee connection. Their feedback uncovers areas for improvement and the type of solutions that can make employees feel heard and valued by the organization. Survey results are also an excellent way to measure end outcomes and employee engagement. Rather than assessing findings en masse, assess what you learn across attributes like demographics, work location, departments, and roles.
Identify organic and inorganic opportunities to connect
Improving employee connection requires ownership and commitment by people leaders, team managers, and employees. Creating the space and opportunity for inorganic connection still requires some orchestration, particularly when employees are working remotely and are not in a shared physical space. Again, seeking employee input is key along with setting guardrails, particularly budgetary ones. When it comes to inorganic connection, initiatives led by human resources or driven by employees can be very effective.
Create a sense of purpose with a strong vision for the future
To motivate employees and make them feel more connected to their work, organizations should create or revisit their future vision. This vision should articulate why the organization exists and the impact it strives to make. Given the fast pace of societal change, it’s important to assess whether the current vision is still relevant and reset it if necessary. Resetting a future vision is complex. Organizations must balance inputs and perspectives across leaders and frontline employees, as well as across key customers, donors, and board members. Success means taking an inclusive and collaborative approach that builds buy-in and alignment throughout the journey. Strong change management and communications are key in supporting ongoing transparency.
Make the business case for investing in improving employee connection
You may find that connection initiatives are viewed as “extras” or unnecessary expenses, particularly in today’s cost-cutting climate. This is why it’s imperative to make the business case for improving employee connection to get buy-in, budget, and to encourage leaders to own the initiative. When communicating the business value, emphasize talent retention, quality outcomes, customer service improvements, improved employee morale, and greater collaboration and innovation. When it’s possible, put dollar figures on these outcomes, such as quantifying lower acquisition and hiring costs related to better employee retention.
Improving employee connection isn’t a one-and-done thing. Initiatives get stale. Workplaces and people change. It’s important to continuously evolve connection efforts so that they remain relevant. Once a year, gather feedback from employees to determine if your efforts are moving the needle towards improving employee connection by exploring the answers to three key questions: What’s working? What’s broken? Where are the gaps?