5 min read
I spend most of my work week speaking with HR leaders and despite the differences across industries and size of businesses, the message that I hear almost every day is how it is becoming more and more challenging to connect with our people. Whether employees are working in different offices across the globe, or they're on the road all day without access to a computer, one thing is clear: Connection is the fuel to better engagement.
Connection across our business units is critical
When companies make it easy for employees to connect with each other and with the vision and mission of the business, the outcomes are overwhelmingly positive:
|Connected employees are well-informed:||they know what they need to make good decisions|
|Connected employees are efficient:||they know who’s responsible for what, they can comfortably reach out to the right people for support to help solve a customer’s problem or one of their own|
|Connected employees don’t operate in a vacuum:||they know that their actions make an impact, for both the good and bad|
These are the behaviours that will fuel business success now and into the future. But time and again, the results from engagement surveys and even our event polls show that communication between leaders and their employees needs improvement, and that reaching deskless or offline workers is critical but difficult, and that keeping teams in multiple locations on the same page is proving painful.
Why? Increasingly, we're working in an environment that is dispersed, diverse and digital.
This is especially true when it comes to shifting work environments emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, where leaders need to get information to their employees quickly and efficiently. So how can you improve employees connections? Let's unpack three of these factors.
It should come as no surprise that it’s hard to connect with geographically-dispersed teams, but when you likely have employees that are working from home and new to remote work, or are still on the front lines, it’s an unavoidable pain-point for many industries.
In addition to those dispersed because of the nature of their job, a recent study from the Office of National Statistics suggested that 50% of UK workers would be working remotely by 2020. Well, we're here, and I've found that to be coming true.
And last year, the CIPD revealed that two in three professionals (68%) would like to work flexibly in a way that is not currently available.
Whether we like it or not – and whether our businesses are prepared or not – this dispersed workplace trend means employees aren’t all in the same office at the same time, or in an office at all. It’s harder to build culture and keep employees engaged and informed when they’re dispersed.
To keep employees connected:
- Create spaces and opportunities for people to connect digitally if they can’t connect physically. This may mean investing in tools that enable more video conference calls, instant messages, or blogs that are written and published by people within the business (not just HR or members of the leadership team!).
- Enable a real-time mobile app that delivers communications for those on-the-go or not at a laptop to get information to your people quickly and efficiently.
- Introduce a peer-to-peer recognition and reward programme with a rolling social recognition wall that displays accomplishments in real-time. Seeing the minutiae of everyday accomplished makes remote employees feel visible and valued, and encourages interaction by enabling employees to react to and comment on ecards and awards.
Workplaces are becoming more diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, religion and age. Even if your workforce doesn't have every single generation working in it, the likelihood is you have experienced a generational gap, with leaders or managers growing up in a different decade to those with working on the frontline or your back office.
We have grown up with very different expectations and attitudes towards their employers, different communication methods and styles, and different tools of the trade. This inevitably means needing to learn different ways that you can communicate and connect with these people.
To keep employees connected:
- Don’t wait for employees to reach milestones before you recognise their progress and contribution. The average tenure for UK employees is barely five years, meaning traditional recognition programmes that reward tenure every 10 years or so are outdated and don’t make an impact to everyday engagement, which is why it's key to move beyond years of service awards.
- You can connect a multi-generational workforce by focussing your employee engagement initiatives on programmes that deliver the innate – and universal – human needs of respect, purpose and relationship. Using strategic recognition designed for different generations to connect an individual’s everyday work to the strategic goals or values of your business means you’ll likely improve motivation and engagement across all generations.
The tech and social media revolutions have created employees who experience immediate feedback, transparency, personalised service, and abundant choice in their everyday lives.
Not only does this put pressure on employers to provide the right tools and platforms to connect and collaborate more efficiently, it also means employees have higher expectations of the experience and tools they should have at work and are also more attuned as to whether their employers deliver on their brand promise.
To keep employees connected:
- Use your HR platforms as opportunities to showcase and strengthen your employer brand, which not only enhances your Employee Value Proposition, but provides a more inviting and fun experience when your people do log in. Where possible, create a one-stop-shop where people can access everything in one place with ease.
- Providing channels that employees can access on their personal devices, where two-way interaction is built-in opens the lines of communication between leaders and employees, and provides an attractive “what’s in it for me” for logging in regularly and connecting with peers, like our Connect+ app.
These are just a few ways organisations can tap into the power of technology to build and strengthen connections between individuals, teams and leaders.
As you create opportunities and channels for people to share progress, recognise achievements, and stay informed about the business, engagement and alignment improve across more teams. What next step will you take towards improving employee connections?