In any organisation, it is pivotal for employees to be connected to the company’s direction, values as well as each element of the business operations. Because only then, connected employees are able to contribute the most value to the organisation’s success.
So how can leaders connect employees? How can this ‘connection’, a.k.a. a high level of engagement be facilitated?
Now, what does it mean to have Connected Employees?
Connected employees are almost a must-have for companies who aspire to be successful. It is when employees are engaged with the organisation and is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work. Thus, they will act in a way that furthers the organisation’s interests and will bring both the employee and the business to new heights.
Employee connection is more than mere social engagement. It is when employees share the vision, mission and values of a company.
When the level of employee connection is high, it creates an inclusive company culture as well as a strong sense of belonging. Better yet, such company culture is infectious, and develops employees who enjoy their work, approach it with urgency, enthusiasm, and a proactive manner.
Self-Diagnosing Test for Connected Employees
To evaluate if your employees are connected, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do your employees go above and beyond to help their colleagues?
- Do your employees have an uplifting and positive attitude in their conversations?
- Are your employees dedicated to the company and bear its best interest in mind?
- Do your employees strive to better themselves and improve their quality of work?
- Do your employees have opportunities to spend time together outside of working hours, connect and get to know people from across the organization?
If you answer ‘Yes’ for all of them, CONGRATULATIONS! You have a wonderfully connected workforce in your organisation who are ready to rock-and-roll the sector you work in. If not, do not fret.
Here come some tips that will help you foster connected employees across the business!
#1. Connect by defining and sharing your company mission, vision, and values.
This is listed first because it is the one alignment that all organisations can work on.
Remember, you cannot create a connected workforce unless the employees are brought together via a common purpose that they can follow. Hence it is fundamental to promote the company vision across the organisation.
A practical way of doing this is to align employees around your vision through defining organisation objectives, or (OKRs), share and explain them to staff. This helps them to break down the BHAG into tangible steps for them to steer the organisation in the right direction too.
#2. Lead by example. Connect the employees yourself.
This is easier said than done but incredibly important.
Once you have defined and shared the purpose of your business, it is crucial to live by it every day. Always behave with integrity, transparency, and be an example to your workforce. Embody the behavior and performance you want to see in your employees.
Also, ensure your leadership and/or management does the same.
Especially as a leader, your behaviour and your words are often scrutinised and emulated by others in the organisation. So, if you want to steer the business in a certain way, behave in that way too.
Want more tips on how to lead as a leader? Find our Employee Engagement Strategies here.
#3. Give your employees the voice and autonomy they deserve.
According to Forbes, employees who feel that they are listened to are 4.6 times more likely to be motivated to do their best at work. So make sure, you encourage open and meaningful conversations across your organisation, and provide them with the right internal communication channels to bring their feedback and ideas forward.
At the same time, this can be permeated into letting employees have their chance to put forth their knowledge. Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com and tZERO, believes that the best knowledge comes from the people on the front lines. That’s why he lets the employees drive decisions and priorities, with him making little adjustments.
Don’t ever forget that, employees are a tremendous potential source of organisational improvement. And you should make it a point to regularly tap this wealth of ideas.
#4. Foster making connections across the organisation.
Effectively, this is the first step in creating a connected and collaborative workforce. Why? Because, in the long term, this allows the organisation to connect the dots, eliminate silos and break the departmental barriers that stop people from collaborating with each other.
An effective way to build connections is to create groups based on personal interests! You can bring team members as well as people from various departments together. These touchpoints harness personal connections and makes a big difference to employees’ sense of belonging and engagement.
#5.Unlock the golden opportunities for personal growth and professional development!
Increasingly, this is a major factor for the modern workforce to join an organisation, and thereby stay loyal to the organisation. Why? Because today’s workforce craves growth.
In fact, the World Economic Forum unpacked how the younger workforce is demanding more targeted employee development opportunities alongside meaningful work. That’s why it is imperative for organisations to adapt as traditional ways to developing talent may be outdated.
With companies struggling to realise that on-the-job mentoring, coaching and stretch assignments are key windows for personal growth and professional development, employees are more likely to leave when they miss out on ways to progress their careers.
For instance, an employee as gradually became a BI superstar with two-years experience on the role. Increasingly, she is finding the work to be mundane and is eager to churn through other challenges that the organisation may be facing. Currently unnoticed, disengaged and unaware of other opportunities within the company, she will most likely leave the company.
What can you do as a leader? Unlock and make those golden opportunities transparent.
Ensure that your employees are aware of the various options on how to progress in their careers within your organisation. Provide options for continuous learning, stretch assignments, and opportunities to develop new skills are equally important!
#6. Hire and grow the best talent.
In fact, this is one of the silent killers of employee engagement. This is because recruitment has been skewed externally, as organisations are often obsessed with new blood.
New blood is great, don’t get me wrong.
It can recharge the organisation with innovative ideas, unindoctrinated ways of doing things. It can do wonders. Yet, it also shows that external recruitment may be flawed as the skills-gaps cannot be closed; and that old hires are being ignored and undeveloped.
In fact, this deficiency in the recruitment process is said to be an $8.5 trillion lost economic opportunity. You can grow the best talent through development opportunities, too (re: #5)!
So next time you go hiring, make sure you look within the organisation first. There may be talent right under your nose, who possess more knowledge about the company, the industry and stronger connections.
#7. Don’t neglect the power of RnR (Recognise and Reward).
People need to feel that their work is impactful and appreciated!
Back by MIT’s research, seeing the fruits of our own labour helps us stay motivated and perform even better. However, oftentimes, this is a missed opportunity in many organisations as there is a misalignment between what employers give and what employees want – i.e. Recognition.
Therefore, ALWAYS express your appreciation for an employee’s efforts, both on an individual and a team level, goes a long way in building engagement and motivation.
It could be as easy as a short ‘thank you’ email, or sharing the team’s best results to encourage team spirit in the workplace!
Connecting Employees on the ground, is not all challenging.
All in all, showing a purpose, integrity and organisational transparency are the easiest ways to develop connected employees. Only, it is no easy task at all. The intricacies lie in having the right systems and capacity as a leader to do all of the small but important things. But it is all worth it in the end.
If you can do all of the above successfully and repeatedly, you will garner the respect and loyalty of those who report to you, which will help improve engagement and overall productivity. That is the start of creating connected employees.