The Great Resignation is no longer the most pressing personnel issue facing organizations right now – it’s the loss of employee connection that came with the rise of remote and hybrid work. With 69% of employees reporting that they no longer feel a strong sense of connection to their coworkers, it’s time to stop focusing on the symptom of employee departures and start focusing on the root cause: low motivation and a lack of workplace interaction.
RedThread Research dove into this topic in a recent episode of its Workplace Stories podcast with HR thought leader and University of Michigan business school professor, Dave Ulrich. In the episode, Ulrich and the podcast hosts explored this loss of human interaction and how organizations can better connect employees to one another and the organization. They also discussed the role leaders must play in what they dubbed the “Great Reconnection.”
This episode deeply resonated with us. Connection – and helping our customers foster and grow relationships among their employees – is our focus and passion. We believe that connection and productivity go hand in hand. In fact, 84% of employees find it easier to do their best work when they feel close to the team they’re working with.
Without connection and interaction, employees feel like they don’t belong. And when employees suffer, productivity and performance suffer, too. Clearly, it’s time for business leaders to help employees find their purpose and connection to work.
3 strategies to foster connections and inspire productivity
In the current environment, trust and connections are harder than ever to build. But to improve employee happiness, productivity and retention, business leaders need to inspire trust and cultivate a sense of belonging.
Here are three tips for fostering connection based on strategies we use to motivate employees at Enboarder:
1️⃣ Implement a mentorship and buddy system
Work friends are essential to employee happiness and retention. You can help employees nurture these valuable relationships by creating mentorship and buddy programs. Mentorship helps all employees – but especially remote workers – network and thrive not only at your organization, but throughout their careers.
At Enboarder, we believe that everyone on the team (not just the manager) should play a role in training new hires. This collaborative process brings training to life and enables the new hire to connect with their team right away. We also pair new hires with a buddy who recently went through the same workflow and training. With a buddy, new employees can more quickly get up to speed and build friendships that make them feel at home in the organization.
2️⃣ Provide support for managers
“The Great Reconnection” podcast highlighted the importance of managers and the role they must play in building relationships – a philosophy we also value. Managers can no longer exclusively focus on workflows and bandwidth – their role needs to go much deeper. They have to be caregivers and help employees manage the fatigue associated with remote work and uncertainty. But before managers can care for their reports, they need to care for themselves. This is where you can step in to better support managers in their efforts.
It’s not surprising that half of managers (50%) say they struggle to provide enough connection for their team. Managers can’t encourage connection if they don’t have the right tools and strategies. Providing strong management support and training to your managers can help improve employee engagement and foster trust in leadership.
3️⃣ Prioritize connection before, during and after onboarding
Connections are critical during and after the onboarding process – and even before an employee’s first day. Many remote and hybrid workers miss and crave connection, so you need to go the extra mile to cultivate a sense of belonging. For example, a welcome package to excite new employees before their first day is a good start – but don’t stop there.
In the podcast, Ulrich highlighted the need for business leaders to continually check in with employees to see how they’re doing – a practice we also live by. These conversations should go beyond work topics to connect with employees as people. Employee well-being check-ins can also help you determine if employees feel supported and what they might need to bring their best selves to work. Show employees how committed you are to fostering connections by enabling access to business leaders and continually checking in with them throughout their time at your organization.
Inspire a sense of community
Connections drive organizations – without them, employee happiness, motivation and productivity are at risk. Instead of worrying about the Great Resignation, consider the “Great Reconnection” highlighted by the RedThread Research podcast and how you can bring your people back together.
Implementing mentorship and buddy programs, improving support for your managers and sparking connections through every stage of employees’ careers can help your people feel like they belong to a community at work – instead of feeling like another cog in the machine. And when your employees experience a sense of belonging and purpose, your organization ultimately benefits from increased productivity and retention.