“Communication––the human connection––is the key to personal career success.” –– Paul J. Meyer
Connection with others is a basic human need and one that is essential for lasting employee engagement. It’s the feeling that being part of your organization makes you part of a community of people who are engaged in something that’s bigger than any one person.
In the book, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement, Connection is the last key to the ENGAGEMENT MAGIC® formula, Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection. It’s the sense that a place is “special,” that you and your colleagues are a “band of brothers” who have each other’s backs unconditionally.
The sense of belonging to something beyond yourself.
The Walt Disney Company is renowned for the experience it creates for its guests at theme parks around the world. One of the reasons for that seamlessness and quality is the employees that the company calls “cast members.” With its many rules and strict appearance and behavior codes, Disney’s not an easy place to work, but it’s easy to find communities where former employees talk fondly about their time working for the Mouse. How many companies can say that?
When employees feel a deep, strong connection, they are more likely to expend extra energy for one another, to give more to the organization, and to be more positive in the things they say both at work and away from it.
How does your organization promote CONNECTION internally to build employee engagement? Here’s what some leaders and employees had to say:
Krystal Rogers-Nelson, A Secure Life
One thing that my work does that helps build connection internally is via Slack and Motivosity. We have different channels on slack to connect with people across teams; we use a lot of gifs and emojis to keep morale high and to encourage each other. It’s also a great way to share articles and best practices in our field.
Motivosity is a helpful tool that we use to recognize each other. We have Motivosity dollars we can give to our co-workers and the dollars we receive we can use to buy stuff at our company store, like hoodies, coffee mugs, concert tickets, etc. It’s a fun way to recognize each other’s birthdays, work anniversaries, and accomplishments!
Clayton Coombs, Utah Advocates
Here at The Advocates we know the importance of building human connection within the organization. For example, during the solar eclipse, our entire company went to a park to enjoy a company-sponsored lunch and the solar eclipse with all our coworkers. This was a simple activity that brought all employees together and was very beneficial for employee engagement.
Deborah Sweeney, My Corporation
Our company is big on human connection. We’ve been accused of being a 50-person family. We build this by enjoying time with each other both inside and outside of work. We have generally flexible work schedules, which allows us to interact regularly with our team members. We also do a significant amount of team building and bonding. We do theme days where we all dress alike. We have fun events around meals (potlucks, specialty drink days, etc.), and we generally create great bonds and human connections within our team.
Matt Anton, NJ SEO
Digital marketing can become extremely lonely because there can be large distances between a client or no immediate need to meet face to face. One of the best ways I’ve found to add human connection is to provide a personal, custom video for each client. Emails can often lack true meaning and sincerity, but when you are on webcam, and showing over your shoulder exactly what can be corrected, it adds a layer of humanity previously lost to cold premade packages and templates.
Within the company, we took the same approach. Although most of the team members work remote, we all hop on Skype video chats, or Facebook Facetime. It’s allowed for team members to understand they aren’t alone in trying to build a great company, but rather part of a larger team, all with the same goal. It’s much harder to tell someone you didn’t value their input via video, versus a cold email, and forces team members to work out solutions to problems, working towards the best possible course of action.
A Key Driver of Employee Engagement
As mentioned in the book, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®, Connection may be the key driver of employee engagement. Why? Two reasons. First, it’s the only element of ENGAGEMENT MAGIC® that employees project outward toward others. Meaning, autonomy, growth, and impact are introspective qualities arrived at through personal processes.
The other reason that connection is so important is that connection is the only engagement key that can directly encourage people to choose meaning, autonomy, growth, and impact. A culture that encourages engagement and communication can give employees the push they need to seize growth opportunities, choose to find meaning and impact in their work, and be more autonomous.