How to Cultivate Connection, the Key Component to Employee Engagement
If this past year has taught us anything it’s that connection is absolutely crucial. Authentic connections with the people around us: our friends, families, colleagues, employees, is the key to success in life and work. Connection helps us all to thrive.
Connection also massively drives employee engagement. In fact, without connection, improving employee engagement is just about impossible.
Authentic connection evokes feelings of belonging, safety and trust, and employees who feel connected to their organisation and line managers are more likely to feel engaged.
This is because connection creates a space for communication: employees feel they have a voice, or are able to speak to those above them because there are channels to do so. i.e management conduct pulse surveys and genuinely want to listen to their people, or at least encourage approachability amongst managers. Connection also creates unity: whether the organisation goes through change or challenging times, employees who feel connected are more likely to get behind the organisation – and in other words, engage. This connection, unity and engagement also reduces turnover of staff, and employees are less likely to stay off work.
If you’re unsure whether or not your organisation has managed to connect with your people, ask yourself these questions:
Is there a channel of communication between employees and management?
Connection seizes to exist without communication. Without communication a connection cannot be formed or maintained. Which is why the first step to cultivating connection is communicating with your people. But the kind of communication needed to form a connection, is the kind where both parties speak and both parties listen. Too often management are the speakers and the employees the listeners. It’s a traditional hierarchical system that’s really quite damaging to connection and employee engagement. True connection cannot be formed in a strict delegative environment, which is why we recommend holding out a hand to your people; let them know that you value what they have to say and are eager to listen. And the best way to demonstrate this and take action is to conduct regular pulse surveys. This way, you’re not only giving your people a voice, but committing to listening and taking action for the benefit of the entire organisation. Plus, it’s a communication channel that can be completely relied upon.
Do you and the rest of the management team have an understanding of who your people are, what they feel and what they need?
If there’s a strong connection between management and the people, managers would absolutely know who their people are, what they feel and what they need. This is one of the main reasons why managers long to build connection with their people (or atleast should want to) – it greatly helps in the decision-making process. Managers cannot make sound people-related decisions without having an idea of what their people feel and need. So if you’re struggling with employee retention, absenteeism, low engagement and motivation, perhaps your managers are making decisions based on what they think their people feel and need. The solution to this being communication: what do your people feel and need?
Do your people know their voice is valued and can they trust decisions are made with them in mind?
Hundreds of decisions are made a week within organisations – I’m sure you can attest to this. But do your people know decisions are made with them in mind. Or the real question, are they even considered at all? If you want to cultivate connection with your people they need to know they’re valued. They need to know their voice is heard and they’re important enough to have decisions made with their interests in mind. If they don’t know this, they will absolutely feel like a drop in the ocean; like the success of the organisation is not because of them, but because of management and the decisions they make. Which also means they’ll feel less likely to engage, because well, what does it matter anyway. Pulse surveys help you to demonstrate just how much you value what they have to say and shows your people that you need them in order to make decisions, and you need them to maintain and grow the organisation. This will help cultivate connection and trust, while simultaneously improving employee engagement.