How to Build A CommunityOct 10, 2022
How to build community in your workplace
Unfortunately, far too many employees do not have their basic needs met in their current role. According to Gallup, an engaged employee "shows up," physically, emotionally and cognitively. They are enthusiastic about what they have to do, and they naturally find ways to improve performance and excel. In short, engaged employees generate most of the creativity, innovation and excellence in your organization.
What are the best ways to engage your employees and meet their basic needs?
Instead of improving organizational culture, managers are opting for community-oriented environments that inspire employee engagement. Managers seeking to motivate team members to connect deeper and more meaningfully may find it useful to review strategies for achieving this goal.
It wasn't until I stepped down from Southwest Airlines as a leader and worked as a consultant in other organizations that I realized how special building a community is and why I am passionate about the topic.
Why does building community matter?
Building community within an organizational structure is crucial to ensuring all internal stakeholders feel comfortable in their roles and are able to work effectively together.
Typically, workplace environments that foster community among employees have higher rates of trust, respect, empathy, and cooperation.
Companies with vibrant workplace communities have the following characteristics:
- Workers are respected and listened to
- Providing feedback and participating are encouraged
- Collaboration and teamwork are key components of success
- Tools, resources, and training are provided to employees in order to accomplish their tasks
- Each team member supports the other, and knowledge is freely shared
- Transparency and integrated communication are key
- Coworkers can socialize and connect in a relaxed, fun environment
I tried to simplify what I would do if I was building community within an organization (and I have numerous times) The following are the four steps I found helpful:
1. Communications- create enhanced communications
How - Evaluate your current communications processes and determine what strategies are working and what are not. You can then introduce tools like Slack, blogs, r Q&A sessions, and meet-and-greet events into your employee engagement strategy.
Example- Ask employees how they like to best receive information and connect with others and what tools they prefer. Once you determine the most effective tools, set up a consistent flow of information in those channels. I have seen some company’s use Slack and create channels within Slack for various needs of the community. With Slack as well as zoom or teams, the team can communicate regularly with fun light hearted comments as well as needs - it also builds trust as a consistent tool for communication.
Benefits - Enhances employees interpersonal skills by taking other perspectives into consideration and sharing viewpoints openly.
2. Connections- Create a sense of belonging among employees
How - foster employee bonding, provide platforms where employee stories can be shared about their lives, their successes, and their unique interests.
Example- Create an employee engagement journey map that outlines connections for employees from onboarding to retirement. See example below from Gallup: Make sure activities align with all areas of the journey map. Engage employees throughout the journey with pulse surveys, Q&A forums, town hall meetings, and lunch and learns. These conversations nurture connections and help build community. Even better, they can spark new ideas and innovations and are excellent ways to share knowledge. However, be willing to accept some honest feedback and even criticism. Your workplace community will be all the stronger for it.
Benefit - foster a sense of care for each individual throughout their journey
3. Create ownership of community at all levels
How - Encourage leadership, management, and employee responsibility for building community by maintaining accountability at all levels.
Example - Encourage employees to be leaders in their own communities - from organizing social events to initiating community outreach programs and everything on the employee journey.
Benefit - Employees who invest more in a workplace have a high level of commitment to the success of the community.
4. Core values, strengths and purpose - helps employees discover their why, which in turn supports their sense of belonging and value
How - Invite employees to learn and use their unique strengths, understand their core values and purpose and then connect those to the organization's values and purpose.
Example- If you are not already a strengths based organization, this is the time to start. Invite employees to take the CliftonStrengths Assessment - once I learned my CliftonStrengths®, I was able to apply my strengths to my everyday life and become more energized, productive and confident. Becoming strengths based is the foundation to building an employee base who feels they make a difference in the organization. I witnessed my co-workers, department leadership and company leadership transform in how they engaged with each other and how they connected their uniqueness to the purpose and values of the company.
Benefit- Employees feel responsible for the organization's success and follow the company's values. As a result of the development opportunities and continuous improvement of work environments offered by a community-based workplace, you can attract top talent, and drive high performance. Having been part of the Southwest Airlines community in my various roles, I have remained in touch with most of my former colleagues long after they left the company, and they are all great ambassadors for Southwest Airlines.
What is one action step you can take today to build community in your organization? We would love to hear from you at [email protected].
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