November 7, 2023
Employee connection is an often overlooked aspect of work. However, employee connections are key to creating a motivated, engaged, and productive workforce. A workplace filled with strong and meaningful connections will work better together, be more innovative, collaborative, and will ultimately be a better workplace.
That said, connecting with employees and fostering employee connection are something that many struggle with. According to a recent Gallup poll, over half of employees in the US are not engaged and connected at work. So if you feel like you struggle connecting with employees, remember that you’re not alone.
In today’s article, we’re going to help you foster employee connection at work. We’ve put together 12 ways to connect with employees to help you learn how to improve connection in the workplace. By the end, you should be able to use these strategies to foster employee connection and create the workplace you want.
12 Ways to Connect with Employees
Before getting started, it’s important to note that connection at work will always vary from workplace to workplace. Every business, team, and employee is different. While these strategies and tips are fairly universal, always be sure to keep your specific context in mind.
You may need to alter or implement these ideas differently to fit your needs. Certain strategies work better in certain situations or groups of people. Just remember to consider your context when making any decisions or changes.
Without further adieu, let’s look at 12 ways to connect with employees.
1. Communicate Openly and Regularly
As always, communication is one of the most important things you can do to foster connection. Effective communication lays the groundwork for deeper connections and relationships. If you and your employees can’t communicate effectively and freely, you’ll never be able to build strong connections.
Encourage open and honest communication. Make sure people have their voices heard and won’t be chastised for bringing up mistakes, flaws, or ideas. Promote an open door policy for improved connection, and leverage various communication channels to enhance employee connections.
If you can create a workplace where people feel comfortable voicing their opinions, sharing their thoughts, and communicating with those around them, building connections becomes much easier.
2. Listen Actively
Tying into communication, you also should put a focus on active listening. To put it simply, active listening is about genuinely listening to what someone else has to say and trying to understand what they’re saying—instead of just waiting for your chance to respond.
Actively listening is incredibly important to team member connections for a few reasons. First, it shows that you actually care what they have to say. You aren’t just waiting to make your argument or get your point across; you’re truly interested in what they have to say.
Secondly, active listening allows for a deeper understanding of others and their thoughts, which in turn helps foster connections. With a better understanding of those around you, you can start building stronger relationships at work.
3. Empower Employees
While this advice may sound a bit vague, it can actually have a huge impact on employee connection. At its core, empowering employees is about giving employees the freedom to make their own decisions and take action. So how does that help?
Empowering employees has a bunch of benefits, one of which is confidence. Giving employees the ability to make decisions, learn from them, and have their victories can be a huge confidence booster. That can help employees be more comfortable around their coworkers.
On top of that, it also shows employees that you trust them and have confidence in them. And as expected, that can help build stronger relationships in the workplace.
4. Recognize and Appreciate Contributions
Recognition is something that many employers ignore, but that can be a huge mistake. Recognizing your employees, celebrating their victories, and appreciating their contributions is one of the most important parts of building connections.
Just like employee empowerment, recognition shows you care. Employees want to be recognized for their work, and taking the time to do so shows that you truly value and care about them.
Going further, it also helps create a more positive work environment. Building connections is much easier when you’re in a welcome, accepting, and supportive environment. So don’t be afraid to let your employees know how much they matter and how good of a job they’re doing.
5. Foster a Collaborative Environment
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that collaboration can help foster employee connection. Working together is a great way to bring people together, develop relationships, and build a better team.
There are lots of ways to create a collaborative environment. Encouraging teamwork is an easy start. Referencing the last point again, be sure to recognize employees for their teamwork as well.
Normalizing asking for help is a great start too. Make it known that asking for help is not a weakness, but rather a strength. This will be its own point later on, but lead by example and show employees that asking for help from those around them is normal and something that everyone does.
6. Emphasize Inclusion
Putting a focus on inclusion is pretty self-explanatory, but it is an important part of fostering employee connection. It’s easy for people to get left out or excluded, especially in larger workplaces or teams. But putting an emphasis on including can help ensure everyone feels connected.
Inclusion can help build connections on its own. People work and talk to people they may not usually, and that can lead to new relationships. Everyone is different, and we can all learn something from each other. Inclusion will help foster more understanding, resulting in more connections.
7. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Being engaged and feeling connected at work plays a big role in fostering employee connections. And one of the best ways to help employees feel like they matter at work is with professional development opportunities.
Corporate training programs and other development opportunities help in numerous ways. To start, they help better employees’ skills—which can make them more confident. They also show employees that you care about them, increasing connection. And they can serve as an opportunity to bond and grow alongside their fellow employees, building even more connections along the way.
8. Support Work-Life Balance
We all know how stressful an unhealthy work-life balance can be, and it can directly hinder the ability to develop connections. When you’re tired and frustrated, you probably won’t be in the mood to work together with others and build relationships.
That means you need to go out of your way to promote and support healthy work-life balance. Respect your employees’ hours and time off; give them the space they need when they need it; educate them about the resources available to them; encourage employees to “unplug” and take mental breaks; and check-in with your employees regularly to see how things are going.
9. Promote Employee Wellness
As with work-life balance, employee wellness can be a big factor for employee connection. Again, employees who are tired, burnt-out, and stressed are going to have a much harder time connecting with others.
Employee wellbeing initiatives are a good way to promote employee wellness. Just taking the time to focus on employees and their wellness goes a long way in showing that you care. And you’ll also help employees feel better, enabling them to better connect with their coworkers.
And if you’re more focused on the bottom line, employee wellness has other benefits such as increased retention, reduced absenteeism, and improved organization reputation. So don’t underestimate the importance of employee wellness.
10. Create Social Bonds
Arguably the most straightforward way to foster employee connection is by creating social bonds. When your team members do things together that help them create social bonds, they are also building connections that will spill over into work.
Team bonding is a great way to create social bonds amongst employees. Events like The Prosthetic Hand Project or The Donation Station will help your team members build bonds and develop lasting connections. And you get to do that while having fun and helping out those in need as well, creating even deeper connections.
11. Lead by Example
This is one of the most important tips/strategies on this list. As a leader, you have to lead by example. Employees follow their leaders, and if you don’t walk the walk, employees won’t either. For nearly every point on this list, you can take the first step and show employees how it’s done.
For example, inclusion. Start by making sure everyone gets invited to meetings and has a turn to speak up. Or another example, work-life balance. Show employees that you value your own work-life balance, and they will do the same.
You can’t expect people to do as you say when you do the opposite. So lead and be someone employees can look at as an example of how things should be done.
12. Measure and Adapt
Last but not least, you need to measure the effectiveness of your efforts and adapt as necessary. As we mentioned at the start, every workplace is different. You need to keep track of your efforts and assess how effective they’ve been. If you find ways to improve, implement them. Don’t just follow advice and expect it to work; you need to actively monitor how things are going and make changes as needed.
Employee Connections with TeamBonding
Employee connections lay the groundwork for a healthy and productive workplace. A well connected workforce will be more engaged, motivated, and ultimately productive. As a leader, you need to prioritize employee connection and utilize the strategies listed above to foster employee connection.
Start building employee connections with TeamBonding. We have over 20+ years of experience in corporate events, and we have a range of events perfect for building connections. So get in touch with us and start bringing your employees together!