why connection is the core of any engagement strategy
By liz sheffield in Engagement
The topic of engagement gets a lot of press. Companies, communities, and every group in between have realized that if people aren’t engaged with your organization, you’re at risk of losing them.
At the core, engagement is all about connections. It’s about connecting employees to each other. To their team. To leaders. And, to the larger organization. I think of engagement as a pyramid, with each level building on the next. You can only reach the top—engagement with the organization—if all the other levels are in place.
Connect to each other
When I was part of large corporation, we had an annual employee engagement survey. One of the questions on the survey was, “Do you have a best friend at work?” I was lucky—I could name at least five people I considered close friends at work. These people knew about my life—in and outside of work. They were people I could ask for advice. We had similar interests, values, and approaches. I trusted them. And yes, I even referred to some of them as my BFF.
While asking about a best friend at work may seem cliché, it’s not. The first level of employee engagement begins with a connection to each other. If your employees don’t have that person-to-person connection with at least one person at work, chances are their engagement level will suffer.
Connect to the team
In the pyramid of engagement, the next level is team. When employees feel a sense of connection with their team, it contributes positively to their engagement. That sense of team doesn’t originate out of thin air. Team managers play an important role in creating an atmosphere where a sense of team exists.
Connected teams meet regularly, have established systems to communicate, receive regular feedback as a team, and are recognized and rewarded for their combined efforts. It’s hard to be disengaged when you feel connected to a group of people who are partnering with you to achieve mutually-shared goals.
Connect to leaders
Engaged employees are inspired by and feel a sense of connection to leaders. No matter the size of an organization, a connection to leadership can be created with consistent written messaging, regular town hall meetings, invitations to small Q&A sessions, or focus groups where leaders can hear from employees.
If leaders want to reap the benefits of an engaged workforce, they need to invest the time in connecting with employees. Not only will this sense of connection assist the organization during the good times, it will also create a sense of goodwill and engagement that’s required to navigate the difficult times, too.
Connect to the organization
Once people are connected to each other, to their team, and to leaders, engagement with the organization—the top of the engagement pyramid—becomes possible. With each level of engagement, you’re building trust with employees. That trust is what encourages employees to care, which in turn boosts their engagement with the organization.
If you want to retain motivated and high-performing employees, creating genuine connections—at every level—must be at the core of your engagement strategy. You can’t force people to feel engaged. But you can create an environment that provides opportunities and experiences to connect. In my experience, that’s when the magic of engagement happens.