How to Improve Employee Connections in the Workplace

November 01, 2022

Improve employee connection by using HR tech that connects employees to each other, the organization, and their purpose.

Blog Post

Research shows time and time again that connected employees make fewer mistakes, contribute higher quality work, are more satisfied, and are much more likely to stay at their organization for many years. And although recent reports show that employee connection and engagement is on the rise, these results don’t happen overnight and without intention. Strong workplace connections must be built and actively nurtured, with effort from both workers and the organizations that employ them. 

Employees’ expectations have changed a lot in the last few years, and they want their organizations to take the lead, but 43% say their organizations are falling short in helping them feel connected to coworkers.

Let’s explore the key components of a connected workplace and five actionable strategies for improving employee connections within your organization.

What Is a Connected Workplace? 

Connection is the glue that holds organizations together and the engine that propels them forward. But it doesn’t only refer to colleagues’ relationships. Workplace connection is threefold for employees: connection to each other; to the organization (including the mission, vision, and values); and to their own individual purpose. 

Because a truly connected workplace is multidimensional, you need the right HR tools to facilitate conversations, camaraderie, and collaboration — the elements of a connected culture.

It needs to be easy for employees to find common ground with each other, HR, and leaders in the organization. But, in a practical sense, a connected workplace is also the culmination of streamlined workflows, collaboration tools, open lines of communication, and unified systems. Without modern HR technology, a truly connected organization is out of reach.

When organizations create a connected employee experience, they see improved productivity, retention, engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. And these metrics are the building blocks of larger organizational outcomes, such as profitability. 

The Importance of Connection in the Workplace

Workplace connection plays an important role in employee well-being and retention, as disconnected employees report higher anxiety, depression, burnout, and stress. They're also three times more likely to quit. Therefore, attracting, engaging, and retaining employees depends on employee connectedness. In fact, 77% of employees say their relationships with their colleagues are a key indicator of job satisfaction. If your organization is lacking, the costs can be astronomical. 

Every time an employee leaves, an organization can find itself in a battle against declining morale, lost customers, or even negative perceptions of leadership or the organization. And the literal price? It’s estimated that losing an employee costs the company 1.5-2x that employee’s salary.

Connection extends to operations as well, going hand in hand with communication and collaboration. Without all three, your business is less productive and runs less smoothly, so improving connection in the workplace should be a top priority. 

5 Ways to Improve Connection in the Workplace

The Great Resignation and “quiet quitting” movements have shown employers that their workforces are, in fact, willing to leave. Forty percent of employees surveyed in 2022 said it’s at least somewhat likely they will leave their jobs in the next 3-6 months. So, organizations need to pivot from quick fixes like bonuses or free coffee to what employees need more than anything: connection.

These are five proven ways that outline how organizations can build connections with employees.

1. Encourage and Embed Peer Recognition

More than 60% of employees in the U.S. are lonely, according to a 2020 Cigna study, and lonely employees are less productive, costing organizations an average of $4,200 per year in lost workdays. While connections to HR, leadership, and the organization are vital, employees need to connect with each other to stay motivated. 

Regularly celebrate personal and professional wins. Encourage employees to call out successes in real time and keep these acknowledgments as a record of their greatest achievements. This empowers employees to be active participants in your workplace culture, increasing satisfaction and reducing turnover. 

Invest in dedicated peer recognition tools so your employees can easily give and receive appreciation. This helps everybody feel a sense of belonging, fuels connection, reduces loneliness, and boosts productivity. Employees who embrace peer recognition are changemakers, enthusiastically bringing their coworkers into the fold and fostering workplace connection.

2. Decrease the Digital Divide in Remote and Hybrid Workplaces

Many workers want remote and hybrid work environments. And 76% of employees say a shift to hybrid work environments improved their organization’s culture. 

But without the daily social events like water cooler chats, break room conversations, and spur-of-the-moment happy hour outings, connection can dwindle or even disappear. 

Organizations with hybrid or remote workspaces need to be intentional and creative about providing opportunities for connection, and HR technology that offers connection-building capabilities can help. 

Use HR tech to create immersive, high-touch experiences to engage remote employees. Your HCM solution should be able to convey warmth, excitement, and depth of connection across your organization, whether employees are onsite or working from home. Here are some examples of how you can leverage HR tech to build connection in any type of workplace:

  • Start with personalized welcome videos during onboarding.
  • Create digital discussion groups centered around teams for easy communication between supervisors and teammates.
  • Continue building connection through employee community groups centered on interests, like fitness fans or avid bakers.

These tactics don’t need to be limited to hybrid environments either. These same engagement strategies can apply to deskless employees who spend most of their time in the field, or to connect employees who may not work the same shift or season. The intent is the same: create connections in the workplace for employees who may not often share the same physical space.

3. Give Employees a Voice

Employees are more likely to feel connected to their organizations when it’s clear their input is not only welcomed but also valued. 

Employee surveys provide an avenue for individuals to speak up and be heard.  They can serve a wide range of purposes, from gathering ideas for the upcoming team lunch to an automated 90-day check-in with a new hire. Be intentional about proactively and regularly reaching out to your employees to solicit feedback. And once you’ve gathered the feedback, be sure to act on it where you can so your employees feel like their voice matters.

What’s more, regularly leveraging surveys enables your organization to gather insights about systemic issues with employee engagement, identify winning retention strategies, encourage bright new ideas, and more. You can find out why employees stay, what they need to feel more satisfied, and how to improve the company culture — all you have to do is ask.

4. Centralize and Open Lines of Communication

Employees want intuitive and accessible communication channels that work for them. Think mobile capabilities, video, and social media-esque communication hubs that they don’t have to learn because it’s already familiar. Communication should work on their schedule and wherever they go, so utilize channels they can check while waiting in line for their latte or after pulling into the parking lot to pick their kids up from school. 

Invest in communication platforms that integrate essential communication — organization updates, file sharing, and messages from the CEO — and opportunities to connect on a human-to-human level. Communication should also be bi-directional, so everybody can participate.

Paylocity’s Community is a communication network that offers chat features, file sharing, and a company-wide feed. Not only does it connect people to each other, but it also connects people to the organization with all mission-critical information in one place. Ask the Expert groups, which you can customize based on subject matter, eliminate tedious email chains and allow employees to go straight to the source. Plus, in-house experts can showcase their skills in these groups and provide learning and development support to their peers, which fosters connection. 

One of the best ways to improve connection at your organization is to have your leaders champion connection from the top down. 

Paylocity’s Data Science team examined usage data from Community to measure the impact of leadership on employee engagement. The results were conclusive: Executives who engaged with employees on Paylocity’s Community platform through video posts, comments, emojis, and more saw 15-25% lower voluntary turnover, 24% higher headcount, and 70% more return on investment with their HCM tools.

When leadership activates connection across the organization, employees follow suit, and the benefits for the organization are substantial.

Improving Connection with HR Technology 

There are a variety of strategies for improving connection in the workplace, and HR tech can be an essential partner for executing these tactics.

Paylocity’s all-in-one HR and payroll solution includes a comprehensive suite of employee experience tools, all designed to strengthen the connections between your organization and employees. 

Learn more about how Paylocity can help HR pros foster the connections that employees need to stay engaged, satisfied, productive, and loyal to your organization.

Reach Your Workforce Wherever They Are

We all want to get more done with less email and fewer meetings – yet reaching a workforce, whether they're remote, on-site, or hybrid, can be tricky. Improve communication, enable engagement, and connect all your employees with Community. This modern social collaboration tool allows your workforce to access newsletters, policies, and emergency updates, while also giving a central hub for your employees to come together.

Connect Employees
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