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Blog·Performance Management

January 20, 2020

Connected Employees: 10 ways to connect with your team

Connected employees are a must-have for companies that want to be successful in 2020. Find out how to create a culture of belonging in your organization.

The chances are that if you are an HR enthusiast, an aspiring entrepreneur or a devoted manager you already came across the HR 2020 trends. The main takeaway? Holistic HR and connected employees. How? Through an effective use of innovative technologies that focus on making businesses more ‘human’ and promote a culture of belonging.


What are Connected Employees?

“Connection is an intuitive sense of belonging. Connection is the difference between I am and we are.” - Ari Kopoulos

It can be said that a connected employee is an engaged employee. An “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests].

According to Gallup’s 2017 report, only 15% of employees are engaged in their work, and in the US alone, disengaged employees cost approximately $ 450-500 billion yearly. At the same time, companies with an engaged workforce are 21% more profitable and have four-times larger revenue growth. With this in mind, the importance of connecting with employees is un-questionable.

Connected Employees - Fact

On the contrary, based on the latest ADP report, employees are increasingly showing a greater commitment to their current roles and more often intend to stay in their organization for the rest of their life. This can be the consequence of more businesses focusing on employee engagement and positive employee experience than in past. The connection between these companies, is often that their workforce describes their company with one common word; “family”.

Employee connection is more than just social engagement. It is a shared vision, mission, and values of a company. Employee connection creates a company culture that is not only inclusive but also provides a true sense of belonging and promotes progressive ideas, innovation, and thus business growth. Such company culture is infectious and develops employees that enjoy their work, approach it with urgency, enthusiasm, and in a proactive manner.

Connected Employees - what are connected employees

You might be asking, how do we create such a workforce? The first step is to assess the levels of connection of your employees to each other as well as your business. Luckily for you, there are some common characteristics of connected employees.

Common characteristics of connected employees:

To evaluate if your employees are connected ask yourself these 5 questions:

  • Do your employees go above and beyond and step up to help their coworkers? Do they have each other's backs?
  • Do your employees have an uplifting and positive attitude in their conversations?
  • Are your employees dedicated to the company and bear its best interest in mind?
  • Do your employees strive to better themselves and improve their quality of work?
  • Do your employees have opportunities to spend time together outside of the working hours, connect and get to know people from across the organization?

Connected Employees - are your employees connected


Where did the connected employees come from?

The digital revolution and the constantly evolving landscape of the 21st century are behind the growth of the connected employees phenomenon. Humans are increasingly relying on technology and mobile devices with their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. As a result, many companies aggressively invest in digital technologies to establish employee connection.

However, as Microsoft stated, one of the greatest misconceptions of digital transformation is that technology plays the main role. It does not. Technology is the tool but the people should be the focus of the innovation.

Connected Employees - where did the term connected employees come from


Connected employee experience

As said before, an engaged employee is a connected employee. An engaged employee is connected to their company, role, and colleagues. They encounter positive experiences at their workplace and perceive it as a stimulating and fun environment.

According to Ari Kopoulos there are four main aspects to creating connected employee experience. These include;

Leadership

  • Competent leadership that leads by example and embodies the organizational values is key to driving engagement across the organization.

Development

  • Effective development requires adoption of a growth mindset across the organization. This means providing sufficient opportunities to develop new skills. This should include training resources, coaching, mentoring and a proactive HR team managing and communicating these initiatives across the organization. initiatives across the organization.

Recognition

  • Employee recognition is a necessity to motivating employees and keeping them engaged. Hence, it is vital to implement tools and processes to recognise and reward the efforts and achievements of the staff. Leadership, management and HR should facilitate and encourage the use of relevant tools to promote a culture of recognition across all levels of the business.

Culture

  • Integrity, transparency, inclusion and a clear and shared vision are fundamentals to creating a company culture of belonging people crave these days. Do not underestimate the importance of developing an open and honest environment that promotes collaboration and cherishes growth and creative ideas.

    Connected Employees - how to create a connected employee experience


10 ways how to make employees feel connected

In this section we discuss how can we make the workplace more connected, how to connect employees with each other, HR and management.

Connected Employees - 10 ways to make your employees feel connected

1. Define, share and live by your company mission, vision and values

You cannot create a connected workforce unless your employees have a common purpose to share and follow. Hence, it is fundamental to promote the company vision across the organization. An effective way to do so is to share the vision, mission and values in an easily accessible platform. The next step is to share organizational objectives with your employees so they can align their individual goals to them.

Empower every person in the organization to achieve more. There is no one-size-fits-all tool or strategy for digital transformation. Therefore, it is important to dedicate time and effort into defining the main objectives for your ideal team management tool and the objectives it needs to meet.

Connected Employees - define, share and live by your company mission, vision and values

2. Lead by example

Once you have defined and shared the purpose of your business, it is time to live by it day by day. Always behave with integrity, transparency and be an example to your workforce. Embody the behaviour and performance you want to see in your employees. Also, ensure your leadership and/or management does the same.

Connected Employees - lead by example

3. Give your employees a voice

According to Forbes, employees who feel they are listened to are 4.6 times more likely to be motivated to do their best at work. Make sure you encourage open and meaningful conversations across your organization. Provide your employees with accessible internal communications channels to voice their opinions and ideas about the performance of the business.

Connected Employees - give your employees a voice

4. Hear what your employees are actually saying and act on it

The most valuable piece of advice I got at my first job? Never assume anything. Especially now, when you can easily collect and measure data to help your decision making. Do you regularly conduct employee engagement surveys? Do you encourage regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings? Do you listen to, measure and most importantly act on what your employees have to say?

Pay attention to employee feedback (employee surveys, sentiment surveys, etc.) and consider the new trends and design solutions to enhance customer experience, and also to grow your business. Therefore, you should identify and focus on the moments that matter to your employees, and implement tools that will help you evaluate their performance and create positive employee experiences.

Connected Employees - hear what your employees are saying and actually act on it

5. Embrace random connections

Create groups based on personal interests. This is an effective way how to connect with team members as well as people from different departments. The young generation entering the workforce wants a modern, inclusive environment.

Technology can make new hires feel like instant team members. Make sure you put in place a platform where employees can join clubs/teams/communities and find like-minded individuals from outside their teams and departments. The best ideas have been proved to be born from a collaboration of individuals with different backgrounds.

Connected Employees - embrace random connections

6. Hire the best talent

I cannot stress enough that there is never one-size-fits-all solution to anything, which is also true when it comes to hiring the right employees. Each and every company needs something completely different. A star employee in one organization might not necessarily be equally as successful in another company or even a team. The individual experience, interests, personality and values of your potential best talent need to be in sync with the purpose of your company and what it stands for.

Another important factor is to acknowledge that you do not know everything. Always listen to your employees who might know better than you do. You simply cannot be an expert in everything. Thus, it is vital to surround yourself with people with different strengths, who are experts in what they do. Additionally, inspire your staff to learn, admit they might not always have the right answers and even fail.

Connected Employees - hire the best talent

7. Foster a culture of employee recognition

Foster a culture that invites experimentation, supports and rewards employees for trying out new ideas. In this kind of culture, employees are ready to reassess, adjust and try again.

Use software to encourage your employees to recognize each other’s achievements, celebrate, share and even award them.

Connected Employees - Foster a culture of employee recognition

8. Help every employee reach their goals

Inspiring your employees to set and attain individual goals is a great way to motivate them and help them develop. Setting SMART goals is a great way to set goals that are specific, measurable and relevant to your employees as well as the business. You can find some useful ideas to inspire you here. Regular check-ins and progression checks will help you evaluate the performance of your employees and ensure any potential challenges or areas of improvement are addressed in a timely manner.

Connected Employees - help every employee reach their goals

9. Encourage personal and professional development

Similarly, ensure that your employees are aware of the various options on how to progress in their careers within your organization. Providing options for continuous learning and opportunities to develop new skills is equally as important.

Connected Employees - Encourage Personal and Professional Development

10. Get involved in everyday business

Get involved. Interfere in the day-to-day actions of your business. Talk to your employees. Talk to employees from every level of your organization. Explore other topics than work.

Try to get to know the people who work for you. What are they interested in? What do they do outside of work? Getting to know your employees will not only show that you care about the people who work for you but it also might expose you to skills and knowledge you did not even know you had in the business.

Your company began with a vision that brought together a collection of people to create something of value for your customers. Cherish that vision and continue to communicate it to your (hopefully) growing team. Showing a purpose, integrity and transparency is the easiest way to develop connected employees. Only it is not that easy at all.

Connected Employees - Get involved in everyday business


How do leaders connect with employees - 3 ways to success

According to CMS WiRE these are the proven ways to implement by leadership to connect with the employees.

1. Align employees around your vision

Culture is essential to engage employees and to attract and retain exceptional talent. Define key organizational objectives (OKRs), share and explain them to your staff.

2. Create a two-way connections

Do you have a global workforce? A high number of outsourced services or suppliers? Do you have an effective process in place to manage your employees and teams? Do your employees and partners have an effective way to keep track of your expectations and their performance? If not, you should put in place tools to manage these.

3. Spark innovation and ideas

One of the main challenges for today’s leaders is to keep conversations with their employees going. An effective way to do so is to provide your employees with a place where your employees can share and discuss ideas.

Connected Employees - How can leaders connect with their employees


I hope you enjoyed this article and that these tips will help you develop connected employees in your company. However, remember you cannot trick connection. The route to success is transparency, integrity and actually caring for your employees.

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