Connected Employees: How Leaders Can Connect With Employees

If not the single most important, one of your organization's most important assets are your employees. But let's take that a step further: your most important assets are your connected employees. Considering that 71% of executives say that engaged, connected employees are essential to their success; your workplace cannot afford to have disengaged employees. Speaking along the lines of the cost of disengagement, it's extremely important that your leaders can connect with their employees at all levels. From communication to motivating their teams and giving them opportunities to provide feedback and make sure their voices are heard, you can't overstate how essential it is that leadership and team members need to have a strong connection. 

A Better Leader specializes in helping multiple organizations improve employee engagement and retention and support union-free workplaces. We've identified a common pain point coming from supervisors and managers alike: their leaders need help building strong connections with employees. When your leaders struggle to connect with their employees, you're more likely to find disengaged employees. This doesn't have to be an issue you struggle with forever. 

We'll cover what connected employees are and how to create them, why it's important to form connections with your employees, and how you can use personal interactions to create connected employees and ensure your leaders have the knowledge, skills, and tools to be able to connect with employees at all levels.

"As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection." - Adam Neumann

What Are Connected Employees? 

Simply put, a connected employee is an engaged employee. As mentioned in the Adam Neumann quote above, in our increasingly digital world, the need for human connection - both in and out of the workplace - is still just as important as ever. Employee connection is a simple concept, but it isn't necessarily as straightforward as it sounds. All social connections in the workplace are important, but, arguably, the most crucial is the connection between leadership and employees, and it ultimately begins when the employee onboarding process begins. Focusing on a strong company culture where employees feel valued and respected immediately upon being hired is a critical step to creating connected employees from the start.  

According to research by Bersin, companies with highly engaged and connected workers were able to lower employee turnover by 31%. Considering the cost of employee turnover (some replacement estimates are as high as double the initial salary of the employee!), you simply can't afford not to place focus on a strong team connection in the workplace. Creating opportunities for leaders to bring employees together is also an important focus since it will build stronger bonds between all levels of leadership and employees alike. We'll cover why it's so important to connect with your employees and even some of the ways your leaders can form connections and foster a positive workplace culture.

connected employer and employees

Why Is it Important to Connect With Employees?

Simply put, connected employees will be more invested in their jobs and are more likely to be satisfied with the work they are doing. As Jostle explains, "making connections to people, purpose, work, and culture are important to creating engaged employees and happy workplaces." You may be wondering how to bring employees together and create connected employees in your own organization. In today's climate, you and your leaders may be dealing with connecting a remote workforce, which can make the task even more difficult. However, it doesn't have to be a daunting task.

Here are 5 ways you can connect your team members:

  1. Keep communication lines wide open between leadership and team members. Maintaining an open-door policy where employees feel their voices are always being heard is a critical step in deepening employee connection.
  2. Ensure your leadership team is frequently requesting feedback from employees, whether positive or negative, to address issues and celebrate wins.
  3. Keep your company culture and values front and center at all times, especially during the hiring process. Great company culture plays a significant role in employee engagement. It also "positively impacts business growth, longevity, and results."
  4. Build a culture where empathy and servant leadership are the norm. When your employees know that leaders will listen intently, have a positive attitude, and know that they truly care about all team members' health and well-being, this will have a tremendously positive impact.
  5. Invest in your employees and give them plenty of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Offer a multitude of leadership training opportunities. Not only will your employees be able to envision a future for themselves within your company, but they will also get the chance to expand on their skills and potentially be connected employees that turn into connected leaders themselves!

Using Personal Interaction to Create Connected Employees 

The best way to build any relationship is with an investment of time. That may be through phone calls, face to face or video conference meetings, or any number of ways to interact. However, without an intentional investment of time towards relationship-building, genuine connections will never materialize. Leaders can't view the time spent building those relationships as a waste of time. Asking a personal question about values, abilities, and passions to begin a meeting might be a great place to start.

Not all of these planned connections and interactions have to take place at work, however. Leaders often connect with their team members outside of work as well. Perhaps through office parties or simple invitations to watch a show or game as a group after work occasionally. The critical thing to note is that most planned connections and time spent making a closer connection to your team members is time well spent. Of course, in today's climate, this may prove to be a bit more difficult than it has been in recent years, but it's not impossible. Through the use of social media and Zoom meetings, you can still find ways to stay in communication with employees, play virtual games, and get creative to create genuine connections

A positive relationship with their boss or manager is essential to employees, and a lack of it is one of the most sure-fire ways to end up with high turnover issues. Harvard Business Review encouraged their readers to "consider what you don't know about the coworkers you see every day — What motivates them? Why did they join the company? What do they hope to accomplish in the future? — and set aside time to find out."

Understanding team members' abilities and values, as well as relevant facts about their personalities, will help you connect them to the mission your company has entrusted you to achieve. You cannot do it alone, and you cannot do it with a disconnected team.
How To Bring Employees Together

Training Your Leaders to Connect with Employees

If your organization's managers need to foster and strengthen their connection skills, our A Better Leader lesson titled "Connected Employees" is the perfect solution! Your leadership team will come away with a stronger understanding of the importance of employee connection, along with the necessary expertise to retain team members and positively impact the bottom line. You can schedule a free demo or sign up for a 14-day trial to get started with your first training today. Help your leaders gain the knowledge they require to be able to connect with team members at all levels!

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About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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