Our Radically Better Organization of the Year Jostle Award celebrates customers who demonstrate amazing organizational transformation, regardless of company location, size or industry. A common theme emerged across our group of Finalists this year: the importance of connecting people in the workplace. We know from our recent exploration of the employee engagement gap that making connections to people, purpose, work, and culture are important to creating engaged employees and happy workplaces.
Each of the 10 Finalists showed us a particular strategy to build connections in their workplace. And because of this, they’re seeing improvements in communication, clarity, culture, and most of all, levels of engagement across their organizations. We call this transformational, and we’re unbelievably inspired by each of these stories. So what are their secrets to success? We’ve distilled 10 key ideas, illustrated with practical examples from each of our shining stars.
1. Keep values front and center
Find ways to help your employees understand, remember, and practice your core values. Connect these values to behavior, camaraderie, and performance. Pure crafted an internal communications strategy that rests on their core values. An important part of this strategy is detailed onboarding for new employees to understand Pure’s values, creating awareness and encouraging each new team member to align with them.
2. Create a sense of belonging for all
Everyone should feel comfortable and safe in the workplace. Help your employees feel this way by building an open and welcoming environment. To achieve this, Ricky Richards set out to create a family-like culture. Regularly sharing personal and company photos, stories, and anecdotes keeps a personal tone in their workplace. They also host regular social events that help people get to know each other in fun settings.
3. Make it easy to celebrate
Cultivating a habit of effortless recognition and celebration is key to helping employees feel appreciated. Give everyone permission to celebrate in their own unique way – and do it often! Yotel unites their young workforce with an instant peer-to-peer reward scheme and friendly internal competitions that encourage excellent customer service, product knowledge, and communication between locations.
4. Keep information flowing
Create pathways for information to move and be heard across your organization. This should include mechanisms for feedback, social sharing, and discussion, between and from all levels. Make the information accessible from work, home, and on the go. The City of Vaughan adopted a multi-media approach with their new internal communications strategy. They share things like a Monday morning critical facts news story, a weekly video employee spotlight, and a regular historical pictorial feature, to help connect and engage their dispersed municipal workforce.
5. Think of your organization as a community
A community is a place where members are supported, respected, and even loved. It’s also a place where work is unified, and goals are shared. If you think of your organization in this way, it becomes easier to forge important and supportive connections. Omicron has made great progress with turning their company into a community. Their dedicated entertainment and engagement committee ensures that regular social events, charity drives, meet ‘n greets, and the like, unite their purpose and people. They also host an annual awards event to celebrate individual and team contributions to their community.
6. Give everyone a voice
Help every member of your team contribute and stay connected. Make it easy for dispersed team members to be part of the conversation. Silvacom engages their mix of office and remote employees regularly by using online polls and surveys to gather feedback and insights. Asking staff for their opinion and suggestions makes their culture more vibrant and keeps employees talking.
7. Make mission-critical information available
Key information each person needs to do their job should be well documented, readily accessible, and clearly communicated. This clarity helps everyone keep in touch and focused on your overall mission. McFarland Clinic built a robust library to centralize and search documents required to service over 1 million patient visits each year. Employees can now confidently do their work, and deliver the quality service McFarland is respected for.
8. Challenge traditional frameworks
Sometimes stepping outside of comfortable boundaries and constraints is what people need to achieve true connection. There might be aspects of your organization that are being held back by process for the sake of process and resistance to change. The Diary decided to revolutionize their traditional meeting approach. They moved pre-meeting chatter and prep to discussion forums, and focused meeting time on critical items only, saving over 15 hours per employee per week. They’re more productive, efficient, and targeted in their communication, initiatives, and projects.
9. Hire or grow authentic, passionate leaders
Your leaders should be your key connectors. Find or coach candidates who truly care about your people and your organization. Help them understand their importance in helping teams align and find help. Morgan McKinley unites their 800+ workforce with a COO in each of their four global regions. Each of these leaders has their own flair: some engage with video, others with visible participation in social events. They all make personal connections and stay on the ground with their respective teams.
10. Make your culture visible
Deliberate expressions of your culture help people understand and connect with what matters. From office interiors, to team huddles, to the way you talk, all offer clues to what your culture is about. Exact Sciences uses storytelling to illuminate their culture and make it accessible for all. Employees act as news reporters to contribute regular updates from across their organization. This clever approach generates a rich variety of stories about the company from personal perspectives. It also keeps people invested and connected to the pulse and culture of the organization.
The connections in each of these examples were made easier with the help of the Jostle® intranet. However, it’s the leaders inside these organizations who devised these people-centric strategies and set about connecting people in their own unique way. For any of these approaches to be successful in your organization, start with people, and keep them at the center at all times.