In order to feel as though we’re valued, respected, and making a contribution, we need to feel like we’re part of a community. Whether it’s a community of neighbors, volunteers or coworkers, building a strong sense of community brings clarity of purpose to the groups we belong to. In this article we showcase five different ways to build and celebrate community in your workplace.
An organization called The Community Roundtable has been surveying community managers for five years, and freely distributing what they learn about how to successfully grow and sustain communities. They recently published their annual research report, The State of Community Management, which outlines and explores “the differentiators that make ‘best-in-class’ communities successful.”
We recently explored the key findings from this study that are relevant to internal employee communities. Most notably, best-in-class communities have a shared sense of value. They plan events, organize team members, and set goals. These communities have high degrees of leadership participation and a commitment to feedback. They’re also very attentive to the needs of new community members.
Overall, best-in-class communities are deliberate in their community building initiatives. In our annual Jostle Awards program, we have a category dedicated to the efforts of customers who demonstrate the characteristics of best-in-class communities. This award recognizes and celebrates the organizations with the most creative and deliberate initiatives to build community using their Jostle® intranet.
Our Finalists in the Community Building Initiative of the Year category not only developed a strong sense of community within their own organizations, but many also gave back to the communities around them. Here are five simple strategies that these outstanding organizations used to build community:
1. Give news of everyday office happenings a fun twist
In The City of Waterloo office, employees took news of a lounge chair gone missing and turned it into a missing person’s ad on their Jostle NEWS view. They provided details as to where the chair was last seen, what it was “wearing” and even provided a reward for its return. The post received more comments and engagement than any NEWS article they had posted to date and banded employees together. What started out as a fun, playful search turned into a series of “sightings” of the chair and its new friends made along its “round the world journey”. These activities bridged departments and added a sense of humor across the organization, enriching the City of Waterloo community.
2. Organize company-wide philanthropic initiatives
When the month of November rolled around, Milgram & Company Ltd. used the changing season as an opportunity to start a company-wide “Movember” fundraising effort. Nicknaming their team “Mo-Freight,” based on their work in the freight forwarding and ground transportation industry, Milgram employees asked their Jostle administrators for some creative license to use the platform for a good cause. They created the “Mustache Me” fundraiser. For a small donation, employees could have a mustache added onto the face of a colleague’s Jostle intranet profile picture.
The response was overwhelming, with over 250 profiles mustached over the course of November. Even though the charitable lip toupees were removed from the photos at the end of the month, a fresh sense of community and common purpose among Milgram employees remained. This is just one of many initiatives driven home by this team of difference-makers who put their corporate values into practice through community building activities, with clear benefits in- and outside their organization.
3. Celebrate anniversaries with unique events
As part of their 80th birthday celebration, Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP created daily events in a fundraising campaign called “80 Ways in 80 Days”. Supporting The United Way, each day of the campaign was coordinated with a different dress-up theme.
Employees made use of their Jostle intranet to share updates and photos of the events with staff across the organization. The organization increased intra-site communication with this campaign, and the events they planned around their fundraising effort brought the organization together, raising over $10,000 for The United Way.
4. Share employee bios and stories
With almost 90 employees dispersed around 15 different US states, building a strong sense of community posed a bit of a challenge for Nova 401(k) Associates, LLC. They decided to hire a professional writer to interview and craft biographies of Nova employees to share on their Jostle intranet. With this initiative, Nova employees on the east coast were able to get to know Nova employees on the west coast and develop a sense of community and camaraderie in a way that would otherwise be missing.
5. Spur friendly intra-company competition
Employees at Custom Communications used their Jostle intranet to raise awareness of their yearly Thanksgiving food donation campaign and spur competition across their participating locations. In 2014, Custom Communications was able to feed 83 families with their Thanksgiving food drive. In 2015, by promoting the effort and encouraging friendly intra-store competition using their intranet, the organization was able to collect enough to feed 105 families. The contribution from Custom Communications amounted to one third of the total donations received. This initiative helped build new friendships, break down geographical barriers, and unite the full team behind a feel-good activity.
The benefits of a strong community
Building a strong sense of community around your organization is both a rewarding and fruitful experience. When employees feel as though they’re working within a community of committed coworkers and management, their work becomes more meaningful and their purpose as a company becomes more defined. We’re thrilled that the amazing organizations highlighted above have leveraged their Jostle intranets as a tool to bring their own communities to life. We hope you can easily put some of these ideas into practice to improve your internal community today!