What is employee connection? Benefits, stats and strategies

By Gabe Scorgie

7 min read

What is employee connection? Benefits, stats and strategies
Illustration by Maya Ramadhina

With technology transforming how we work, water-cooler conversations and lunchroom banter are becoming a thing of the past.

Without these in-person interactions, employees find connecting with teammates from behind their computer screens difficult. In fact, 43% of employees feel strongly disconnected from their work.

In this article, we’ll look into the benefits of fostering solid employee connection and ways to strengthen it.

What is employee connection?

Employee connection, viewed from an organizational standpoint, refers to the relationships between individuals in a professional setting.

It’s not just friendly employees chatting on a break. It’s about the bond that grows between them and how they engage with your organization’s values and the tasks they’re assigned. It’s a deep sense of belonging and purpose.

The connections can be broken down as follows:

Employee-to-employee: When employees have strong relationships amongst themselves, it can lead to a sense of community and support. They feel comfortable about collaborating, sharing ideas, and helping each other deal with challenges.

Employee-to-values: When employees connect with a company’s mission and core beliefs, they should feel a sense of alignment — they fit in. They can see how their work contributes to the bigger picture and are more motivated to go the extra mile.

Employee-to-work: When they feel connected to their work, employees will typically find it engaging and meaningful. And when they’re passionate about the tasks they’re assigned, they’re more likely to be productive, innovative, and satisfied with their role in the company.

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Benefits of employee connection

From the above, you can see that an employee connection will strengthen the foundation of your company. It will create a positive work environment, boost morale, and may ultimately lead to better organizational success. Let’s discuss some specifics:

According to a national survey conducted in April 2023 by Eagle Hill consulting, the following is of interest:

  • 60% of employees surveyed reported that feeling connected to their work improved their ability to do their job
  • 58% said it improved the day-to-day quality of their work
  • 55% reported an increased desire to go above and beyond
  • 47% said it better enabled them to deal with customers
  • 48% of workers said a connection to their work impacts their decision to stay or leave their job
  • However, nearly half (45%) of U.S. workers also believe that their employers aren’t really invested in developing employee connections 

And for another data point, Enboarder states that connected employees say they are twice as likely to push beyond what’s simply expected of them.

4 strategies for building employee connection

Working with a group of people provides the opportunity to form meaningful workplace relationships. But creating and nurturing those relationships doesn’t happen overnight; it requires effort, dedication, and a shared commitment to connection.

1. Encourage open communication

If you want to build up employee connection, you need to start with a foundation of open communication, which is more than just an exchange of information. It’s creating a safe space where employees feel comfortable speaking up, sharing ideas, and giving and receiving constructive criticism.

Why it matters:

  • Every interaction connects: Every time your employees speak out, they share their perspectives, actively listen, and engage with each other’s ideas — they build connections. This creates a sense of collaboration and belonging.
  • Psychological safety is key: If they’re afraid of repercussions or judgment, employees will hesitate to openly share. According to the American Psychological Association, nine out of ten US employees want their employers to prioritize their emotional and psychological well-being. This means employers need to create a safe space where employees feel comfortable when taking risks and expressing themselves freely.

How to achieve it:

  • Encourage participation: Actively solicit employee input in meetings, projects, and decision-making processes. Ask open-ended questions, and then listen — truly listen — to the responses.
  • Normalize diverse perspectives: Don’t look down on different viewpoints. Celebrate the different viewpoints that varying backgrounds and cultures offer. Encourage healthy debate and acknowledge the value of opposing ideas.
  • Focus on understanding, not blame: Mistakes happen, and when they do, focus on identifying solutions instead of assigning blame. This will build up an atmosphere of trust and encourage employees to learn from their experiences.
  • Provide anonymous feedback channels: Offer employees the opportunity to share their concerns or suggestions anonymously. This can be through surveys, suggestion boxes, or online platforms.

2. Provide opportunities for connection

While virtual options are helpful, research from Enboarder shows that when it comes to connections, employees value traditional methods like team meetings and 1:1s with their managers when compared with purely social virtual events. Quality interactions matter.

How the data backs that up:

  • A study by Microsoft in 2022 found that 73% of their employees craved a reason beyond just work expectations to come into the office. 84% said that their top reason for wanting to be physically present was socializing with other employees, while 85% said their reason was for rebuilding team bonds. 
  • According to Wisq, many employees, particularly Gen Z, miss the casual interactions and social connections that come with in-person work. 51% of those who responded to a survey reported missing spontaneous conversations with colleagues, and 47% felt isolated since the shift to remote work.

How to achieve it:

  • Invest in team building: Plan activities that encourage collaboration, communication, and fun outside of typical work tasks. This could involve team lunches, volunteer opportunities, or even things like game nights.
  • Promote social interaction: Create designated spaces for informal gatherings, like break rooms with games and comfortable seating areas. Encourage casual conversations and knowledge sharing during breaks or lunches.
  • Hybrid work advantages: For hybrid or remote teams, schedule regular video meetings that allow for informal check-ins and social interaction beyond just project updates.

3. Encourage strong leadership

Research by Enboarder showed that 29% of employees identified unsupportive or passive managers as the top contributing factor to their disconnection. Leaders who are distant, unapproachable, or fail to provide guidance can create a sense of isolation and detachment among their teams.

How to achieve it:

  • Be approachable and supportive: Leaders who are open, empathetic, and willing to listen create a safe space for their employees to share concerns and seek guidance.
  • Communicate clearly: Effective leaders communicate openly, transparently, and regularly with their teams. This helps to keep employees informed, engaged, and feeling valued.
  • Empower: Empower your teams to take ownership, make decisions, and then celebrate their accomplishments.

4.  Recognize and reward good work

Don’t be fooled. Recognition and rewards are more than just a pat on the back or a bonus check. They are powerful tools for motivating your employees, reinforcing positive behaviors, and creating a strong sense of connection within your organization.

The power of recognition:

  • Strengthens belonging: Recognition programs that celebrate both individual and team achievements can significantly impact employee sentiment. According to a 2022 Gallup survey, employees who are recognized at work are up to 10 times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging to their organization. In turn, that sense of belonging will foster a deeper connection with their colleagues and the company as a whole.
  • Motivational force: recognition programs can be a powerful motivator. When your employees feel that their contributions are valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to go the extra mile, take on new challenges, and strive for excellence.

How to achieve it:

If you want to implement an effective recognition program that builds employee connections, consider these points:

  • Personalization: One-size-fits-all approaches rarely work. Tailor your recognition to individual preferences and contributions. Offer a variety of rewards, from public praise to gift cards or even additional development opportunities.
  • Timeliness: Recognition should be timely and specific. Make sure you acknowledge any accomplishment as soon as it happens, while the details are fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition: Recognition shouldn’t just come from the top. Encourage your employees to recognize each other’s contributions, as this will help to foster a sense of teamwork, appreciation, and shared success.
  • Align recognition with company values: When developing your recognition program, ensure that it celebrates behaviors and achievements that align with your organization’s core values. In the end, this will reinforce the culture you’re aiming for and motivate employees to incorporate those values into their work.


Establishing a robust connection among employees is an ongoing effort that requires commitment and perseverance from the outset.

It will lead to a happier and more productive workplace, improved job performance, increased employee satisfaction, and a stronger sense of community. To get there, organizations should use technology to strengthen employee connection and enhance employee experience.

Work doesn’t have to be hard. At the end of the day, employee connection is about creating an environment where everyone feels valued, appreciated, and respected.


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Gabe Scorgie

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