Back to Basics: What Is Employee Connection?

August 3, 2021 Mike Lovett

everything is connectedAre the people at your company happy with the people they work with and the work they’re doing?

That is the essential question to determine if there is a strong sense of employee connection at your company.

If you answered that question with a resounding, genuine, truthful “yes,” congratulations. You can skip ahead to the “How do you maintain employee connection” section.

If you answered that question with a “meh” let’s start here. Human connection affects employee engagement, empowerment, inclusion, psychological safety, retention, turnover rate, sales, productivity, management, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. Yeah, pretty much everything.

We don’t call it the “heartbeat of business” for nothing. Connecting with employees and providing an environment that brings out the best in them is the best thing a company can ever do. This is a big one, folks. The Back to Basics of all Back to Basics. Let’s do it.

What is employee connection?

In essence, employee connection is the key to everything. It’s not hyperbolic. To feel a sense of belonging at your place of work, to feel included with your peers and managers, and to rally behind the company and the work you’re doing, that is as good as it gets.

Employee connection is the undercurrent to any successful business. Recall that very long list of business operations it touches from before. For simplicity’s sake, let’s define employee connection in three parts.

1. Connecting to people: The relationships employees build with their peers and managers is the single most valuable element to cultivating a more human workplace. Full stop. To boil it down further, it’s the sum of recognition, conversation, and celebration of the lives and accomplishments of the people in your company.

2. Connecting to values: Employees have increasingly made clear that they want their employers to stand for strong, meaningful values. They are drawn to companies making a positive difference in industries and in their communities. And they seek action, not lip service, on issues of race, inequality, and sustainability that directly impact them and the work they do.

3. Connecting to the work: When someone is connected to the work they’re doing, they’re more motivated, driven, and they deliver their best work. They’re learning and growing in their role. They’re sharpening their skills and moving forward in their careers. From a developmental standpoint, that is the jackpot.

How do you connect with your employees?

Connecting with employees means seeing them as people. You connect by recognizing their unique efforts and accomplishments. You connect by helping them clear hurdles and produce their best work. You connect by acknowledging the moments that matter in their lives.

A few paragraphs back, we boiled down connecting with people to the combination of recognition, conversation, and celebration. Three terms that are still too broad to properly convey that connection. Grab a saucepan and turn the stove on, we’re boiling again.

Recognition: Commending a job well done, applauding above-and-beyond and under-the-radar efforts, and generally making sure everyone in the company is feeling appreciated for the work they do – that is recognition.

Conversations: Consistently checking in to work through problems, providing and receiving feedback, and spending time learning about one other forms lasting bonds between managers and employees. Heavy emphasis on “consistently,” as an annual review doesn’t provide nearly the same level of connection as weekly or bi-weekly check-ins.

Celebrations: This is going to sound a little obvious, but the people at your company are … people. They have birthdays, they move, they get married, they have kids. Celebrate every moment. Show them that they are more than bodies at a desk or names on the payroll, that they bring an invaluable asset – a lifetime of experiences that make them uniquely themselves.

How do you maintain employee connection?

Listen. Conduct pulse or engagement surveys with engaging questions. Accept that it won’t always be smooth sailing. Repeat all the steps that allowed you to develop connection in the first place. And through it all, be transparent with your team. Piece of cake.

Making recognition, conversations, and celebrations daily habits of your company will help maintain employee connection. And when you do that, you’re setting your company and every person who works there up for success.

About the Author

Mike Lovett

Mike is a senior content marketing specialist at Workhuman where he writes about the next era of the workplace. Outside the workplace, he’s an avid gardener, a frequent biker, a steadily improving chef, and a fantasy sports fanatic.