You might think it’s difficult to connect with employees, but it's probably easier than you think. It’s not all about managing them; it’s about making sure they’re motivated, engaged, heard, and recognized.
Here are six essential tips you should employ to develop meaningful and productive connections with employees.
1. Hire the right people
The most important aspect of connecting and building relationships with employees is making the right hires in the first place. For example, when hiring managers, you need to look beyond the resume. What are their values and goals? How do their beliefs and personality traits align with the business? Ideally, take the time to learn about them as a person.
You also need to have the right hiring process, which should include planning, recruitment, and employee selection. You can streamline these tasks with the right applicant tracking software and optimize the entire process for careful selection.
2. Create a coaching culture
Developing a coaching culture for your organization is a great way of improving your employee’s skills. It also offers the opportunity to get valuable feedback from them; this is your chance to listen to them, implement change and create an energized workforce.
Be sure to facilitate discussions with employees and identify their personal and professional goals. With a coaching mentality, leaders can connect with employees and help them achieve success, and this ultimately elevates the business.
3. Evolution over retention
With the increasing turnover rates, it’s possible to develop the fear of losing employees once they advance their skills. The truth is, you can’t have them forever, but it’s possible to boost your retention rates by connecting with them.
You can do this by creating an environment that accommodates your employee’s needs. Create opportunities for growth within the company that are attractive for them to explore. Think about how you can reconfigure your business to retain top talent, rather than holding people back and adhering to the status quo.
4. Lead by example
Employees appreciate leaders that are willing to push up their sleeves and work. The sense of division caused by a hierarchy is a breeding ground for contempt. In most cases, employees don't see the late nights and early mornings leaders dedicate to getting things done; they see the endless meetings, business trips, and the swanky networking events.
Ensure leaders within your organization are accessible and open to conversation. The hard work they put in behind the scenes should be transparent. Create platforms within the organization to empower employees to ask questions and track progress. Develop a culture of approachability and encourage open door policies where possible.
5. Listen to understand
One of the biggest challenges in modern communication is that people listen to reply, rather than listening to understand. You should focus on encouraging active listening and developing emotional intelligence, as well as hard skills.
For a business to really be able to connect with employees, employees need to feel that their concerns are valid. If they fear possible retribution for sharing thoughts or that nothing will happen, they'll be reluctant to share, which festers disengagement.
Some aspects of active listening you can practice include:
- Repeating summarizations back for confirmation
- Having positive, engaged body language
- Asking clarifying questions
- Recording information and identifying actionable steps
Using these strategies during conversations with employees will help them feel validated and more connected to the organization.
6. Promote work-life balance
How people work is gradually changing. Technology is enabling employees to get away from the traditional 9-5 office. Over the past decade, the prevalence of remote work has grown by 91%, and this has been linked to increased productivity rates.
Businesses need to shift their mindset to adopt newer trends. Rather than focusing on a set number of working hours, the focus should be on getting work done and meeting quality standards. Acknowledging that employees have lives outside the office is the first step in that paradigm shift.
Give employees the opportunity to have a flexible work schedule that allows them to attend to other essential personal tasks, such as going to their child's basketball game. Present employees with opportunities to get their work done from anywhere rather than forcing them to sit in an office.
While promoting a healthy work-life balance, it's also essential for businesses to re-evaluate their demands. For example, some companies go in the opposite direction by ensuring that no employee is taking work home with them at the end of the day, which helps to encourage personal time with their friends and loved ones.
Employee connectivity in the modern world
As technology plays a more significant role in modern business, companies need to ensure it doesn't overpower the basic human connection. Strive to create opportunities for face-to-face engagement and team building.