Feeling out of place at work has been a growing sentiment among employees, especially as remote work has become normalized. HBR shares that “in the wake of the pandemic and the vast shift to flexible work from anywhere policies, 65% of workers say they feel less connected to their coworkers.” And if connection is challenging for existing employees, companies are now regularly onboarding brand new employees without ever meeting them face-to-face. Fostering employee connection, especially in a remote environment, requires deliberate action from an organization and will contribute a great deal to the engagement of remote workers.
Why is Feeling Connected at Work So Important?
The need for love, connection, and belonging has long been considered a basic human need, as identified by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s critical to our survival in everyday life and is equally important in the workplace. The Institute of Leadership and Management conducted research that found “relationships with colleagues were considered one of the most important factors in determining job satisfaction by 77% of respondents.” Feeling out of place at work can be a significant contributor to employee disengagement and worse, employee turnover.
How to Identify Employees Who Feel Out of Place
It’s important for leaders to develop relationships with all of their employees, but disconnection at work appears to be strongest in Gen Z and Millennial workers. In a poll by Engine Insights, 95% of Gen Z and 93% of millennial workers reported feeling less connected with their coworkers and struggling with remote work. In addition, new hires who are joining a remote organization are immediately at a disadvantage. Without a dedicated and deliberate onboarding plan, new hires risk floundering from day one. Check in on these employees regularly, and create space for asking questions, sharing struggles, and celebrating success.
Five Tips for Leaders on How to Engage and Connect with Your Teams
- When onboarding new employees, assign them a “buddy.” Ensure the buddy schedules an introductory check-in on the new hire’s first day of employment, and then several times per week during their first four weeks. This will provide the new hire a friendly resource to whom they can ask questions in a safe space. This will create an automatic connection for an employee who may otherwise not know anyone.
- Schedule regular check-ins with each of your team members. Prior to jumping into work items, take the opportunity to get to know your team members, and share a bit more about yourself too. Have kids or pets at home? Invite them to say hello! Humanizing yourself as a leader will create opportunities to find common interests and foster connection on a personal level.
- Create opportunities for cross-functional collaboration. Connecting your own team often happens naturally but seeking opportunities to connect your team to other functions in the organization can be incredibly helpful. Consider inviting another business leader or team into your team meeting to share about the work they are doing and opportunities for collaboration.
- Schedule monthly “lunch and learns.” These can be virtual meetings held during the lunch hour on any topic! Consider inviting employees to share about recent travel experiences, or perhaps about their hobbies. While work topics can certainly be covered, finding ways to connect colleagues personally can create common ground and conversation.
- Encourage the development of and participation in Employee Resource Groups. Employee Resource Groups (commonly known as ERGs) create opportunities for certain communities within a workforce, along with their allies, to come together, create connection and discuss opportunities for advancing their causes within an organization. ERGs by nature create community, camaraderie, and support systems for employees who join.
Create a team that becomes known for being inclusive, collaborative, and creative. The Psychological Safety Journey includes four unique Teamraderie experiences designed to help your team grow through the four dimensions of Psychological Safety. One journey, four stages, measurable results. To better assess progress, your team will take the Amy Edmondson Fearless Organization Scan before and after their journey.