How To Build Community at Work (And Why It's Important)
Updated February 3, 2023
Workplace culture can make a significant difference in an organization's ability to succeed and achieve its objectives. Many managers also choose to move beyond improving workplace culture and instead create a community-oriented environment that inspires greater investment among employees. If you're a manager seeking ways to help team members create deeper, more meaningful connections at work, it may be helpful for you to review strategies for accomplishing this goal. In this article, we explain how to build community at work and why it's important to do it.
Why is it important to build community at work?
It's important to build community in a professional setting so all internal stakeholders within an organizational structure can work together effectively and feel secure in their individual roles. Workplace environments that successfully foster community among employees often experience higher rates of trust, respect, empathy and cooperation overall. With these essential principles in mind, here are a few of the specific benefits that may arise through community-building in the workplace:
Support networks: Employees who feel that they're part of a community might care more about each other's well-being and success. Therefore, in such an environment, professionals may be able to access a higher level of support from one another, which can reduce their stress levels and heighten their engagement at work.
Opportunities for growth: Community-oriented workplaces often provide employees with various opportunities for professional or personal growth customized for their particular needs. When employees take advantage of these opportunities, they can bring more value to their roles and encourage others to pursue growth.
Personal investment: Building community in the workplace often entails involving employees in decision-making processes rather than using top-down procedures. Taking part in these processes can help employees invest more in an organization's success and feel a sense of responsibility in overcoming any challenges to progress that may arise.
Improved collaboration: When employees feel like they're part of a workplace community, they may trust one another more. This increased level of trust can lead employees to feel more willing to collaborate, take other perspectives into account and share their own viewpoints openly, which can significantly improve their ability to work interpersonally.
Efficient communication: This type of workplace environment can often lead employees to communicate more efficiently. Improved communication may result in various other benefits, such as clearer expectations, fewer discrepancies and higher rates of productivity overall.
Increased productivity: Being part of a community can help employees better understand how their individual contributions fit into larger organizational goals. From here, they may feel a greater sense of accountability toward these goals and produce an increased quantity of high-quality work.
Professional satisfaction: With all of the above—improved support, more opportunities for growth, greater personal investment, optimized collaboration, better communication and higher rates of productivity—combined, employees within an organizational structure that emphasizes community may be able to achieve professional satisfaction more effectively. This can lead to increased loyalty and higher retention rates across the board.
How to build community at work
There are various strategies you can take advantage of to build community at work. Here's a step-by-step guide to follow as you pursue this goal:
1. Optimize your communications
Optimizing internal communications can help employees feel a greater sense of connection to an organization. Audit your current communications processes and evaluate what strategies are working and those that aren't. From here, consider introducing tools like blogs, newsletters, live Q&A sessions and meet-and-greet events to your strategy to engage employees.
2. Define organizational values as a collective
While it's likely the organization already has determined a few of its core values already, consider inviting employees to engage in defining additional principles. Listening to what tenets employees find important in a workplace community can help them feel more heard, understood and appreciated in their roles. From here, they may invest more in these values and assume the responsibility of upholding them.
3. Customize training processes to employee needs
It's common for organizations to offer professional development and training opportunities designed to help employees acquire the skills needed for their roles. This approach doesn't typically take employees' specific needs into account, though. Therefore, when establishing training processes and inviting employees to participate, consider customizing these programs to their personal goals to demonstrate an investment in their career success.
4. Foster connections between employees
A key part of creating community in a workplace environment is fostering connections between employees. While this can be a challenging task because it requires employee participation, you can create a basis for these connections by encouraging employees to engage with one another. Consider providing platforms for employees to share stories about their lives, personal successes and unique interests over which they can bond with others.
5. Organize full-team events
When attempting to create a community on an organizational scale, it's important that you plan events where all team members can interact with others outside of their departments. Consider hosting events like lunches, games, competitions or talks to encourage organization-wide engagement. During these events, employees may be able to form connections to others with whom they don't ordinarily interact.
Related: 16 Ways To Create a Happy Workplace
6. Maintain accountability at all levels
Maintaining accountability at all levels can help employees invest more in a workplace community. Therefore, it may be helpful for leaders, managers and employees alike to express a sense of responsibility regarding their work and how it affects others. This type of alignment can help foster a more collective environment overall.
7. Promote a healthy work-life balance
Building community in the workplace often requires managers to pay close attention to employee wellbeing and satisfaction. When managers value employee contributions, afford them flexibility in their roles and provide them with opportunities to practice self-care, they may be able to achieve a healthier work-life balance. From here, employees may recognize the value of their workplace environment and grow more loyal to the organization for which they work.
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