Supporting Employee Networks is Crucial – Here’s How To Do It
A strong employee network impacts every level of your company. People who feel really connected to their coworkers are more engaged, collaborative, and satisfied at work.
This guide offers ideas for strategies, activities, and events that encourage employees to connect. It also reviews the importance of employee networking and how to build networking into your organizational design.
Read on or “jump ahead” to these sections:
- The Importance of Employee Networking
- How to Build Employee Networking into Organizational Design
- Employee Networking Activities, Events, and Ideas
- Employee Networking is Essential for an Engaged Organization
What Are Employee Networks?
An employee network refers to the connections between employees that allow an organization to run effectively. These relationships can be either formal or informal.
A formal network includes connections determined by the org’s leadership. This could be a chain of command, which describes who employees should report to and when. A tiger team—a group of people bought together to solve a major problem quickly—is another example.
Informal networks evolve without deliberate input. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this might have looked like coworkers going to happy hour together on a Friday. These days, peers celebrating someone’s birthday on a weekend Zoom chat.
The Importance of Employee Networks
By investing in your employee networks, you’ll see improvements in:
- Communication – When employees are better connected, it increases the likelihood of effective communication and makes information flow and thus workflows more efficient.
- Collaboration – Strong relationships naturally lend themselves to greater collaboration, as people will be more open to sharing innovative ideas.
- Workplace transparency – When communication flows freely, employees know that their opinions and ideas are heard and valued.
- Engagement – A feeling of connectivity is vital as it drives a spirit of commitment to the organization.
- Employee retention rates – Strong colleague relationships and all the benefits they provide work together to increase workplace satisfaction, which in turn increases employee retention.
- Aligned goals and values – The more time colleagues spend communicating or developing their relationships, the more they’ll come to share an understanding of the organization’s mission and culture.
- Organizational performance – Many of the above factors work together to increase productivity, innovation, and other traditional measures of success for your org—outcomes everyone can be proud of.
In short, finding ways to invest in your employee networks will improve everyone’s experience at your company.
How to Build Employee Networking into Organizational Design
Opportunities for employee networking can be built straight into your organizational design, or the principles and structures that guide your business toward its goals.
There are two ways to do this: The first is to integrate employee networks into your company culture. You can do this when choosing values that guide your organization, or the words that describe your company’s culture. Some words to describe a company that values its formal and informal networks include:
The second way is to include networking events, techniques, or activities in your organization’s systems and processes. For example, you could establish guidelines for using an instant messaging system and put it in the employee handbook, or include mixers and events in a five-year plan to help you reach a goal of improved collaboration.
Activities, Events, and Ideas to Strengthen Your Employee Networks
There are opportunities for employee engagement activities at almost every time of the workday. This list of strategies, activities, and events will help you foster a collaborative environment where employees are unified and engaged.
Schedule Lunch Dates
Lunch dates can go a long way toward reducing departmental silos or helping a cross-functional team get to know each other better. They’re also a no-brainer to plan. Schedule a time when coworkers can go out to lunch on the company’s dime. Observe social distancing practices, of course, or have a virtual lunch date where lunch is delivered to everyone.
Use an Employee Directory
An employee directory is more than just a database of contact information. Pingboard gives everyone a profile to share who they are and what they care about. As an admin, you can customize employee profiles to feature things like skills, personal interests, and more—whatever fits your culture. Interactive employee directories can be a powerful tool to improve employee communication.
With this info at their fingertips, your employees can look up and connect with each other.
Host lunch-and-learns over Zoom
Encourage employees to host lunch-and-learns on a professional or personal interest. It’s a fun way for people to connect and share their passions, whether that’s learning to code, foraging for rare mushrooms, using a specific design tool, or anything else.
Have Get-To-Know-You Games
Use get-to-know-you games like Who’s Who to help new hires connect with tenured folk and vice versa. Who’s Who lets employees test their memory and learn names from the privacy of their phone.
Spotlight Quiz is another Pingboard feature that helps employees learn more about their coworkers without feeling pressured. With Spotlight Quiz, you can learn coworkers’ interests and fun facts about them. Here’s 20 more icebreaker activities to mix up the office environment and bring employees together.
Start a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program
A peer recognition program encourages employees to praise each other for a job well done. This low-cost, high-impact initiative increases employee engagement, relationships, collaboration, transparency, and retention. There are several ways to implement a peer-to-peer program including:
- Using an online shout-out system
- Including peer feedback on annual performance reviews
- Devoting a corkboard in the office to employee praise for colleagues
- Offering the first five minutes of staff meetings for coworker shout-outs
Use a Messaging App
This is critical. Everyone loves staying in the loop on projects and topics, but no one loves digging through their inbox in search of an email chain or crucial details. Reduce this barrier to communication by using a messaging system like Slack.
Slack integrates with many other software solutions, including Pingboard. The Slack + Pingboard integration updates the messaging app with out-of-office notifications, plus reminders for birthdays, work anniversaries, and new hires, so coworkers are always aware of who’s in the office and who needs celebrating.
Show and Tell via Zoom
We’re all just hanging out at our houses for the most part, getting work done, surrounded by our lives. Why not host a show and tell via Zoom? Coworkers can share something special to them—even pets or their brand new baby!
Host a Remote Trivia Night
Is your team working remotely? Zoom has several functions that make it perfect for hosting an online trivia night. Trivia gives colleagues an opportunity to work collaboratively in a fun way.
Consider hosting the event during normal work hours as you would with an in-office mixer. To get started, download this guide to hosting a trivia night on Zoom.
Employee Networking is Essential for an Engaged Organization
By increasing communication and collaboration between colleagues, you also improve innovation and efficiency in your company.
Hosting a mixer or social event is just the beginning of employee networking. Look for ways to incorporate networking at every level of the workplace experience, from an optimized messaging system to lunch dates that connect people from different departments. With a few simple strategies and activities, your employees will form stronger bonds and find more satisfaction at work.blog comments powered by Disqus