In our last blog, Reddin Group Partner, and workplace expert, Merran Brown, discussed the rise of the Workplace Community and its significance in attracting and retaining top talent in today’s market.
The question is – how?
We rejoined Merran as she discussed considerations and essential steps that organisations must take to build a robust, sustainable, and high-performing workplace community.
Build A Sense of Belonging
“Creating a culture of belonging is paramount in building a workplace community. In order to do this, we must start from a genuine approach, taking everyone’s personal goals and motivations into account, seeking how they find fulfillment. These types of open and honest conversations do not come naturally to everyone in the workplace environment, but if you invest the time, not only will the team walk away with a better understanding of each other, you will identify small changes that can be made that could potentially make positive big impacts on your people and their productivity.
“Knowing your colleague’s children’s or dog’s names, learning that someone likes to bake, or compete in triathlons sound like trivial things, but it is this kind of genuine connection and knowledge that help people to understand and support each. These are not simply ‘nice to haves.’ Greater understanding of one another, is what communities are all about, but you must give people time and the opportunity to share information. Book a meeting time and do not talk about work. You will be surprised how quickly people begin to build rapport with one another. Given many of us work remotely this is even more important and harder to achieve,” Merran says.
Acknowledging Difference and Building Inclusion Is Key
Acknowledging and addressing differences also plays a big part in building a workplace community.
“I recently heard a story of a young woman of Asian background who grew up in Australia. As a child she went to primary school and was met with abuse when she opened her lunchbox because her lunch looked and smelt different to what the other children had brought with them. So, that little girl simply stopped eating her lunch. Now an adult, the trauma has stayed with her. But what if we embraced the difference, what if we encouraged people to share their food and explain its origin. It sounds so small, but for someone who was bullied for being different, imagine the impact if, as an adult, she was told we welcome your difference. This small gesture is an example of showing people they belong,” Merran explains.
The same can be said for the pronunciation of names.
“Because a name may be difficult for some to say, doesn’t mean you should settle for an easier to pronounce version. Getting people’s names correct shows respect and cultural inclusion. Unless someone specifically asks you to call them by a shorter or different name, it is important to get their name right. Again, a small but significant building block for a workplace community,” she explains.
Provide Space For A Community To Come Together
The next step can be to be mindful of people’s schedules and, where possible, allow people to have space on work time for certain passions if they need it. Putting in place a meeting ‘ban’ from 12:30pm to 1:30pm is an example. People can choose to use this hour to get out and exercise, shop, or come together in a kitchen as a group. That is how organic communities are made. There is integrity behind the action which reflects respect.
Clear Values, Direction, Purpose, And Contribution Is Essential
Giving everyone clear direction and purpose in their work is non-negotiable.
“Organisations must have clear values and a purpose that are visual and easily communicated. Your people must understand the company strategy and how their role directly contributes. Purpose is essential if you expect your people to have skin in the game. If they cannot articulate your values, how can you expect them to care and therefore want to contribute. Garnering their interest is key to workplace communities. As is ensuring people have common goals,” Merran explains.
“Regular acknowledgements in a pubic and visual way is a wonderful way to build communities, as it works to reinforce those shared goals. Taking time to acknowledge wins is a fun way to bring people together on a regular basis especially considering flexible workplace arrangements. Gathering regularly keeps connections strong and maintains goals top of mind,” she says.
Showing The Way To Further Growth
One of the best ways to forge community spirit is to enable people the time to further develop professional skills.
“Enabling people to develop further, showing growth pathways, encouraging career development, and supporting through activities such as regular mentor conversations, training and opportunity to contribute provides a support system within a community.
“This helps to show individuals that they are valued and that there are leaders enabling them, wanting them to achieve not just today but for tomorrow and beyond. Again, it is that sense of respect, responsibility and development that are key to building and sustaining a community that works to retain those performers enabling business success and are desirable in attracting new talent for the future,” Merran says.
Merran further believes that providing a solid workplace community will become an expectation of younger generations who will soon enter the workplace. Companies need to portray themselves as employers of choice in order to win the ‘war for talent’.
“Creating workplace communities that thrive will be a big focus for the corporate landscape in the coming years. When leadership is less transactional and there is a clear focus is on getting the best out of people, your people will certainly respond. You will be building teams that will be far more motivated, cohesive, and productive.
Connect with Merran to discuss more on workplace community and culture.