How Employee Connection Drives Employee Engagement

With the recent shift of many employees working remotely, employee connection seems to be universally craved now more than ever before. Connection is, in fact, a basic human need, residing on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs just above physical safety. And yet, research shows that 40% of employees feel isolated at work, leading to lower employee engagement.

Connection in the workplace is the feeling of being part of a community engaged in something bigger than any one person. There’s a sense of belonging to the organization and the people around you. There’s a deep sense not only of social camaraderie but of kinship, shared culture, values, customers, and mission.

When employees feel a deep, strong connection, they are more likely to expend extra energy for one another, to give more to the job, and to be more positive in the things they say both at work and away from it. Effort, attention to quality and detail, and morale go up . . . and generally, so do profits. Connection can make a team more than the sum of its parts.

Stages of Connection that Drive Employee Engagement

Connection doesn’t happen all at once. It’s rare for a new employee to join an organization and immediately feel they are fully integrated as part of a team. Instead, people typically pass through a few preliminary stages before achieving connection:

Fit. Fit is similarity to, or a congruence with, an employer’s culture or environment. This might manifest as an appreciation for the physical artifacts in the work space, a connection to the social structure, an appreciation for the work environment (digging your cubicle, the break room, etc.), job fit, or a fit with the organization as a whole. People who fit with an organization may find that the people working there have a career or educational background like their own or that the work being done is the kind of work they trained for and enjoy. They fit in with the organizational culture.

Belonging. If fit exists, then employees may move on to feel that they belong with the organization. Belonging includes sharing the same values as the company, enjoying work, and experiencing motivation and reward.

Integration. Once employees feel they belong, they become an integral part of the company culture. Rather than being just a part of the company, the company is a part of who they are.

Case Study: The Ritz Carlton Demonstrates The Results of Full Integration

We can learn a lot about connection and fully integrated employees from The Ritz Carlton and the following experience. John DiJulius was a guest at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota in Florida. While leaving in a rush for the airport, he forgot his laptop charger in his hotel room. DiJulius said, “I planned to call when I got back into my office, but before I could, I received a next-day air package from The Ritz Carlton Sarasota. In it was my charger, with a note saying, ‘Mr. DiJulius, I wanted to make sure we got this to you right away. I am sure you need it, and just in case, I sent you an extra charger for your laptop.’ The note was signed by Larry K. Kinney, in Loss Prevention.”

The Ritz Carlton customer service stories are legendary and for good reason. They demonstrate what it means to have fully integrated employees. Larry Kinney was not just a Ritz Carlton employee; The Ritz Carlton and its “Gold Standards” became a connected part of who he is.

(Source: What Good Customer Service Looks Like at 9 Companies)

The Essential Factor

Employee connection is an essential factor for whether an employee chooses to engage or not. Consider your employees’ experience at your organization. Where might they fall in the stages of connection? How could you foster a greater or more meaningful connection for your employees? Finding answers to these questions will help your employees become fully integrated and connected to the mission of your organization.

Revised by Kenna Bryan.

Related Post: Mangoes and Engagement: A Clear Connection
Whitepaper: ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®: The Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement

DRIVE: Why Your Change Effort is Likely to Fail, and What You Can do About It

Car factory production line

Your organization has, once again, embarked on its latest change journey.  And again, the initiative has met its demise.
If there’s one thing every individual and every organization knows well is the fact that a significant number of change efforts crash and burn.  There’s plenty of data to support the fact that your change effort is also likely to fail.  We’ve seen claims and studies indicating that anywhere from one-half to over 90% of personal and organization change efforts fail!
Granted, creating a stir in which organizations see impending failure is a marketing scare tactic that has been the basis for existence for many consulting firms—sort of a “it’s-gonna’-fail-so-you-need-us” approach.  The reality is that many change initiatives truly do work.
Most times, the source of failure does not lie with the model or process, but in the implementation.  In observing countless change efforts, whether undertaken by a single individual (think “exercise regularly”) or by an entire organization (your organization’s last acquisition), we’ve noticed that the ability to change boils down to one word- DRIVE.
While the word “drive” certainly has ties to its dictionary definition, meaning “to push forward, often forcibly” (and many of us rely primarily on brute force in change efforts), I’m referring to more of a specific framework defined by the acronym “DRIVE”:  Dissonance, Reach, Immediate steps, Validation, and Environment.
DRIVE Change Model
Each of the words in the DRIVE acronym is essential for supporting change.  When we look at the difference between successful and failed change efforts, we clearly see that when one or more of the elements in this framework is left out, the change will not occur.  DRIVE is not a step-by-step change model but, rather, a checklist of must-haves.  Miss one, and the change effort falls flat.
We will be describing each of the elements in the DRIVE framework in more depth in our next several blogs on this topic, but here’s a sneak preview…
D- Dissonance: A clear understanding of the current state versus desired state.  Where are we, versus where we want/need to be?
R- Reach: A clear, agreed upon vision of the end goal.  What does the end objective or state look like?  Is it a stretch, but possible?
I- Immediate Steps: Our start- specific steps that can be taken now… today!  What will I/we do specifically, NOW, to start down the right path?
V- Validation: Measurement and assessment of value.  Is it worth it?  How will we measure, assess, and encourage progress?
E- Environment: The combination of conditions and surroundings that support development, survival and the ability to thrive.  What systems and structure will I/we put in place to best ensure success?
Take a look at your latest change effort, whether individual (personal) or organizational.  Chances are, if it hit all the above elements, it succeeded.  If not, it probably went the way of most other change efforts.
Related Webinar: The 5 Keys that DRIVE Organization Change
Previous Posts on DRIVE:
When Faced with Dissonance, Are You a Changer or an Ego-Protector?
Think Small When Tackling a Large Change Effort
Validation- Is the Change Worth the Effort?
Why Environment Is Key to Organizational and Individual Change