A 2018 article in Harvard Business Review revealed the results of a motivation survey given to employees at Facebook. Interestingly, millennials chose having a sense of community as one of the top three factors they value the most at work, which was reflected within other age ranges, as well.

I have seen the same values expressed by employees of the companies I work with to establish wellness programs that better serve the interests of their workers. As a result of harboring corporate communities, employees and the companies they work for benefit in a reciprocal effect.

Business leaders, therefore, should consider those benefits and ways in which companies like Facebook are incorporating community building strategies into their employee wellness programs.

Benefits of community in the workplace.

When communities exist in the workplace, employees feel a sense of belonging and connectedness at work. Employees value networking within common interest groups, and companies that are supporting community building at work say they’re seeing employees bring their whole self to work, with increasing productivity and commitment to the company.

Gallup has routinely found in their research that women who say they have a best friend at work have better work performance, with engagement scores as high as 63%. Employees who feel connected at work not only work harder, but also feel able to turn to their workplace networks for support, which further ties in to company goals of employee health and wellness.

How to build a sense of community in the workplace.

Intuit Inc., one company that aims to bring a greater sense of belonging to its employees, has been able to gain traction in reaching these goals by implementing actions that build communities as part of the company wellness strategy.

Likewise, and as previously mentioned, Facebook uses bi-annual surveys to develop workplace communities that are interest-based, recognizing this is key for employee motivation at work.

1) Make it employee-led.

Company leaders can initiate community building at work by letting employees take the reins in establishing new communities based on shared interests. Intuit Inc. developed eleven employee networks within its company based on culture, ethnicity, and faith.

Yet, the communities that evolve within a company will not always look the same, and should regularly be assessed by program leaders to make sure networks are active and reflecting the kind of inclusivity and culture that benefits everyone.

One way to help employees find communities that best suit them is by allowing the different networks to present themselves to all employees at company fairs. Additionally, when on-boarding new employees, companies can ask them to share their personal interests in order to best match them with an already-established community.

2) Allocate time and budget.

Another way to support employees in community building at work is by allocating a budget for community-led activities. Further, employers can encourage employees to utilize special time off allotted for cause-based activities.

When employees work together for a social or environmental cause, bonds grow stronger, and communities gain credibility and therefore thrive. Both time and budget shows commitment on the part of the employer, and adds credibility that the company believes communities fosters well-being.

3) Use social media channels.

Company-internal social media forums like, Yammer or Slack, can help community-building as employees can interact and create networks on their own. These applications keep work communities organized and allow employees to create and organize events and communicate within a structured channel.

To prevent misuse, companies should clearly lay out the values which communication within networks must adhere to, such as in keeping these social channels about inclusivity and tolerance.

To further promote a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for everyone in the company, make it a priority to encourage all networks to be involved in regular company events, fundraisers, or philanthropic causes. For instance, Oscar Health holds a monthly happy hour, annual retreats, and frequent company outings to keep coworkers and their individual groups connected.

Companies that are exploring new ways to improve overall performance and engagement, while serving the interests of employees, will benefit from incorporating community building strategies into their company wellness programs. Community building in the workplace begins with simple actions, like allowing employees to take the reins in establishing new communities, identifying common interests during on-boarding, and bringing workers together for a common cause.

It’s through workplace communities that employees are able to find a greater sense of belonging at work, while helping to bring overall inclusivity to the company, making for better business all around.

Originally published on Ellevate.

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