How to Build a Strong Bond Between Employees Without Invading Their Privacy?
August 9, 2021
According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs on 7,000 employees in 2019, 65% of participants said that they are more productive when working from home because they were not bothered by workplaces' "social activities”. In addition, “How to balance between productivity and engagement, as well as engage without crossing the personal boundaries?” is a question that challenges the ingenuity of HR staff.
The connecting story in the “covid period” always gets on businesses’ nerves.
“Out of sight”, but not “out of mind.”
Before the popularity of WFH, had you ever seen your boss and co-workers in a casual look instead of a serious, professional role model at work? WFH opens a new perspective of the colleagues you thought you had “seen through them”. Nowadays, you can accidentally spot a room full of pop-stars’ posters of a “cold-bean” boss, or a senior freely showing her “bare face” in internal meetings instead of her usual beautiful make-up at work.
Due to the efforts to increase interaction via video calls from managers, employees can experience a better sense of connection with colleagues and share daily stories that cannot be told in the office. This contributes to lessening the feeling of loneliness– one of the biggest “challenges” among employees while working from home (according to a survey of Buffer).
WFH helps colleagues explore a new side of each other.
However, “close but not too close”. According to Forbes, blurring the boundary between work and life can make employees feel burned-out. The challenge for HR managers is not only to tighten the bond during the WFH season but also to ensure that the sharing of personal moments only serves connection purpose without going beyond the thin line between work and life.
A balance between “engagement” and “privacy” – the implementation is difficult, yet easy
Guidelines to enrich the engagement culture can be easily found on Google with just a few clicks away. Among over 50 million results, video communication is an optimal option. However, in reality, many employees feel uncomfortable to “expose” their personal lives in front of colleagues. In these cases, managers need to explore and experiment with new methods to encourage employees to be more open-minded but still not exceed the privacy limit. Here are some activities that Ms. Tieu Yen Trinh – CEO of HR consulting firm Talentent, suggested:
A call with a topic on Friday afternoon
At the office, Friday afternoon is the time when the whole company often “carouses” to relax after a long week of working. Although it is impossible to hangout together when working from home, the whole company can join “virtual parties” via Zoom. It is even better if there is a glass of wine or a can of cold beer for everyone. This addition imitates all employees sitting together to drink as they did in the office. A meeting with camera on once a week can ease the frustration of extroverts who aspire to engage, while not making the group of introverted employees feel “overwhelmed”.
A Friday call will encourage employees to share more.
An online award ceremony
A Career Builder survey pointed out that 78% of employees felt more motivated at work when they got recognized by their boss. During the WFH period, employee reward activities not only lift employee morale but also help develop engagement between employees.
A regular survey on engagement
Connection must come from both sides, managers and employees need to listen to each other from “the bottom of hearts” and find solutions together. During the epidemic season, opinion survey with open questions is a popular solution to find out the wishes of their employees, thereby adjusting management methods if necessary.
Do not: Equate “engagement” with “24-hour surveillance”
When implementing policies to foster engagement, the act of promoting cohesion, if not careful, can rekindle in employees the feeling of “invasion of privacy”. In fact, many metrics have shown that the company’s over-concern on its employees can backfire. In 2018, Gartner announced that 50% of the 239 large corporations that participated in the survey had a monitoring method via email content, social media accounts, and lists of people with whom employees contacted. This news does not sound good for the staff.
Therefore, instead of monitoring tools, managers are recommended to tighten links with employees by setting “collective” goals such as common KPIs and ensuring transparency in employee management policies. In addition, video calls for connection purposes will only be effective when they do not invade employees’ personal time.
Culture of engagement is not intended to blur the boundaries between individuals and the collective but to help increase trust and loyalty of employees to the business. Engage without loss of freedom, open without loss of control or going overboard. Only then can new employees totally devote themselves to their work.
The culture of engagement was proved to be able to deliver positive business results and go beyond contributing to the realization of the vision to build a strong team. However, building the engagement culture is not an overnight thing, but requires long-term investment, along with the efforts of both businesses and employees. When people get involved in rowing in the same boat, businesses will soon land in the prospective land.