With remote and hybrid working continuing to rise (according to ONS statistics, as of June 2023, 29% of UK workers worked from home at least some of the time) and working patterns changing, the focus is on employee comms professionals to cultivate employee engagement and build a strong sense of community in the workplace.
But it’s not just location that can get in the way of employees engaging with their colleagues and wider organisation, issues like diversity and inclusion, employee recognition and leadership engagement can also contribute to staff feeling disengaged and lacking a sense of belonging.
It’s no secret that employee engagement is directly connected to business success. According to research by Gallup, companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.
But there’s more to it than that. The other benefits of high employee engagement and a strong workplace community include:
A more productive workforce
Engaged employees are more likely to be productive. When employees feel a sense of connection to their work and their organisation, they tend to be more motivated.
According to this Word Trend Index report from Microsoft, when it comes to performance at work, engagement and productivity are mutually reinforcing. When staff are engaged in their work, they are more productive. When staff are productive, they are more engaged in their work.
Higher retention of staff
Engaged employees are more likely to stay with their employer. A positive work environment and a sense of community contribute to employee satisfaction, reducing turnover and associated costs.
According to this McKinsey report, not feeling a sense of belonging at work was the reason why 51% of staff surveyed had chosen to leave their previous roles.
More innovation and creativity
Engaged employees often feel more comfortable sharing ideas and collaborating with colleagues, creating a culture of innovation and creativity.
Improved staff morale
Employees who experience a strong sense of community and feel engaged with their organisation are more likely to feel valued and connected to their workplace.
Communication and teamwork
Strong workplace communities lead to openness in communication and more effective teamwork. Engaged employees are more likely to collaborate with their colleagues, leading to better problem-solving and team performance.
Health and wellbeing
You would guess that organisations that prioritise employee wellness see a reduction in absenteeism. But that’s not the only benefit. According to Gallup research, when employees strongly feel that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing, they are three times more likely to be engaged at work.
So, what next?
The evidence is compelling, so how can employee comms professionals drive increased employee engagement and build strong communities across their organisations?
Viva Engage, previously known as Yammer, has some great features that can help do just that. Here are some of our favourites.
Engagement is significantly higher amongst employees who feel they can approach their leaders with any type of question, according to research by Gallup. That’s why features like Leadership Corner are so powerful.
Leadership Corner in Viva Engage provides employees with the tools to learn about their leaders and build lasting connections with them. Users can catch up on the latest content their leaders are posting, discover the communities they’ve joined and attend their AMA sessions (Ask Me Anything) to ask them questions directly.
This feature is personalised for each employee based on the audiences they belong to and the leaders they choose to follow.
We’ve read earlier in this blog about the importance of a sense of belonging in the workplace. The Storylines feature in Viva Engage helps address this by giving employees the opportunity to share experiences, celebrate milestones, propose ideas and discuss their interests both inside and outside the workplace.
Storylines represents the pulse of the organisation. What are people talking about? What is important to employees? Storylines also gives leaders the opportunity to check in with staff and find out what’s happening on the front line.
Another feature which promotes a sense of belonging and facilitates employee engagement is the Communities feature.
Viva Engage Communities provides a central place for employees to share thoughts and opinions, files, events and updates. It’s a way for staff to connect with coworkers who share the same interests, goals or expertise.
There’s no better way to create connections and build a sense of community than by helping provide answers and solutions.
The Answers feature in Viva Engage gives employees a platform for crowdsourcing knowledge from across the organisation, whether that’s an answer to a question or a recommendation.
Fresh added value
As you’d expect, Fresh has come up with some value-adding enhancements to make it even easier for comms professionals to get employees engaged and involved.
Especially if you are using Viva Engage, Fresh helps to increase the visibility of your communities and their conversations within the intranet. But it doesn’t end there; Fresh also adds more options to support employee recognition, engagement and information sharing.
Viva Engage Communities in Viva Connections
We’ve already discussed the benefits of the Viva Engage Communities feature but Fresh has taken it one step further by creating a card designed to integrate Communities into Viva Connections, opening Communities to an even wider audience.
Comms professionals can choose which communities to highlight on the Viva Connections Dashboard, with the first line of the last three posts appearing.
Viva Engage Conversations in Viva Connections
Similar to the Communities card, employee comms can drive engagement and collaboration with the Conversations card.
The card displays a feed of conversations from Viva Engage in Viva Connections based on settings including author, topic and recent conversations.
Viva Engage Conversations in SharePoint
Comms professionals can use the Fresh Viva Engage Conversations web part for SharePoint to curate a list of conversations from one or more communities to ensure important discussions don’t lose their relevance in very active Viva Engage communities, providing a way for users to participate in community conversations from the intranet. Comms professionals can also display conversations dynamically based on settings like recent conversations, by author or by topic.
Sharing intranet news posts to Viva Engage and Microsoft Teams
Intranet users can use Fresh’s sharing options to share news posts to Viva Engage or Teams, increasing the visibility of intranet content on multiple employee touchpoints across the digital workplace.
Although Fresh’s Kudos function isn’t connected to Viva, it is a good tool to show appreciation and create a sense of belonging in an organisation. Kudos provides all intranet users with a place where they can give their colleagues praise as well as receive praises from their colleagues and is popular with many of our clients.
Want to know more about the Viva suite of productivity apps, including Viva Engage? We’ve written this eBook just for you.
Or if you want to find out more about how Viva Engage and Fresh can help you increase engagement and build a strong community within your organisation, get in touch with one of our friendly team members.