The Importance of Building Emotional Connections with Employees - American Society of Employers - Mary E. Corrado

The Importance of Building Emotional Connections with Employees

I recently read a statistic that I found shocking – 45% of voluntary turnover is from employees who have been at a company less than a year. Another 20% leave after one to three years. Organizations experiencing this type of turnover have a difficult time engaging and connecting with employees.

Turnover is one of those cyclical problems – low engagement can cause turnover, and the higher the turnover the lower the engagement. So how do organizations stop the cycle?

To stop the cycle leaders must focus on both new and existing, tenured employees. It’s important to build an emotional connection with new employees right away. Emotional connections are created when employees feel connected.  When this happens, they are more likely to feel invested in the organization and will put forth more effort and feel valued.

Emotional connections in the workplace are based on mutual trust, respectful interaction, and shared interests. It’s important to get to know your new employees.  Take the time to build a connection and encourage their coworkers to do the same.

Ways to build meaningful, emotional connections with employees include:

  1. Conduct one-on-one meetings: These meetings are crucial to leaders developing connections with their employees.  It’s a chance to exchange feedback and gives the employee a chance to talk about their challenges as well as their aspirations within the organization. This can also be a good time for the employee to discuss any personal issues they are having that might be affecting them at work. When an emotional connection is made, the employee will feel safe discussing such matters. I meet with all of my direct reports in what we call 1-2-1 meetings where they share their most important projects with me as well as any challenges they are facing.
  2. Be vulnerable: Leaders should not be afraid to show vulnerability.  Managers get stressed too, and it’s OK to show your employees that.  They will see you as a human, and not just a distant leader.  It also helps to validate their feelings.
  3. Show appreciation: Employee recognition is one of the best motivational tools.  Consider writing a thank you note, recognizing their accomplishments in the one-on-one meeting, or even sharing individual accomplishments during an all-employee meeting.  I like to share compliments our employees have received from members during our all-employee meetings.
  4. Encourage open communication: This goes both ways. Leaders should not wait to discuss areas where an employee could develop.  By addressing it openly, the employee can make changes to improve themselves.  In addition, employees should feel safe bringing up issues with their manager.  Feeling psychologically safe at work creates an environment of open communication.
  5. Create a nurturing environment: By creating a nurturing environment employees will feel supported and appreciated both at work and outside of work hours.  For example, if you know an employee is going to school at night, recognize their hard work and support them where you can. Celebrate employee achievements both inside and outside of work.

When team members feel connected to each other, including leadership, they will feel more motivated and will likely stay longer. In the long run, this will help to create greater employee retention. I encourage you to look at how you connect with your employees.  Especially, look at how your team is connecting with its newest employees – what are you doing to help them feel connected? Email me at [email protected].


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