Building a sense of community at work is important for well-being. We have talked about the importance of building community before. It might seem like a daunting challenge to create a feeling of community for employees, especially if they aren’t co-located. But, recent research suggests that building community quickly is possible. Want to know more? Learn the details below!
How Do You Build Community?
A sense of community can be defined using five features. First, people have to feel as if they belong to a particular group. So, membership in a community is a key factor. Second, people have to feel as if they matter to the group. This means it has to be possible for them to influence the group if they feel strongly about something. Third, folks have to feel motivated to be a part of the group, and view it as important to them. In other words, they have to value the group in order for it to rise to the level of “community”.
Fourth, communities spend time together and have shared experiences. You can’t be a community if you don’t interact enough to forge real bonds. Finally, the group has to care about one another in some respect. A community is not built on name alone – you need to show you are a community too. Based on these five factors, it may seem challenging to build community at work.
Build Community through Openness
The good news is that recent research shows that building community isn’t as challenging as it may seem. Plus, you can build community quickly, which is helpful when you’re working with a team that is struggling to connect. Or perhaps you’re trying to build community fast, so a team can work more efficiently right away. Whatever the situation, being able to create a swift sense of community is a helpful tool for leaders to have in their toolkit.
Building community requires openness to sharing emotions and vulnerabilities. Remember, communities care about each other. So, this activity is based on that premise. The first step is asking employees to disclose something deeper that will help bond them to the group. This doesn’t have to be NSFW content though! Employees can disclose something they are struggling with at work or something they need help with. They might also disclose an area in which they lack confidence or something they are worried about. By disclosing things that make them vulnerable, employees create bonds of trust and emotion. But, interestingly, another step is necessary to really make these bonds long-lasting.
Communities Last Longer with Reminders
When employees share vulnerabilities with one another, it forges stronger, more caring relationships. But, that feeling can be quickly fleeting. To make it stick, organizations can provide items, objects, or symbols that remind people of the bonds they have with one another. For example, as people share vulnerabilities and offer each other support, they might then offer advice to help each other feel less worried or anxious. But, if they also pass around an object, like a small stone or stress ball, as they give advice to each person – and then let the person have it after – it actually serves as a reminder of the community that was built.
It sounds odd – but it works. Think of keepsakes you have that bring back memories for you. The idea is the same. Items that remind people of positive community building activities with coworkers can keep feelings of community lasting longer. Encourage employees to keep small tokens that remind them of the caring community they are a part of on their desks. Or provide team members with objects that convey your appreciation or support. It starts with sharing things that make you more “human” to those around you. But, it lasts when people remember those sentiments all year long. Hope you enjoyed this easy activity for building community!