HowTo Foster Genuine Connection within Your Workplace

We recently spoke with Jill Nelson, Founder, and CEO of Ruby Receptionists (Ruby). Ruby is a highly skilled team of virtual receptionists on a mission to preserve and perpetuate real, meaningful connections in an increasingly technology-focused world.

In fact, Ruby Receptionists have been nationally (in the U.S.) recognized and voted a top 5 Best Small Company to work for, 4 years running by FORTUNE magazine and one of 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon and one of Oregon's fastest growing companies for eight years.

What we found to be a real perk and attribute of the organization was their focus and genuine passion for fostering connection and happiness within their company. It was evident that their unique way of bringing their team members together has developed and grown their workplace culture to the tight-knit family they are.

In five steps, Jill shares with us how you too can foster genuine connection within your team.

Step 1: Send spontaneous emails of gratitude. Make a point to compliment team members outside formal reviews for their unique contribution.

At Ruby, this is known as their “WeRock” List - compliments, thank you’s from clients on what a great job they’ve done and “Ruby Raves”- peer to peer feedback.

We all know how nice it is to receive acknowledgment for doing a good job and the concept of such recognition seems to be part of why more and more people are seeking jobs within organizations where they feel valued and like they are making a difference.

These concepts are so simple yet so effective and could be the very thing that takes team connection to new heights within your workplace.

Step 2: Treat your employees as individuals. A super hard-working employee who can’t get to work on time regularly (because of something going on at home) doesn’t have to be held to the same attendance standard as their less productive peers - if it’s not hurting the business. Be flexible and find the unique ways to make each of your employees feel individually supported.

A supportive workplace is what’s going to have your employees valuing their place within the company and carrying out their best work. Plus, we know that it’s about quality, not quantity. You could have a team member working fewer hours and producing double the workload to someone who is there twice as long. The work getting done is what’s important. Sometimes life gets in the way and people truly appreciate a workplace that recognizes them as a human being.

Step 3: Recognize the special events in your team members lives. Listen for the things we know are meaningful—someone becoming an aunt or uncle, someone’s alma mater getting to the NCAA championship, and offer your congrats. Or, go completely “WOW” and surprise them with game tickets!

It’s the little things in life that matter most and like Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Step 4: Look for opportunities to help your employees grow professionally and help them on that path.

As a society, we are starting to recognize more and more that life is more than just work and people have interests and goals they’d like to achieve inside and outside the workplace - so why not help them?

The more we work together and help each other, the stronger the bond grows. When we value one another as people there’s a genuine connection that develops and that filters through all aspects of people’s lives and very predominately in the workplace.

Step 5: Make yourself available. And be nice. (I guess that’s six!) When you’re leading a team of any kind making yourself available and approachable sends a very clear message to your team. This kind of management/relationship really shows people that you’re willing to listen, you’re there to help when you can and you don’t see yourself as different to them. This lays the foundation for an equal playing field.

And being nice, well, while it may seem self-explanatory just remember, you never know what kind of battle people are going through in their lives and a little kindness, being nice or helpful may just be the very thing that changes their world in that moment.