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  • Writer's pictureMadeleine Milne

Bringing Community Home

How building an in-house community can drive business growth

Over the past weeks we have been focusing on customer communities – how to engage and communicate with your customers to develop authentic connections, which in turn delivers significant business growth. This week, however, we want to turn our attention to the benefits of internal communities – communities for staff and team members - and how in this brave new world of work they have never been more important.

The main crisis may have passed, but for nearly all organisations one “long-Covid” impact is that WFH is clearly here to stay, at least to some degree. Now that the immediate fire-fighting is over and the ash is settling, companies need to find new ways to ensure their culture and values are disseminated effectively and embraced by employees. One way to do this? You guessed it – community.

When we say community here, we don’t mean an intranet offering. This is not about your comms or HR department issuing missives to your staff; simply passing information from the top can leave employees feeling disenfranchised (especially if they are based in their bedroom), and leaves you vulnerable to missing essential employee insight.

In today’s world, conversation is key and embracing online engagement will reap rewards, not only internally but also in your bottom line. Here are 8 reasons why:

1. Embodiment of the organisation’s culture and values

Structured onboarding or town hall meetings can only do so much in sharing or experiencing the culture of an organisation. Having an online community offering can ensure your values and culture can be understood, embraced and shared. This is true for employees who have been with you for a long time, but it’s also priceless for new recruits who might not be able to experience your organisation IRL (and certainly not as richly as they could in pre Covid days.)

2. Increase staff retention

People are more likely to stick around if they feel they belong. Online communities provide that. No matter how convenient working from home can be, there will be a time that if staff don’t feel connected to what they are doing or who they are working with, their enthusiasm and commitment will wane. If you have good people working for you, you don’t want to lose them because they don’t feel part of things.

3. Increased productivity

Organisations that have a well-run and thriving community also see increased levels of productivity – an extension of the belonging point. If people feel they are part of a wider picture, where they have a voice and are heard, they are going to be motivated and work a lot harder than if they feel just a faceless cog in your company’s wheel.

4. Business resilience

Having an internal community allows you to adapt quickly to any headwinds or bumps in the road. It gives you a responsive, more “organic” (for which read “human”) structure.

5. Innovation and learning

One of the drawbacks of WFH is that staff get less natural opportunity to observe and learn from each other. But give your staff a platform to share and come together and innovation will naturally start sparking again. Community encourages peer-to-peer collaboration and creativity. It punches holes in the gnarly issue of silos - suddenly cross-pollination is back.

6. Watercooler moments

Community can bring those watercooler moments into the home. If your organisation only holds structured/ scheduled meetings, those inspirational and motivating chance conversations just don’t happen. Online communities, done well, can bring these back for you.

7. Ambassadors

As with customer communities, staff members who feel more empowered and included are going to become your biggest advocates. One way to trump your competitors and attract quality staff is to have people on the ground flying the flag for you.

8. Increased sales

And finally – bottom line impact. Customers are increasingly buying from companies that share their values and ethics. If you are known to have a thriving staff community they are more likely to buy from you than from a community-free competitor. Not least because they instinctively suspect that the latter may not care or have something to hide. Customers like to see that employees are respected and well-treated - just look at the media coverage of Boohoo or BrewDog.

Our world of work has changed forever. You reacted fast and got through the initial crisis, but now is the time to put in place long-lasting, effective staff engagement tactics. Let us help you design and build your staff community offering so your organisation grows and thrives in this disparate working world.

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