A week or two ago I attended a Future in HR event by Sympa hosted by Annette Andrews where one of the ideas presented focused around the importance of belonging to attract top candidates to organisations and its importance in workplace communities.
This made me think, why does a good community even matter? It turns our a good sense of community is more likely to create engaged and productive employees who take ownership of their work (pretty important for the bottom line!). I also wondered what creates a good community in the first place?
My goal last week was to try and explain that, but it turns out community is complicated (not everything can be like IKEA furniture), so instead I turned to one of the few things about which I know more than anyone else - me (photo below). I reflected on my own experience in youth sport communities to navigate some of the complex emotions that your employees could be experiencing that lead to engagement or disengagement, and ideas for ways I think this could be mitigated by leadership. If you’re looking for a succinct list of what makes a good community, don’t read my last blog post. I explained it to some degree, but I know I have a lot to learn. If you want new ideas and an honest story about the emotions behind belonging and engagement, however, it will be worth your time.
Around the same time as the Sympa event, Denise Hampson, who came up with the idea of memory design, posted a series of blog posts explaining how we can use memory factors to create better experiences for customers like emotional engagement, sensory immersion, novelty, ‘Peak-end’ coding, mementos and repetition. I’ll be exploring these elements in my next six blog posts, starting with emotional engagement.
Looking into communities made me realise how much nuance there is in our new hybrid workplaces. There are so many opportunities to bring people together and develop individuals, but there are almost as many ways for people to fall apart. One of the main concerns I have with hybrid working comes from the degree of freedom given to people; It must be frustrating for people in HR right now. Freedom to work from anywhere attracts people, but long-term, if there’s a division between in-office and at-home culture, or even division by days of the week, this could create a divided organisation over time.
Shared purpose and strong values are the hallmark for creating a strong community. Right now, all workplace communities have had COVID and * recovering from the pandemic to bond over, but what happens when that’s gone? How can you make sure your people get behind your organisation’s purpose and values when I doubt many of them even remember what it is?
Can you think of a community with a good founding story and shared purpose and values that everyone in the community remembers?
I can think of one off the top of my head. Were ours the same? I thought of the Christian community, but any major religion does this really well, this is just the one I remember best. I bet you most members of the Christian community could name off at least five of the 10 commandments, how many people in your company could name half of your values? Hopefully the answer is everyone, but if not, the hybrid workplace offers a lot of new opportunities to get there using memory design.
I’ll start with emotional engagement. Emotional engagement is key when getting people to remember your values. There are two main customers that Human Resources serve, prospective employees and current employees. The focus of this article is on using memory design to improve hybrid organisation’s communities, so I’m going to focus on the latter. To truly be effective, values need to be understood and enjoyed. Denise suggests for customers that the experience/story should be linear, entertaining and personalised. I’ll offer two new ideas on how to apply these concepts to your hybrid community.
When emotionally engaging employees, it’s key to keep in mind a linear design. This allows you to control the experience and get across key points. It’s also crucial to communicate values through personalised stories they can relate to. When all you see is a picture, the only like for like comparison you can make is aesthetics. This is one of the reasons diverse representation is important. If you're a diverse company, people will be more likely to listen to someone who is like them. By having diverse people in your stories, people are more likely to see someone who resembles them and click. Your values and message should be consistent, but you need to get people to see your stories in the first place. Keeping this in mind will help you get your message across when creating employer branding content.
New Idea One - Tolstoy
Tolstoy is a way to combine these elements of memory design would be to use a video programme like Tolstoy to personalise experiences. The app Tolstoy allows people to interact with videos telling stories and offers opportunities for them to explore linearly. It works the same way as the Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch, but instead of choosing what happens you could offer choices on which story to follow. These stories could all relate to the same values and purposes you’re trying to help your people remember.
New Idea Two - Miro
Miro boards are something I use within my team at work. To help people remember values and purpose I’ve included a link example that shows how you can code goals and wins by value. When talking about these goals in meetings, have employees explain how their wins contributed to the organisation’s purpose.
I hope you found these new ideas helpful. Are there ways you like to apply these concepts to emotionally engage employees? If you do, I'd love to hear about your success (I’m always looking for content and/or good conversations). Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog post, it means more to me than you know.
Don’t forget to follow me on Linkedin for updates on the next part of this series!