The Importance of Connection in the Employee Experience

Connection: Feeling connected to managers, colleagues, company, and community.

Matthew Lieberman, a neuroscientist at UCLA and author of “Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect,” describes human connection as a superpower that makes us more productive, happier, and healthier. His experiments show that when people feel lonely or socially isolated the parts of the brain that feel physical pain light up. When we have the ability to connect to someone we care about? The pleasure centers light up.

“Employee experience is engagement and bonding between the company and employee themselves…. Engagement between all employees across the whole company is the most essential element for employee experience.”

The pleasure of connection is so important, that its impact on your employees is greater than a boost in salary. Studies show that if you have a friend that you see on most days (especially at work), it’s like earning $100,000 more each year.

That connection leads to measurable company benefits. A Harvard Business Review study showed that when a group of bankers were forced to back each other up during scheduled time off — the whole team was more productive and motivated. Cho and Perry’s study on managerial trustworthiness showed that a connection to a manager is one of the two biggest factors in building intrinsic motivation. Gallup shows that employees who could connect their work to company goals were 3.5 times more engaged.

Connection doesn’t always happen naturally in today’s work environments. It is difficult for geographically dispersed teams and remote workers to have casual hallway conversations. There are five generations in the workplace today – and cross-generational connection sometimes feels awkward. Some companies and industries have (inadvertently) celebrated the individual contributor to a degree that discourages team connections.

Building Connection into your Employee Experience

While you can’t force employees to be friends, you can set up an environment that encourages employees to connect. Here are some ideas:

  • Communicate your core values. Having a clear set of core values helps employees connect to the company, its mission, and the community.
  • Encourage regular one-on-ones. Many studies show that employees leave managers more than companies. Regular coaching sessions between a manager and employee strengthen that connection.
  • Recognize teams. Instead of just recognizing heroic individual efforts, recognize teams that work together and back each other up. Public acknowledgment can create positive peer pressure to work together.
  • Create cross-team collaborations. Even if work projects don’t lend themselves to working across a team, asking employees from different groups to work together on company or department kickoff meetings, volunteer projects, or cross-team learning opportunities can strengthen connections across an organization.
  • Build trust. Open communication, transparency, and making it safe for employees to share ideas builds trust between managers, teammates, and executives. That trust is at the core of solid connections.

About Kazoo
Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit