Looking for lower turnover? Try boosting workplace connections

As the saying goes, people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. That saying may or may not hold water, but a recent survey found that more than half (51%) of employees say co-workers are the true reason they stick around longer.

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In addition, 62% of the 1,000 U.S. employees polled from a range of industries and company sizes say they also want to know their co-workers even better.

The offshoot is that meaningful employee experiences are strongly rooted in the close personal connections formed in the workplace, according to Powering a People-First Culture, a report from Globant, a “digitally native” tech-services company in San Francisco.

According to Sanja Licina, Future of Organizations lead at Globant, the survey data should present a “wake-up call” to leaders looking to create what she calls “authentic employee interactions” as a priority.

Licina says HR leaders should consider conducting an organizational network analysis (ONA), which involves using data analytics and machine-learning technology to visualize the relationships within a company to get a better idea of the connections across the workforce. This technology, she says, allows HR leaders to map and measure things, such as employee sentiment, which enables them to identify burnout risk and those who might be on the edge of quitting.

“There is a lot of evidence that shows the positive impact strong relationships have on people, such as protecting wellbeing, increasing happiness and even lengthening lives,” she says. “The insights from our survey show there is a huge opportunity for employers to create an environment where people feel that they can connect more easily.”

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Licina explains that, when people talk about relationships, they look for a stronger connection than just two colleagues attending the same meeting.

“In our work, we look for deeper relationships, where someone took the time to publicly recognize or privately share feedback with a colleague, for example,” she says.

ONA can play an important role in helping employers better understand how their people are relating to one another, Licina adds. It can also help determine whether leaders are doing a good job of creating a culture where employees are connecting at a deeper level, and where there are opportunities for improvement. She cites connectivity among colleagues within a certain department as an example.

“You may find a stronger set of connections in the marketing department than in sales, for instance,” she says. “We’ve done some really interesting research where international companies see great collaboration between certain countries, but others look like an island when it comes to making connections.”

Licina says one of the more significant analyses Globant is focusing on today is measuring the inclusion efforts of organizations. Clearly, an increasing number of employers are making pledges to diversity by looking to hire individuals from various ethnic backgrounds. As these initiatives continue to grow, she says, they show that how people relate once they are inside the organization is becoming increasingly important.

If a goal is to increase the number of women inside the organization, she notes, are they able to  effectively create relationships with their peers with both similar and different backgrounds after they join? Do they feel like they belong to the organization?

“That’s just one example where ONA can play a powerful role to give deeper visibility into the inner workings of organizational relationships,” Licina says. “It can serve as a guide for how employers can effectively create the best cultures for their employees.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected]