How important is an employee community to the success of your company? 90% of SMB employers believe it’s crucial, but building those strong connections gets tricker in large-scale enterprise organizations.

Why? When your frontline employees are spread all over the country (or the world!) making them feel connected is extremely difficult. And with other business outcomes prioritized, employee community is often neglected while leaders focus on more tangible objectives. In fact, a recent study found that only 13% of hospitality companies invest in their people

But it’s well worth the investment. According to The Deskless Report, 60% of deskless workers would like to have a stronger community with workers outside their location. Moreseo, a strong employee community can directly affect your company’s profits.

By understanding the benefits of fostering an employee community in your organization, you’ll see how investing in your people can drive retention, idea-sharing, engagement, revenue, and more. 

First we’ll explore what employee community is, then we’ll give you seven reasons why fostering a strong community is good for business. 

What is employee community in frontline organizations?

Employee community is an environment that empowers every employee to exchange information, collaborate, and support each other. It means a strong relationship and connections between members of an organization.

The topics of company culture and employee community are widely discussed within deskbound organizations. In fact, 47% of office workers believe that “putting community building at the forefront of workspace design is critical.”

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of employee engagement platforms, online workshops, and collaboration tools that help to strengthen a sense of community among deskbound workers, especially during the shift to remote and hybrid work.

But what about frontline organizations? Where are the tools to help frontline organizations build employee community? Of course, it’s so much harder to build a united community in fractured, dispersed organizations, spread across various locations. But these workers also have less access to collaboration tools (or even a corporate email!) to help them connect with their coworkers. 

But that makes it all the more important to find ways to build that employee community. 

Employee community increases employee engagement

Of course, the sense of community among coworkers boosts employee engagement significantly. 38% of frontline employees say a sense of community among workers makes them feel engaged and motivated. By making people in your organization feel connected – regardless of their location – you create empowered teams that are committed to their work and workplace.

And that’s critical because the impact of employee engagement can’t be overstated. One study connected employee engagement to everything from productivity and retention to the ability to align staff to corporate goals. More on some of these outcomes below.

Employee community retains employees…

Here’s the scary news: 36% of deskless workers currently want to quit their job. It’s hardly surprising that employee turnover is the biggest challenge facing deskless leaders right now, during The Great Resignation. But there are ways to address it.

Engaging your workforce with an employee community is a powerful method to reduce staff turnover. One survey found that 51% of employees said they quit or considered leaving a job because of the lack of belonging at work.

To retain staff, brands are increasingly going out of their way by coming up with new perks, but budgets are thin. However, all they need is to create a real community their employees want to belong to. In other words: employees want a sense of purpose at work – and a workplace community is one of the components that create it.

…And attracts new ones (especially millennials and gen Z!)

By 2030, Millennials and Gen-Z workers will make up 75% of the workforce. Frontline organizations doing their best to stay staffed during the labor crisis need to focus on the needs and demands of these younger generations. 

And the wish list is different. While older generations prioritized ethical leadership and financial stability, younger workers want to work for companies that care for their well-being, both physical and emotional.

In fact, one study found that employees under 34 care about the sense of community at work more than any other age group. If you want to attract and retain young talent, you need to create an environment where employees feel connected and recognized.

Employee community boosts morale

Employee morale is the overall satisfaction and feeling of well-being of employees with an organization they work for. High employee morale results in higher motivation and productivity.

And here’s a scary stat: 2 in 3 employers said maintaining employee morale had been challenging for them since the pandemic outbreak. 

The good news is that a strong employee community is a recipe against low employee morale. A sense of community belonging is a key component in boosting team morale because it creates an environment where workers seek stronger bonds with colleagues. It also eliminates toxicity. That can help to eliminate burnout, another COVID hurdle many frontline organizations are facing. Instead of spending their time and energy in toxic workplace conditions, employees embrace the “community over competition” attitude and feel psychologically safe.

Employee community encourages idea-sharing

Your frontline employees want to be heard. And when they feel heard, they’re 4.6% more likely to perform their best work.

While organizations will often turn to their deskbound employees for decision-making and ideas, they often overlook the valuable insights they can harvest from their frontline. This is partly because it can be tricky to capture those ideas at scale. As a result, 39% of deskless workers don’t feel heard by their organization.

When employees know they belong to a strong community, they are eager to help it get better. They exchange ideas for improving productivity, share success stories that might be useful to different locations, and support each other with solutions during challenges or hurdles.

Furthermore, a strong employee community encourages transparency across the organization. How would direct managers and supervisors improve working conditions or provide better experience for customers if they receive no information from their teams? Transparent communication is the answer.

Employee community boosts frontline worker health

According to Harvard Business Review, employees are lonelier than ever

The feeling of loneliness not only results in lower productivity levels but also brings health problems, like mental health issues and even poor immune system functioning. The World Health Organization says that depression and anxiety has a huge impact on the economy – the global economy loses $1 trillion in productivity every year.

On the other hand, the WHO also found that for every $1 every that organizations invest in addressing these issues, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Fostering an employee community in your organization allows you to connect staff across locations and regions, and even identify mental health and burnout red flags sooner. As mental health and employee productivity are so directly related, you can’t afford to miss out on creating conditions for better employee connection.

Employee community boosts profitability and revenue

When you invest in employee community, you drive employee engagement. And Gallup found that companies with high levels of employee engagement are 21% more profitable than their competitors. That’s a stat you can’t ignore.  

Each of the above-mentioned benefits contributes to the overall business performance. When you put together high employee morale, effective communication, high employee retention, a young and motivated workforce, a comfortable environment for idea-sharing, and mentally and physically healthy employees? All these components create a ground for increased profits. 

By creating a sense of community amongst your workers, you’ll not only drive better business outcomes across your organization – you’ll also attract new hires. What more could you ask for?