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A sense of community – internal engagement challenges

By Gita Ghaemmaghami

Gita Ghaemmaghami is a leading regional communications specialist who has worked with Philip Morris International, TikTok and Sony Mobile Communications

2021 may not have got off with the start we would all hope for, navigating the ongoing Covid-19 crisis is even more challenging for employers and their internal communication engagement. Companies’ trial and error method to solve the problems while engaging with their employees is not a new dilemma; however, with the pandemic, there is an urgency to seek a renewed approach to the way we engage with our employees internally.

What is the concept of employee engagement? Have we exhausted this concept over the years? I believe employees’ engagement has become a distraction to internal communications, and the measurement of the engagement is simply not measuring the act rather the employee’s feeling. We should look at the main purpose of the engagement, and measure what matters, whether employees are approaching or avoiding a situation.

According to David Rock’s ‘Scarf’ (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness ) model, we all go through situations in life where either we rise to a challenge or we pass it on. As leaders, we have to look at these individual experiences and find out why an employee is engaging or disengaging. When people are in the ‘engage’ stage, they are more creative and proactive, and they see a reward for their engagement. Employees in the ‘avoid’ stage are rushed and scared, and they feel a threat to their engagement.

In the quest for internal engagement and employees’ recognition, we must nurture the emotional traits between employees and the organization and create a sense of community. Community is the social glue that binds us all together for the greater good. It means caring about our work, colleagues, and our place.

To develop a robust community, it is best to start with small groups of committed employees. Peter Block cites evidence that small groups are more effective than great leadership or individual trainings. The select group has to slow down and reflect. The insights from these reflections will lead to initiatives that can grow into promoting a sense of community and engagement.

Employees of a company that does not function as a community cannot be expected to care about any other community. In contrast, a company that has a robust sense of the community realizes how much their organization’s sustained success depends on constructive engagement with the communities around it.

Employees are engaged and motivated truly when they see themselves as responsible citizens of the broader community, hence communityship has to be strengthened in many organizations.