Create a Sense of Community at Work

April 20, 2009

We hear a lot these days about the popularity of social networking.What makes them so attractive?  I can define their success in one word: community.

A sense of community builds a sense of belonging.  Members of online communities such as Facebook, Linkedin, and mySpace define their success by their number of friends or connections.  Visiting social networks provide an outlet for people’s emotions and for sharing what’s important in their life at that moment. But will a list of friends truly define a commuity in the workplace?

You could build an online community at work, but most business leaders are still uncomfortable with that option.  Here is an easier, cost-effective solution, that your employees will support willingly, if well chosen. 

Find a project in your community that generates a sense of spirit, a sense of shared purpose, and a sense of belonging among your employees.  Being a good corporate citizen doesn’t have to cost you money.  Your employees can tutor in a local school, clean up an empty lot, participate in Habitat for Humanity, organize a food drive. The possibilities are endless.

Truly embrace the concept of being a good corporate citizen. You will begin to see behavior from your workforce that benefits your bottom line.maslow4

According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people are motivated by unsatisfied needs.  His hierarchy illustrates that lower needs like safety and security must be satisfied before attending to higher needs like esteem and self actualization.

Just look at the Maslow pyramid. If you want your workforce to be creative, to solve problems, and be confident, you must meet those lower needs first.

Building a community in the workplace must be grounded in your company’s mission and core values.  Your employees will respect your company more, and respect the leadership for creating an environoment of commitment to their community.  And with that, you create a stronger community in the workplace where values are shared and productivity improves.

During these turbulent and unique economic times, leaders must create a reality that provides basics such as safety and security, and a sense of belonging.  Otherwise, workers will not focus on the job at hand, but rather on protecting their personal needs. Move your organization to the top of Maslow’s pyramid and experience the optimal results of community.

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