How to Foster Collaboration in the Workplace

Building a work culture that is focused on communication, collaboration, and engagement takes time. Human resources directors are always strategizing their next move to increase employee engagement, but, it takes more than just buy-in from human resources departments to create and stick to an action plan. So, how does your organization increase engagement and build a workforce that collaborates with each other in a positive and constructive way? Consider a bottom-up strategy.

All too often, human resources personnel are scrambling to gather data and information for their boss or CEO to review. They spend countless hours presenting engagement ideas to upper management with hopes that once it is approved, implementation will go smooth and there will be a dramatic shift in how employees collaborate and engage with each other. They work hard only to fall flat when employees don’t have the desired response to whatever new engagement program has been created.

Company Buy-In

Upper management buy-in is important. Leaders improve engagement by defining and communicating a powerful vision for the organization. Having leaders set a strong example for engagement is a critical part of building a workplace culture that values collaboration and communication. Upper-level executives and department managers understand the need for employee engagement and encourage employees to participate in the program. However, disengagement breeds disengagement and if the employees have no buy-in, they are not likely to take the bait.

Create employee buy-in by making them an active part of the strategic planning. Create an Employee Engagement Committee that welcomes employees to be part of the brainstorming and strategy building process. By working with upper level managers and human resources personnel, employees will feel like a collaborative part of the decision making process. They are more likely to be cheerleaders in promoting new initiatives if it is an idea they support.

Engagement Committee Roles

In an Employee Engagement Committee, managers and human resources managers play the role of facilitators. They present a problem to employees from various departments and open the topic up for discussion. By asking employees, “How can we improve collaboration?” and “What would make you feel more engaged in the workplace?” managers can get ideas on exactly what the employees want from an engagement program. Because front line workers are the ones to experience the day-to-day struggles, they are the ones who can best generate ideas on what needs to be changed. The answers can’t come from above and so having a bottom-up discussion about what’s working and what isn’t can shed light on the things that are preventing a positive workplace culture from growing.

Trying to develop, let alone implement, an employee engagement action plan without employees is doomed to failure. Employees are more engaged by being consulted and included in decision-making. Once ideas are generated and the Employee Engagement Committee has created a strategy they agree on, front line employees become part of the implementation process. Now, upper-level managers and employees are working together to foster cultural change. Employees are more likely to collaborate with their peers and promote engagement if they are part of the process that creates positive change in their workplace.

Human resources managers and CEOs shouldn’t assume they have all the answers. Using a bottom-up approach to boosting employee engagement can help identify what employees want and need. The best workplace cultures are ones that put employee needs first. It’s a culture that asks questions, identifies problems, and encourages employees to collaborate on implementing solutions.

Meaningful Initiatives