Employee Engagement: A New Year, A New Collaborative Mindset

The New Year is here, and with it comes a unique opportunity for introspection and resolution. While that gym membership card is still fresh, it's also a great time to set some employee engagement goals for your own staff. To that end, there's one area of employee interaction any organization would do well to improve this year: collaboration.

Two men and a woman sitting at a table, viewing something on a tablet.
Helping your teammates get to know each other will go a long way toward employee engagement.

Why collaboration? Well, according to a recent Microsoft survey, employee collaboration is one of the most important skill sets to foster in the workplace. Understanding the importance of collaboration is great and all, but how can you help your team grow in this area?

1. Getting to Know You

When it comes to collaboration in the workplace, the topic really boils down to your team's ability to engage with one another. Convenient, huh? If you could somehow make it second nature for employees to engage and collaborate throughout the day, regardless of team or project structure, the entire organization would likely experience a greater level of productivity. Fortunately, there's a little-known secret to breeding employee engagement, and it starts with familiarity.

Be honest with yourself for a minute. Is it easier to confide in your best friend of 20 years or the new guy in Cube 3A? While it's not always possible to be best friends with your co-workers, just getting to know them on a deeper level will help facilitate easier collaboration. Simply put, your team will be more apt to talk things through with colleagues they know and care for. Inspire these types of connections by promoting open communication and encouraging camaraderie through effective team-building. A word to the wise: Know your audience on this one, and try to avoid any trust-fall snafus.

2. Let's Talk Tech

Fostering a work environment where people not only feel free to collaborate, but make it a top priority is bar none the best way to increase employee collaboration in 2017. So, what's the next step? Give your team all the necessary tools to collaborate effectively. In this new year, that means deploying the right technology to make communication a piece of cake regardless of physical location.

Let's face it — in this age of smartphones and high-speed mobile internet connections, there's really no excuse for a lack of communication. From document-sharing services to mobile communication platforms, it's never been easier to enable high-level collaboration. Add a dash of the cloud, and new deployments can be taken care of faster than the Millennium Falcon during the Kessel Run (that's less than 12 parsecs, for those keeping track).

3. Deliberate Communication

Alright, so you've now figured out how to help your team want to collaborate while also enabling them to do so anywhere, at anytime. Now, if only they used their collaboration time effectively. In an effort to train your team in effective communication (the cornerstone of collaboration), taking a page from the playbook of any agile methodology is a good strategy.

For those unaware, these business methodologies thrive on highly functional communication. In particular, the pages you should really pay attention to deal with purpose and focus. Every meeting or collaborative effort should have a well-defined and deliberate goal. This goal would ideally be small enough in scope to be attained within a week or two of actual work. Focusing on bite-sized, purposeful goals will help keep your team's collaborative genius on the right track.

4. Everybody Plays a Part

Ultimately, it's just not enough to show people how and why collaboration is integral to the success of any SMB. At some point, each individual has to have a stake in the investment. Without some tangible ownership and responsibility, there just isn't enough motivation for truly effective collaboration. So, how do you encourage user buy-in and employee engagement?

As cheesy as it sounds, the solution is to make everyone feel important. This is actually easier than it sounds, too, because in most situations, each individual is important — otherwise, why would they be on the team? All you need to do is make it painfully apparent. Catchy metaphors and motivational posters can be useful here — seriously. Going back to the first point, investing in professional relationships will naturally transition into easy illustrations of each team member's importance.

There you have it! Four ways to embark on the new year with more effective collaboration. As it turns out, a little team building with a dash of technology is all you need.

Find out how Vonage Business can help you get the most out of your phone system to foster effective collaboration.

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