14 Ways To Foster Connection Between Employees


Genuine relationships within a company can help to create a more engaged and productive workforce. Though sometimes these relationships develop naturally over the course of the regular work, other times they require a bit of a push. But how exactly can leaders work to foster more connections between their employees?

To help answer this question, the members of Forbes Business Council shared 14 tried-and-true strategies to naturally build employee relationships, thus developing a stronger team overall.

1. Take A Conscious Leadership Approach

The highly-disruptive cultural and technological advances of the past decade have pushed aside traditional top-down leadership models in favor of a new approach: conscious leadership. A conscious leader understands the importance of tapping into the uniquely human skills of their talent—their “power skills”—to organize and empower them towards achieving a shared goal. – Michael DePrisco, Project Management Institute

2. Prioritize Cross-Level Conversations

Demonstrate through your behavior and by investing your time that you value relationships. It’s so important for leaders to serve as role models for building effective relationships with employees, and one way is to prioritize regular “skip-level” or “ask-me-anything” conversations across the workplace. It’s so energizing to have these conversations and for people to feel seen, heard and valued. – Cheryl Fields Tyler, Blue Beyond Consulting


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3. Involve Employees In Decision Making

Involve employees in decision making and seek to gain a deeper understanding from your team. Talk to them, conduct surveys or request their input in business decisions. For example, when considering the return to work, employees may have concerns about their daily schedule, including childcare or eldercare. Leaders can learn a lot from their employees simply by asking questions. – Chad Severson, Ergotron

4. Build Connections Through Shared Activities

At Industry West, we have book clubs where team members are selected, based on their similar duties and experience, to read a book together. Books are based on expanding business and/or industry knowledge. Chapters of the book are selected, and the team members meet on a weekly basis to discuss until finished. It’s a fun way to get to know team members better and grow skills. – Sissy McQuaig, Industry West

5. Form Joint Committees

Create joint committees. For example, if the company is a high-growth company, create a growth committee that employees can volunteer for. This fosters relationships across departments and teams and allows for creativity, contributions and collaboration while giving the employees an opportunity to showcase their knowledge, skill set and ideas. – Scott Snider, Exit Planning Institute

6. Leverage Technology To Enhance Communication

With unprecedented supply chain disruptions and national labor shortages, a managers’ time has never been more scarce. Companies can leverage technology to enhance human interaction, not replace it. A system can send an email or text to the manager and help them connect with their team by prepping them with timely nuggets of information like birthdays, service anniversaries or national (name it) days. – Sheila Stafford, TeamSense

7. Tackle A Project Outside Of Work

There is a fine line to the nature of those relationships where they can go from fostering greater “connectivity” to interfering with managing. One great way to navigate is to create a project that is outside of work either something like teamwork on Habitat for Humanity or something more benign, but lots of fun, as a result, is bowling. – Howard Rosen, LifeWIRE Corp

8. Have Cross-Functional 1:1 Meetings

Sometimes the best tactics are the simplest. One of the most effective things you can do is to simply have regular one-to-one meetings with cross-functional colleagues. Not only will this help you make more connections, but through those conversations, you will also identify others on your teams who need to be connected. Monthly scheduled meetings or coffee/lunch chats are a good way to do this. – Kevin Namaky, Gurulocity Brand Management Institute

9. Prioritize Employee Interaction And Engagement

A warm working environment that actively supports employee connections drives employee satisfaction. Successful companies prioritize engagement and create opportunities for employees to interact and work with other team members. Group projects, team building, internal committees and shared goals can help foster an environment where employees interact with others and develop stronger connections. – Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting

10. Create An Open Dialogue

Create an open dialog with employees. In Amasty, we have a meeting with the CEO in Lean Coffee format every two weeks. Any employee in the company can bring the question to this forum and get an answer. – Sergey Derzap, Amasty

11. Employ The Trust Model

Help employees to understand the trust model. By understanding the trust model as a workforce, they can speak about it with each other. This will enable them to say things like, “Your credibility is great, and I just need you to improve your reliability in order for us to have more trust.” Until this four-part model came along, trust was a misunderstood topic. Now it can ease transparency between people. – Darren A. Smith, Making Business Matter

12. Connect Employees Through Programs

We utilize a program called [email protected] to create close-knit teams that fuel connection, inclusivity and problem-solving. It’s based on a proven process used by tens of thousands of CEOs around the world and it’s transformative. Each week, forums meet using a self-led learning management system to guide deep and profound connections, creating better teamwork, collaboration and communication. – Kerry Siggins, StoneAge

13. Create Opportunities For Interaction

Creating opportunities for employees to interact outside of daily tasks and projects is the most direct way to foster genuine relationships between employees, especially those that don’t work together often. It could look like committees, a happy hour, volunteer programs or peer recognition programs to name a few. The key is to ensure the interaction is about more than the day-to-day work they do. – Shannon Brooks, Shannon Brooks Consulting

14. Provide Social Areas During Breaks

Provide social areas where employees can gather during breaks to play games, eat or just step away from high-stress jobs. Employees can use these short breaks to build relationships with co-workers and recharge their energy to be more productive. Employees who create bonds with their co-workers often strengthen their loyalty to the company in the process. – Ty Allen, SocialClimb

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