15 September, 2020

Using the “Drive to Bond” Psychology to Improve Employee Engagement

The last five years have seen a major spike in interest in ‘employee engagement’ as a driver of business growth.  Organizations across the world have already adopted rewards, incentives as well as some form of an employee recognition tool to make employees feel appreciated and acknowledged for their hard work. These efforts are put in to ensure one simple objective- help employees feel a sense of belonging within the organization. It is useful therefore, to explore the underlying psychological factors responsible for human bonding, which we’ll discuss in this blog, along with concrete ways to harness this knowledge for a successful employee engagement program.

According to evolutionary psychologists, modern human beings have inherited certain biological drives or tendencies from their ancestors, as was discussed in the previous blog. One of these drives has been to build alliances or forge relationships with others for mutual give and take, thereby leveraging companionship to tackle the elements of nature and ensure survival. This is called the ‘drive to bond’ and manifests in today’s workplace in the form of empathy, loyalty, support and trust- all of which are vital for a thriving work culture. In fact, Gallup’s employee engagement survey has one question that has consistently shown to significantly impact profitability for organizations- ‘Do you have a best friend at work?’ In other words, authentic and meaningful relationships between employees can impact the bottom line.

Employees enjoying lunch in office

The ‘drive to bond’ can be satisfied in the workplace by effectively creating an environment of collaboration with effective communication. Communicating words of appreciation and gratitude further boosts the sense of familial belonging in a team. In today’s remote working world, organizations can only accomplish this with the help of a robust digital engagement platform. Here are some ways in which employers can facilitate an employee’s drive to bond with her peers and with the organization:

  • Having a powerful peer-to-peer employee recognition tool with elements like video and voice messages to make recognition heartfelt and personal
  • Organizing virtual group events and activities to ignite socialization such as bingo nights, musical or comedy nights and team-level hangouts
  • Having an organization-exclusive collaboration interface where employees can share thoughts, ideas and some possible insights into their life outside of the workplace
  • Having a daily updated feed for employee birthdays and work anniversaries, giving peers the opportunity to wish each other on special occasions
  • Having a ‘group events’ feature that allows a team to pitch in money or reward points to gift one of their peers and organize a celebration
  • Having a one-on-one mentoring program within the organization on a rotational basis to enable employees to build meaningful connections at work with the maximum number of people possible
  • Allowing employees to connect with like-minded people across the organization with fun clubs revolved around similar interests

The ‘drive to bond’ strikes at the heart of sustainable employee engagement practices and speaks to the role of human relationships in driving productivity, innovation and ultimately, brand loyalty. People managers have a defining role to play in ensuring that employees invest in each other, provide help and support during times of crisis and take each other’s successes and failures as their own. This can only happen with a structured and sustained effort, but most importantly, a digital approach towards employee and team bonding.