Getting To Know Your Employees, The MDC Group

Getting to Know Your Employees

Good Things Happen When Team Members Know One Another 

Building a sense of community in the workplace and ensuring that everyone feels seen and appreciated starts by your employees getting to know each other. When someone applies for a position, they tell you a limited number of things about themselves. They let you know where they went to school and what jobs they’ve had, but there’s so much more to learn about each new team member. How well company employees know each other influences how well they work together. And although each person may know people they work with daily, they often know little about those in other departments.

When you describe yourself to someone you have met socially, what do you tell them? You probably include your job title and workplace, but you also talk about where you grew up, your family relationships, hobbies, and other personal interests. In the workplace, people working together closely learn these types of things about each other, but it takes some planning and effort for everyone in the company to know and appreciate everyone else.

Understanding each team member’s background, hobbies, and family relationships can make a huge difference in building community and company loyalty. People who feel understood and appreciated for everything they are, and all they bring to the company, stay at their jobs longer. Here are some great ways to encourage companywide sharing so people get to know one another and see each other as individuals.

Photograph Walls and Contests

There are two ways to use photographs to get to know people. One is to share personal pictures, and the other is to have a photo contest. Either electronically or using a cork and pin bulletin board, encourage team members to post photos. Members with children can post-school pictures or snapshots labeled with names, dates, and comments. People with pets love to share pictures, too, so don’t leave them out. Sharing vacation photos is another great idea. Companies can decide on a series of displays throughout the year to keep everyone engaged. For example, there could be boards in the summertime for vacation pictures, school pictures in the fall, and then make it a holiday theme in November or December, and pet or sports pictures in the spring.

With smartphones, everyone’s a photographer these days, and companies can sponsor photography contests for casual enthusiasts or more serious photographers. They can be themed or not, and all entries can be displayed in the hallway, lobby, breakroom, or conference room so everyone can enjoy them. Some possible themes are local history, local wildlife, nature, workplace photos, community events, or even children or pets. Prizes can be anything from simple ribbons to gift cards, and the best 12 pictures can be made into a company calendar to give out to employees and customers. Local history or nature-themed photos make especially great gifts. Be sure to include a short blurb about each photographer featured.

Exploring other Talents

Most people have creative hobbies of some kind, and whether they sing, knit, paint, or build furniture, finding ways to encourage sharing is a great way for team members to know and appreciate their coworkers. Internal clubs and groups draw people together who may not normally interact. For example, a lunchtime knitting or crocheting club can meet once a week to swap tips and appreciate each other’s work. Those who like to sing can prepare some songs to perform at the holiday party or get together to sing at a nursing home. Book clubs are great after-work happenings. To determine what clubs might have potential, send out a short survey to everyone about hobbies they may want to share.

Art Shows and Sales

In addition to encouraging in-house clubs and groups, a company can sponsor arts, and crafts shows to display any handcrafted pieces employees might want to offer. The display can be informal, using company hallways and rooms, or be more of an evening art show event at a local hotel or art venue with refreshments and music. Inviting the public to the shows helps community members see your company as a positive and compassionate workplace. It reinforces community relations and builds company pride.

An organization can potentially turn the arts and crafts show into a charity fundraiser. Asking team members to donate art or other handmade goods to sell for charity promotes both community outreach and company sharing. Choose a charity the company already supports or that team members feel strongly about and start collecting hand-knit scarfs, paintings, wooden boxes, ceramic tiles, framed photographs, and even baked goods to sell. Get your communications team to publicize the efforts.

Talent Nights

While some of us can create with our hands, others have performance talents. People dance, act, sing, and play instruments. An annual talent event can be terrific fun, and you might be surprised at who knows how to juggle or do magic tricks.  People who love to perform will jump at the chance to show what they can do, and families with children will be enthusiastic if you allow talented kids to perform. To further encourage participation, make it a contest with prizes or sell tickets to raise money for charity.

Organization—Getting Things Done

Starting clubs and bulletin boards or organizing art shows and talent events takes effort and time so, assign someone to lead the efforts. For larger projects, have the project leader pick a committee. Permit planning meetings during work hours and bring in your communications team to get the word out to the team and the public when it’s appropriate. When team members know more about each other, they feel more united and cooperative in work tasks. When the community sees a company that values its people, they want to support it. A few hours of effort can pay off in camaraderie, team building, community relations, and company loyalty.

Want to know more about how MDC can help? Drop us a line!