What is holding back the growth of your business? Talent. You can’t hire fast enough and your employees are constantly being recruited to join other organizations. This challenge is not going to get easier - in fact, it is expected to get much harder: By 2030 the labor shortage will cost the economy $8.45 trillion a year (Korn Ferry).
In order to solve this problem, you need to look at the source: Ultimately, what stops people from wanting to take another job? Money helps. Interesting challenges help. Being respected and appreciated helps. But here’s the thing, we are wired for connection - not digital connection, but human connection.
Our brains have evolved to reward us for connecting with other people. Our ancestors needed connection within their tribes to provide safety. We evolved from there to need human connection.
It is nearly impossible to be fulfilled in life without having meaningful relationships at work.
In a recent Imperative study, we found that only 1% of people who report being fulfilled in life also report not having meaningful relationships at work. To put that another way - if you don’t have meaningful relationships at work, it is nearly impossible to be fulfilled in life.
In the workplace, people have fewer and fewer real conversations and make less and less time to truly connect with other people. As a result, only half of people in the workforce report having meaningful relationships at work (Imperative, 2015).
People spend almost 50% of each day on digital vs. in-person communication, and more than half feel lonely as a result (Global Work Connectivity, 2018). This is part of a broader trend in society that is being largely associated with the rise of technology. Social media, by many reports, is actually making us more isolated than helping us stay connected, as originally intended.
According to a 2018 study by Future Workplace, 60% of people would be more inclined to stay with their company longer if they had more friends. This was especially true for Gen Z (74%) and Millennial (69%) employees. It is also holds true with men (57%) and introverts (63%).
One of the leading indicators of success and retention, according to Gallup, is having a “best friend” at work. A “best friend” is someone who is trusted, can be confided in, and has our back.
In the modern workplace we have accelerated timelines and tasks, but in the process we have undermined the importance of trust and relationships. The deadlines are not going to slow down, but we can proactively invest in people to support the development of strong relationships between colleagues.
For the last two years, Imperative has been working to develop a platform to accelerate trust and build bonds between people in organizations. We have leveraged our research along with leading research in positive psychology to help quickly build meaningful connections.
We call it social learning, or peer coaching. At its core, it is a series of dynamic structured conversations between peers that allows them develop a bond while helping them expand both their personal and career development.
Peer coaching gives permission and offers a structure for colleagues to have real conversations. This is important for all employees, but especially for those who may not be skilled when it comes to social interactions and prefer less casual, water cooler conversations. Let’s be honest, most of us need to learn how to have real conversations again.
We invest close to 40 hours of the year on learning and development for our people. What if we used half those hours to have 20 peer coaching conversations with three to five colleagues across the organization? This would empower employees to engage in these meaningful conversations with peers across the organization roughly every other week.
The issue isn’t just employee retention - if we are unable to be fulfilled in life without having meaningful relationships at work, the issue is more focused on retaining our humanity. To the team at Imperative and our partners, that is a moral imperative.
Download our new white paper on peer coaching to learn why peer coaching can unleash employee potential at scale and how to deploy it in your organization.
We designed our onboarding to embrace new hires and help them feel a strong sense of clarity, confidence, and connection. It works for us, and we’re excited to share it with other HR leaders. I hope you can use this to create transformational onboarding programs within your organization.
Solheim sees the company as a social impact company that just happens to sell ice cream.