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Should solving the connection crisis be 2022's biggest priority?

The Great Resignation phenomenon dominated headlines last year and highlighted that companies are struggling to adapt to the new expectations of work. As people continue to reconsider their priorities, employee loyalty is at breaking point and resignations are still stacking up.

People leave businesses for different reasons. Some are looking for more flexibility and are seeking the nirvana of work-life balance. Others can sense a shift in the power dynamic between employer and employee again and a return to presenteeism. And some simply want more money, a step-up, or the excitement of a new challenge.

To stop the rate of attrition and the high cost of replacing employees, companies are offering increased compensation where they can, bolstering wellness programmes and upping perks. They are reviewing flexible and remote working policies, and ditching traditional working patterns by introducing four-day weeks or in Arup’s case, empowering full time employees to spread their work over seven days, at their discretion.

While giving people flexibility matters more than ever, the real challenge facing businesses is a lack of connection – with the organisation, with customers and amongst colleagues. After a sustained period of isolation, people are feeling untethered from the companies they work for. We may all have better technology at our fingertips, but team bonds have still been weakened, the connection with customer has deteriorated, and at worst, disinterest has set in.

So, as we move towards a truly hybrid future, should 2022 be the year that we re-establish connection and start to put more value on relationships? This is where we would start.


Hybrid working challenged even the strongest cultures, and many businesses are now feeling the pressure of two years of remote working. With employee value propositions designed for a different era, companies are having to reimagine how they create the conditions for their culture to thrive. Many need to completely rethink the experience they need to create in future to continue to attract and retain talent. To foster connection, we should focus on rebuilding community, create a sense of belonging and re-establish a shared sense of purpose. We  need to find opportunities for people to connect meaningfully in a hybrid environment and interact beyond their own teams to reignite productivity, deepen collaboration, and break down silos.  

One hallmark of a successful culture is when people believe they are continually valued for the contribution they are making and feel a tangible human connection to their purpose within a company. That starts with all employees being crystal clear on a business’ vision for the future, the strategy that’s going to enable them to deliver that vision and a solid understanding of how they, as individuals, contribute to its delivery. Involve people in shaping the future so that they have skin in the game, and ensure their contributions are recognised, so they feel a sense of ownership, loyalty and ultimately, connection to what they do and who they work for.

Face-to-face interaction

We are social animals who thrive when we feel we’re part of a community and social connections are vital for our wellbeing. Even with slickest technology, it is very difficult to solidify connections without any face-to-face interaction. Even if a team is largely working remotely, we need to intentionally create moments for people to come together. It will boost connection, solidify relationships, and improve innovation - all of which will lead to business growth.

Support your line managers

Line managers have never been under so much pressure. The scope of their role has expanded over the last two years, and they have been grappling with the shifting expectations of their teams. The most successful organisations recognise this burden and are stepping in to offer better support. Manager’s priorities need to be simplified, their roles redefined, and communication skills sharpened for the hybrid environment. They need to be given the tools to engage their teams successfully, strengthen relationships and intentionally foster connection.

Storytelling with heart

During COVID-19, employees were bombarded with an unprecedented amount of content and information. 2022 needs to see a return to simple but emotional storytelling – active, not passive content that genuinely inspires action. Within every story shared, the human elements that people are most likely to care about need to be amplified and storytellers, particularly leaders, must find a way to tap into their audience’s innate needs and interests to forge connection.

Leave no one behind

Hybrid working is not accessible to all - not everyone can be offered true flexibility because of the very nature of their roles. Companies have to work harder to create a consistent and equitable experience for all - that too entails a redesign of the employee value proposition. Everyone should feel connected to a business, irrespective of where they sit within the organisation, and we need to proactively identify and break down barriers when they arise, look across the employee lifecycle to find critical moments of connection for different role profiles, and overcome bias.

If you want to dive deeper and need help reconnecting your people to your business, we’d love to help. You can reach the team at hello@unitedcultureco.com.  

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash