How to build a sense of community in the workplace and reduce employee turnover

Building a sense of community in the workplace is fundamental to attracting and retaining the very best talent and increasing employee engagement. Small companies through to corporate giants are more than familiar with the bugbear of good employees leaving prematurely and the impact it can have on the business.

Replacing an employee can be costly, (as high as 60% of their annual salary!) factoring in recruitment costs, training, loss of sales and so on. Plus, the effect of the drop in productivity can also prove inefficient. Much like a customer, it’s far more cost-effective to focus on retainment. But all hope is not lost, there are several things you can do to create a great company culture and a place employees don’t dread walking in to on a Monday morning.


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What is a workplace community?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s take a step back and understand exactly what we mean when we talk about a workplace community. Community in itself relates to a social unit with a commonality. Then we move onto the feeling of a ‘sense of community’. The McMillan & Chavis theory of on the sense of community has been broken down into four elements; Membership, influence, integration & fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection.

Referring those four aspects to how that translates into a workplace community starts to paint the picture of how important it truly is to a successful business. Membership referring to the feeling of belonging and identity gives people a sense of value and purpose. Influence relates to trust, expectations and hierarchy giving people a sense of direction. Fulfillment of needs in a workplace capacity relates to employees feeling rewarded and valued for aspects of their participation and work. Shared emotional connection relates to the relationships that we build with colleagues. Through spending time with one another close bonds can be built among colleagues creating friendships that drive an investment in each other and the company. This is where face-to-face interaction becomes key, which sadly due to the pandemic has been decreased. Hence, it’s critical to consider other ways of helping bonds to form through virtual interactions.

What can you do to foster a sense of community in the workplace and reduce employee turnover?


A shared emotional connection is one of the four key elements of building a sense of community. Holding regular events can be a great way to build community and a sense of camaraderie among fellow employees. It can also be a way to reward employees, showing them that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed which ticks another element of building a sense of community which is fulfillment of needs. With 69% of employees agreeing that they would work harder if they were appreciated, it’s hard to argue the value that a workplace event programme could bring. Consider social events such as a summer party or a pub quiz, team-building exercises such as an escape room, training workshops and even fitness sessions such as yoga.

Workplace wellness

A workplace wellness strategy is another great way to reduce employee turnover and increase productivity levels. The cost of poor mental health costs UK employers £33bn–£42bn each year, made up of absence costs, presenteeism and turnover costs.

You could consider implementing on-site fitness programmes and nominate mental health first aiders as part of your focus and dedication to healthy and happy employees.

You could also consider providing regular training for line managers on leadership and management styles. It’s important that a manager acts as a mentor, providing support that is needed to their team. These leadership and mentor skills would provide them with the tools to pinpoint stress in employees early on and to ensure they are setting clear and obtainable goals, providing recognition, encouraging wellness. With 60% of employees saying that workload is the most common cause of stress followed by 42% saying the way they are managed, it’s not something that should be overlooked. Mental Health At Work provide resources and training for employees and managers.

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Content and communications

A fundamental part of building a community in the workplace is of course communication. Regular communication allows you to build on the membership aspect of building a sense of community. If employees are more regularly hearing from you and being given informative relevant information, they are more likely to feel part of your organisation and understand your values. Internal communication such as digital newsletters is a great way to engage and connect employees. Start thinking of your employees like you do your customers. Much like a customer, you need to create content that engages them in order to convert. But, in the sense of an employee, the conversion would equate to productive, well-produced timely work as well as a satisfied, happy employee! Regular content allows you to reinforce your company values as well as keeping employees informed about things happening within the company. A report by Bambu found that 4 in 5 people felt that an effective communication strategy improves their productivity, and, 80% want their employers to keep them updated about company news.. Clear, consistent and relevant communication lay the foundation for an engaging workplace experience.

Internal content plan

Start by considering what the goals of the content plan such as keeping employees informed about company news or educational content to develop employees skills. You’ll then need to decide how you will distribute the content and at what frequency. It could be a combination of a quarterly newsletter and weekly bulletins that are distributed via email or a workplace engagement app.
With the shift to hybrid working accelerated by the pandemic, an internal content plan must include multiple platforms that are accessible from anywhere including remote locations. Building an internal content plan fit for this new world of hybrid and distributed working will be key to an engaged online community fit for the future of work.

Workplace communication platform

Utilising more effective communication channels fit for purpose is a great way to build a more resilient workplace culture. A workplace communication platform such as Slack or Yammer is a great way to communicate with fellow colleagues without encroaching on their personal space and time by using applications such as WhatsApp, or overkilling the use of email. Email was not designed as a collaboration tool and yet we are all more than familiar with endless threads, CCs and the yearn for inbox zero. It’s confusing and unproductive. A workplace communication platform reduces the number of internal emails sent but provides a professional space for collaborative or less formal discussions than required by email. And, conversations can be organised into different channels. The benefit of a tool like slack is that it can be set so employees only get notifications during work hours, and they can use both a mobile and desktop app fitting to their preference. It’s fundamental to implement the right communication tools fit for purpose so that your online community in the workplace can thrive.

Workplace design

Thought into your workplace design and the amenities within it should not be overlooked. A carefully considered design can increase productivity and overall wellness of employees. Today, almost anything goes; sleep pods, living walls, game rooms you name it. Long gone are the days of the dreaded cubicles. Today, you’d be more likely to find open-plan work areas for coworking but with the addition of breakout areas, meeting rooms and private spaces for when you need to take yourself away.

Sustainability is another key aspect to design that has an impact on workplace culture. Designing a workplace with sustainability in mind is not just good for the planet, improved air quality and reducing pollutants increases employee productivity and reduces costs. Having more office plants are even said to reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

An open plan office used as a tool to help improve the sense of community in the workplace and employee retention.

Today’s workplace design also incorporates technology. A tech-enabled workspace can foster higher efficiencies, connectivity among colleagues and provide data in which you can make actionable decisions that improve the culture and bottom line.

Employee engagement software

A great option for encapsulating all elements of your employee retention strategy and boosting your workplace community is to launch your very own white-labelled employee engagement app. It provides a digital layer for your company and a one-stop-shop for employees at their fingertips. You can work with a technology provider such as District Technologies, who will build and deploy your company’s very own fully-branded app allowing employees to browse and book events, keep up to date with the latest company news, book meeting room and coworking spaces and even use it as a digital key to access the office. You can provide a better experience for employees by making data-driven decisions on your engagement strategy by tapping into the analytics that an employee engagement software provides. You can also integrate seamlessly into other third-party apps and software, such as an HR platform or CRM system that you’re currently using.

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Book a demo with the leading workplace experience platform platform today to find out how you can build a cohesive, connected and collaborative workplace community fit for the world of hybrid working.



Improve Your Community In The Workplace with District technologies

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