We explore the value that building a community can bring to your employees and your bottom line.

Today, we’re more connected than ever. From WhatsApp to Slack, we can connect to almost anyone, anywhere in the world 24/7. Despite this, feelings of loneliness and isolation are still high.

In what we could call a digitally connected but emotionally disconnected time, people crave community. When a company becomes a community, it gives employees a sense of belonging and caring for something greater. This is particularly powerful for the emerging workforce. They value giving back through a meaningful role as equally important, if not more so, than salary.

If community is defined as ‘the feeling of sharing things or belonging to a group’, we can see that connection doesn’t equate to community. Other than bringing employees together under the same (albeit virtual) roof, organisations have much more work to do, if they want to build a thriving community; here we explore how.

Company Vs. Community

You can argue that both a company and a community have shared attitudes or interests. A company has a clear common objective that coordinates action. But a community has a shared spark that drives action.

For instance, at Grayce we passionately believe our curious graduates are a key part of the answer to the digital change talent demand equation. We are on a mission to help organisations witness the power of emerging top graduate talent. We give our people a platform to realise their potential, focusing on our values, continuous learning and building capability, so we can continue to develop the leaders of the future. That’s our mission. But our people are united by working together to reach their potential in their careers. That’s the spark.

Core Values

One of the best things about communities is the agile approach that they promote. Companies are grounded in rules and regulations. Communities are guided by values. This allows space to pivot and evolve organisations using core values for guidance. L4 Grayce Consultant, James Jones says: “What I like best about Grayce is the support network and the collaborative nature of the community. It’s changed so much over the last four years and I can really see that the HQ Team are constantly looking to make improvements.”

Being guided by values also inspires employees to make positive change. Our Grayce values – We Care, We Deliver Excellence, and We Succeed Together – are at the heart of everything we do. They empower everyone in the Grayce community to drive their own development and the evolution of the organisation.

Promote Change & Collaboration

Company rules can be seen as prescriptive, whereas community values can be viewed as empowering. Core values tie a community together, giving a sense of direction and promoting collaboration. But they also allow space for employees to be their authentic selves in the workplace. They can openly share their feelings, their background, their beliefs and religion – because they are bonded with their colleagues through shared values.

Our initiatives are created by and for our Analysts. This has enabled them to get creative and give back in many ways. For example, our ‘Pret Roulette’ networking coffee catchups, raising almost £5,000 for NHS Charities Together through a virtual walk, and shaping our diversity initiative, EveryOneEmpowered. Grayce Analyst, Emma Hooker says, “What I’ve found most valuable about Grayce is having so many networks – the ones I build from working on client sites and the ones I have with my colleagues at Grayce and through Grayce initiatives like CSR.”

Learn & Grow Together

Communities make a real impact whey they allow people to connect, provide support, advice and camaraderie. Graycians are passionate about developing as professionals and supporting one another to learn. Grayce Analyst, Jamie Stapley says: “The Grayce community is full of driven, friendly like-minded people. At my client we’ve got a tight-knit group of Analysts…who are a valuable source of support and advice. I’ve made some fantastic friends who I’ll be keeping in touch with long after I’ve left the Development Programme.”

Grayce believes in the 70:20:10 learning model which promotes the importance of learning through doing and collaboration. It’s strengthens connection and confidence when learning utilises community. That means collaboration, sharing knowledge and having safe spaces for discussion.

Be Authentic

Most job descriptions today don’t just explain the role responsibilities, they also highlight the company’s mission, values, history and culture. Today’s emerging workforce want to work for companies where they can do a job they care about and in an environment in which they are embraced and uplifted.

Prospective employees, colleagues and clients will know if your values are simply words posted on your website. Truly living by your values is essential to shaping a strong community. Grayce’s values are built into our proposition and the decisions we make every day. Anna Moore, HR Director at Pollinate says of Grayce: “There are other companies out there that do services like this, the difference for me is the holistic approach that Grayce has. They’re concerned about the employer and what they want, but also they’re concerned about the Grayce Analysts.”

Build Trust

By staying true to your values, employees can see that your community is a safe space. Trust has been especially important during the pandemic. How organisations have treated their employees in light of COVID-19 will make or break organisations’ future prospects. Many have stopped hiring graduates, getting off on the wrong foot with the emerging workforce – the people that will become our future leaders.

The organisations that led with trust are likely to have fared well. Employees trust their employer to make compassionate decisions. And employers trust their employees to do their best to support their community.

During the pandemic, Grayce have supported our people through additional communications, wellbeing guidance and extra (virtual) one-to-one catchups. This atmosphere of trust has ensured people feel informed, engaged and cared for. Having recently passed her Agile Practitioner exam, Grayce Analyst, Sydney Dawson says: “Reflecting on my first three months at Grayce, I’m really grateful to work for a company that values personal development, even during this difficult lockdown period.”

Increase Understanding

Creating a strong sense of community is a steppingstone to getting honest feedback. When employees feel valued and heard, they are more likely to open up and share their feelings. This insight is vital to ensuring your community is happy and engaged.

Engaged and driven employees are likely to be dedicated workers who are loyal advocates of your brand. Community is the heart that motivates employees to perform at their best because they believe everyone is working towards shared goals. Caring about their work, their colleagues and the impact they’re having on the world around them.

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