What can you expect from a truly connected workforce?

Insight shared by:

Kiddy & Partners

We have heard much over the last few years about the challenges of connection in the workplace exacerbated by hybrid/ remote working.

Today I would like to share my personal experience of a truly connected community in the hope that it will shine a light on how, and why, we as leaders (and followers) need to actively co-create a truly connected workplace community.

For the last seven months, I have been volunteering as a Samaritan. I experience our branch in Aberystwyth as a truly connected community.

How? Every single person is there because they want to be and we are actively connected to the Samaritan purpose – fewer people dying by suicide and, equally, through active listening to enable individuals to find their own solutions and take their own decisions. At the initial engagement and ‘selection’ stage we are frequently asked if we can commit to this purpose and this commitment and its consequences are explored in depth so that when we do sign up, we can engage with hearts and minds. We are trained as a team and even though this was remotely delivered, the volunteer coaches create a safe environment for us to learn, make mistakes, be afraid, be delighted and be unsure. This environment is mirrored in the way we work on shift: with a leader who checks in before and after each shift for us to share our experiences and to check in on how we are emotionally. We look after each other on shift, regularly checking in on how our partners are doing and listening to support.

These connecting factors of purpose, absolute respect for those who use our services, an emphasis on safety, clear expectations, mutual support, and compassion are critical to binding this diverse and disparate group into a truly connected ‘workforce’.

What are the benefits of a connected workforce?

For the people who call? Someone at the end of the line who delivers non-judgemental support and who is well trained, committed, present, and emotionally resilient because they too are supported. There are 22,000 Samaritans volunteers and each of us is well trained, well resourced, and well looked after, responding to calls every 10 seconds each and every day of the year.

For the organisation? Samaritans couldn’t have existed for its 65 years without the dedication and skills of its volunteer community. Even in our little branch, our team is active in informing policy and the service, challenging the things that could work better. We are encouraged to ask questions, safe in the knowledge that our comments are respected and heard. We cover for each other, and we haven’t had a lost shift due to resourcing in well over 18 months. We are active ambassadors and fundraisers for the service, and we care about those who call and our organisation. Service levels are high and ‘performance’ is sustainably good.

For me? Being part of this connected community makes my heart swell. It’s not always easy to listen – in fact, it’s often very difficult, but every call is important. I feel I’m using my skills and building on them so it’s having a positive knock-on effect on my ‘day job’. I’m connecting with a diverse community of volunteers and people who call, and this is widening my perspective and my compassion. And I feel valued.

This article was authored by Ruth Bourne.