The Impact of Community on Employee Happiness

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Sara Management 3.0

Does remote work sometimes feel isolating? Do you want to talk through complex problems with others? Or do you think that creating a work community will benefit your organization?

In this episode, you will learn about communities and how they impact employee happiness and well-being. Hear about practical tips from Sara Ramos our Management 3.0 community builder, as well as best-practice examples from companies she has worked with.

And if you are curious about Management 3.0’s own community – then keep on listening as we will have a special offer for our podcast listeners as well.


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. However, it remains in spoken English and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] Before we dive in, you are listening to the happiness at work podcast by management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness. I’m your host, Elisa Tuijnder, happiness enthusiast and management 3.0 team ever. In this podcast, you will hear insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated and productive at work so that loving your job becomes the norm. And not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday. So be sure to tune in and subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Does remote work sometimes feel isolating. Do you want to talk through complex problems with others, or do you think that creating a work community will benefit your organization?

In this episode, you will learn about communities and how they impact employee [00:01:00] happiness and wellbeing. Hear about practical tips from Sara Ramos our management 3.0 Community Builder. As well as best practice examples from companies she has worked with. And if you’re curious about management 3.0’s own community, then keep on listening.

As we will have a special offer for our podcast listeners, by the way, did you know that one of the management 3.0 practices is business guilds or communities of practice? You can learn more about them and other resources for your agile leadership toolbox on a management 3.0 website that is

Welcome back to the management 3.0 happiness at work podcast. And after a couple of months, it feels really good to be back. We are diving back in with an episode with one of our own one of our own team members in our management. 3.0, Sara Ramos. She is our community building builder [00:02:00] extraordinary, and I would like to extend a warm, welcome.

Hi, Sara, how are you today? 

Sara Ramos: Hello, Elisa feeling very good and excited to relaunch the podcast and yeah, to, to again, be in our listening listeners ears. 

Elisa Tuijnder: fantastic. So today we’re gonna talk about how communities can have an impact on employee happiness and wellbeing. But before we do that we were gonna we’re gonna ask the question.

We always ask all of our speakers and that is what does happiness mean to you? 

Sara Ramos: Yeah I obviously knew that word was coming. And I think the first thing that came to my mind was the word ease and this ability to navigate the ebbs and flows of life with some sort of ease and. I had second thoughts about it because it’s not [00:03:00] just about making it all very easy.

It’s I like a challenge. I like new experiences. I like to learn. So it’s not, it’s definitely not about for me, not about being still, but there’s the, it’s the, I guess it’s the sweet spot between feeling challenged. And not feeling like completely anxious, so not knowing what I’m doing with my life. So yeah, so somewhere there in the middle.

And at the same time, I believe happiness is a constant, so I’m never unhappy. I might not be I know content or something like that. I think I’m a pretty happy person, even when I’m 

Elisa Tuijnder: not feeling great. Oh, that’s great to hear. Yes. And I do hear you like having, not the craziness of life constantly, but I’ve never met anybody else that loves learning so much than you do.

. Yeah, I I can see what you mean. [00:04:00] Let’s dive in about these communities. So communities come in all shapes and size. So what makes a community what’s actually the baseline? What do we need to form an active community, but also an active work 

Sara Ramos: community? Yeah. A community is every time people gather or more than one person gathers around a topic or an interest.

And and. That when they do it consistently. So it’s not so much about an event where we do it once and we might not return. It’s much more about this consistency and regularity and really building a relationship with those people. So I think that’s probably what distinguishes a community from a group.

Let’s say that. And and I would say that in a work context we can have communities of practice and this would be when a group of coworkers [00:05:00] gather around a certain domain of knowledge or a certain profession even, or certain role or a certain topic that is much more work related. And then I was thinking.

We could also think about communities of interest. So for example, I’ve seen in some organizations, people gathering around topics that are a bit more about societal issues like gender equality, and that’s not necessarily a topic that is. Intrinsically related to the work that they’re doing, but is important for them.

And obviously it’s within everything they do, but it’s not what they do. And so I see that a lot as well. You were also asking me about like, How to form an active work community. And that is like the challenge. Every community builder has is making sure the community is active and people are learning from each other.

[00:06:00] And so I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but the only way to have it is to start to actually do it. And so if you have a motivation to gather people at work, just do it. And I know we hear that, that advice a lot, but it’s the reality of it. You need to start for anything actually happen.

Yeah. And then for sure. Yeah. And then everything is about persistency consistency in patients. So we’re talking about people who are often talking about busy people. And so things won’t be perfect the first time. It’ll take a while for people to build that relationship. And so even if only two people or three people or four people show up for the first 10 events just, or gatherings or what, however you gather how.

Build this community around just keep doing it. And it’s a really, it’s a big challenge for me because I’m certainly not a patients person 

Elisa Tuijnder: practice makes perfect. [00:07:00] Exactly. it’s tenacity to keep going. Absolutely. Yeah. You’ve been doing a great job in our community. We’ll have a talk about that a little later, but before we do, I just, I wanna know why communities.

Are important and why we think they have impacts on employee happiness and wellbeing. Why should we actually all care 

Sara Ramos: about these? Yeah. I’ve seen that myself as an employee, but also as someone who works with clients in around facilitation and learning and community I’ve seen a few benefits that are related to wellbeing.

One of them is reducing isolation. I think particularly now during COVID times and where most people were working remotely. We were very isolated particularly the people who were not used to working remotely. So I think a lot of cases around mental [00:08:00] health around isolation and not having the routines that we used to have, like commuting and all of that, that created a sense that we’re alone in the world.

Not just physically alone, but also we didn’t have that colleague next to you to tap them in the shoulder and say, Hey, 

Elisa Tuijnder: I’ve never thought I missed the commute. yes. To work. 

Sara Ramos: But I do sometimes. Yeah, actually, to listen to podcasts. That’s where, how I miss commuting the most. 

Elisa Tuijnder: absolutely. I used to do that as well.

I still listen to a lot of podcasts. Just thought of my commute from bed to the shower. exactly. 

Sara Ramos: Maybe like cooking. I think that’s my podcast time now. Yeah, but reducing that isolation and it’s not just the physical isolation as I was talking about, but. Having someone to ask a question or just literally feeling like we have all of these tasks and people are probably wondering if we are working [00:09:00] and and losing a little bit ourselves in that worry and in our tasks and the lack of routine and all of that.

And last year I was working with Unilever in the UK. And they did a very simple community activity, which was a peer to peer mentoring sessions. And these were they happen every two weeks, if I’m not mistaken. And basically people would come together, bring a challenge and then ask their colleagues for support with that challenge.

And that was it. It was very simple. And I. I heard that, like I was feeling so isolated. I thought I was the only one who had this challenge. And when you are in the community, you realize that you are not alone, because we let’s think about it. We are gathering about a certain. Topic that we care about and chances are that we have similar challenges and that [00:10:00] it reduces this sense of I’m alone in the world.

So that’s one of the things then this idea of similar challenges, it can also be the similar challenge in that moment. But also similar challenges throughout the career. And that again, reduces a bit of the sense of like I’m in adequate or the imposter syndrome or whatever we wanna call it.

It’s that I’ve been there. I’m a little bit ahead of you, but I’ve been there. It’s okay. Here’s a list of things you can do to maybe make it better. So again, this exchange and this sharing of experiences makes us feel a bit more okay, I can do this. It’s, I’m actually not doing anything wrong.

And I think that’s a huge support. I’ve also seen other benefits in work communities in the sense of getting support to figure out really complex and ambiguous challenges. [00:11:00] So another organization I worked with called invest in open infrastructure there within the US, but they work all over the world.

This is a nonprofit, and they are really trying to advocate and help people invest in open infrastructure in scholarly communications. And so this is a very niche subject. And on top of that, they are also trying to do it looking at the bigger picture. So asking questions, like how can we do this?

How can we create this advice for investment that is not keeping the same structures that create inequality, be it financial inequality, racial inequality. So this is really. A huge topic, very ambiguous, very complex. And when I worked with them, I could see how these people who were had the same interests in a very niche subject.

They [00:12:00] felt a bit alone. Again, like I don’t necessarily have a lot of people to talk about this and coming together, it, they felt less lonely and they also felt like they could create a safe space to disagree. And talk about this complex subject. So again it’s finding your tribe. And with that again, we feel happier.

We feel more sure of ourselves more at ease. And obviously this has huge impact in our personal and professional development and our, in the end, in our performance as well. So I think the benefits are endless. But I think this, these are some of the key points that I’ve seen happening. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: What I hear is from very small kind of examples, or not small, but easily implementable examples. Like the Unilever one, two incredibly complex, invest in open infrastructure where there’s a lot more [00:13:00] going on, but so that means that people can actually can start with these experimentations and with these with the smaller.

Tomorrow next week. It doesn’t have to be something massive to start off with. Yeah. Yes. For sure. Great. Yeah. Leading on from that or following on from that, is that being a part of a team that is tasked with like developing programs and activities? Focused on making work and community a better place, better that be inside their work communities or outside their work communities speaks to a purpose driven culture, which makes employees more engaged as they contribute to more than a company’s, but online, they feel like they’re part of a community or larger community and they’re doing something good.

Have you seen any good examples of that recently in your work in your clients? I’d love to hear some more of that, because I’m sure. Bunch of that out there. Yes, 

Sara Ramos: for sure. I think a very recent example that I haven’t experienced [00:14:00] closely, but I’ve seen it now with the crisis and the war and Ukraine.

We could see a lot of businesses. And a lot of groups of coworkers coming together and using the business as a platform to support this crisis. So we’ve seen, for example offices being turned into accommodation for refugees. And so I think this for me is an, a great example of how. Yes, an individual or a group of individuals not connected to an organization could still have done this, but literally they wouldn’t have the space.

And because they were doing this through a workplace, they saw an opportunity of. They looked at an office, an empty office because people, a lot of people was that’s to 

Elisa Tuijnder: say, yeah, they’re all empty. Or most of them are empty and they’re getting repurposed and for something 

Sara Ramos: really good. Exactly. So we are, we have this piece of real estate, which is a cost right now.

Let’s use it for something useful. [00:15:00] And again, I haven’t talked to any of these employees directly, but I can imagine how. Felt okay, we’re doing something that is useful. Obviously, it’s not a long-term solution, but in that moment of crisis having the opportunity to support. The wider community.

I think that brings us it would’ve brought me a huge sense of accomplishment and supporting the people around us end of community. Because imagine doing that with your coworkers, how have the bones and the connections that you’re creating with those people. So I think that’s a huge part of it.

It’s not a long term example. And I was thinking about an organization that I’ve worked with in the past quite think do this really well. And they’re called sub visual and they’re a portugese software company. And they are based in a very. In a somewhat small town here in [00:16:00] Portugal, which would not be like of a, I don’t know, it’s not Lisbon or Porto.

So if anyone if Portugal, Lisbon is the capital. Porto is the next big city. And this is where people mostly locate, like in any country, right around the big cities. And they are in a slightly smaller city and they are still able in the tech business to keep their team. And that for me is a use case.

As they have people who’ve been working there for years, like six years, seven years, it’s amazing when we know that in this business, in this sector, there’s so much turnover. And I think one of the ways they keep people motivated and with this sense of commitment and belonging and even identity to that business is the fact that they.

They give back to the wider community a lot. So they organize meetups. They organize conferences. [00:17:00] The way I’ve interacted with them in this way was they allowed, or it wasn’t even allowed. It was some employees wanted to dedicate time to teach people who were coming into the tech sector. And basically they took two full weeks of their schedule.

No questions asked. To go to the school that I was working at to support the students. And this was a huge investment from the company’s perspective, the company’s side. We also did a project with them where we went to their office and we spent another full week with them doing a project with the students.

And I think these, again, you were asking me about creating programs. For the wider community, I think that’s, this is a huge for me example and of how, [00:18:00] yes, you are basically giving time away to, for your employees, but yet they are giving back with this sense of pride of being there. And happiness and they stay and they talk about it, the company and the organization really positively.

And it’s almost, it’s interesting how it’s almost there’s no difference between they, I’ve never seen them say I work for a visual. It’s always, we are Al and that’s, I think a lot of I think a lot of organizations wish their employees could be as happy. That’s 

Elisa Tuijnder: that branding the branding, desire, dream people listening, working, and branding.

They’re like, oh, that’s where you wanna get to. Yeah, that’s fantastic to hear. And also. Being in that smaller town, it revives these communities as well. And I think that’s one of the silver linings of COVID and remote work that we might [00:19:00] explore in another time. But I’ve also seen lots of companies giving more more time to do volunteering at least one or two extra days.

On top of your annual leave, et cetera. Time that you get to, to explore and anything that you want, any volunteering that you see fit. Yeah. So we’ve been talking a lot about, so about making a tribe, making yourself proud of of the community or being part of the community, almost becoming one with it.

And and that’s fantastic. I think one of the other things that we should be mentioning around communities is that, that sharing of knowledge, or it should deep dive a little bit further into that. So learning is, in my opinion, one of the key factors here as well, would you agree and how do you facilitate that as a community builder?

Sara Ramos: 100%. I think this idea of sharing knowledge and learning is a central part of community because when we share experiences. [00:20:00] We are learning with each other. And I think in community, the focus is much more on learning with other people and not by yourself or alone. And also not just for your benefit as an individual, but for the individual of the group.

Let me say that again. And it’s. Also about learning with other people and not alone and for the benefit of the group and not for the benefit of the sole benefit of the individual. And I think that’s, that can be a shift sometimes when we think about learning, we are doing it for the others. We are sharing.

For the others. And then we receive a lot in return for, by doing that. So that’s it’s gonna be a different way of looking at learning. It’s learning through collaboration. So I think that’s made maybe a bit of a more. I don’t know, it could be even [00:21:00] a, almost like a philosophical reason to create a community to to change from individual to collective and how that has a huge impact in our in our world and how in, in my view, that’s how we’re going to solve the world’s challenges is by shifting from me to we. But there’s also a huge benefit for the organization because through sharing that knowledge and that information, we are breaking silos potentially in the organization.

We are making sure that knowledge is flowing instead of being spread around the organization. And everyone has a little piece, but in the end, no one has the full picture. And so coming together as an individual. Will increase the chances that information is shared and used. Which means that everyone in that space will have a better insight into how the organization works.

And that obviously has an impact [00:22:00] on the products and services and strategies and how the work that people do will impact to the company’s bottom line. So I think it’s it’s, to me quite obvious how all of this can support the ultimate goal of a business of making profit. So it’s not just about, fluffy stuff as coming together and holding hands and singing kumbaya there’s that?

So I’m all up for it, but it’s, there’s also the more concrete and serious let’s call it serious. Benefit of making sure information flows and that’s a huge part of it as well. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. I completely agree with that. Also, the tackling of complex problems is only gonna be able to be done as a we, we need people to think out of the box and we need to be sweeped away by something completely new.

In order to make leaps and bounds ahead. It’s not gonna [00:23:00] happen well , thinking alone most of the time. So that’s fantastic to hear. So obviously we’ve been mentioning about all these great stuff for community. We’ve talked about knowledge. We’ve seen kumbaya together to create our identity which is all fantastic.

But and so how have we been doing that within management 3.0, because we need to mention here as well, that over the time that we’ve been away with the podcast, we’ve launched our own community, our own work community with many people from across the world. So do you wanna tell us something about it?

Sara what’s been going on in there what’s what’s been happening. How much fun, how much singing has been going on? 

Sara Ramos: yeah no one else can see this, but there’s a huge smile in my face because this project. Really keeps my heart warm. It also gives me a lot of headaches by that’s the reality of life and of any community builder.

So if you’re thinking about creating your own community, [00:24:00] remember that there’s both sides of the coin. But it’s mostly been an amazing space where people are coming together to learn about leadership. To learn how to become Futureproof leaders. So this idea of what we were talking about discussing complex subjects of being able to shift from me to we.

So that’s, to me is one of, some of the characteristics of future proof leader. And basically we’ve launched in March. And for the last two to three months, we’ve been discussing management 3.0 case studies on live events. We’ve been doing practice sessions where we’ve been using management 3.0 practices to get to know each other better and also to keep developing the culture within the community.

And we have a private platform where anyone at [00:25:00] any point can share challenges and get the support of the community and a safe space. Yes. We’ve, it’s really interesting how the topics that people have come up with we’ve had someone say: this is my first time as a leader, and I’m going to have my first ever one-to-ones with my team.

What are your tips? So that those kinds of questions, another more experienced leader was preparing a program for first time leaders and they were also asking for, so have you done this in the past? How have you. Tackle these kinds of programs. Someone else was talking about company surveys and how to do that, and still make sure that people were feeling psychological safety.

And so there’s range of topic. And it’s really just a range of people. Exactly. That’s I was going to talk about that, like how people are coming [00:26:00] from many different places. So we have people in the US, we have people in Columbia and Brazil in Mexico, everywhere in Europe. We have people in Japan, in Australia and India in Nepal and these are some.

Only some of the countries that come to mind right now. That obviously it allows for a very diverse perspective on the topic of leadership. And again, we are gathering around this common interest of management 3.0 and so we have a lot in common and a solid ground. But we also come from different points of view and that is the richness of this particular community.

And yeah, I think that’s I’m thinking, I think that’s been the most highlighted reason to be in the community. It’s this [00:27:00] difference in perspective and as I said earlier, it’s from me to we and the we is not just the workplace or country it’s we the world. And so I think this is a huge benefit.

Yeah, I 

Elisa Tuijnder: think so too. I think that’s the uniqueness of this of this community. It’s very open. It’s very friendly and it gives you yeah. The perspectives from everywhere in the world. Especially while we were talking earlier about just tackling the complex problems is gonna be done as a we, and that’s really that place to do that.

So if people are now very curious about this community and about what we do there and they wanna have a sneak peak where they wanna maybe apply what what goes into that? How do 

Sara Ramos: they do that? Yeah. So first of all, I would love for that to happen. And so you would go to management3.0/community, and there you can apply to become a member.

And so you will be asked. So why do you want to apply? [00:28:00] What would you like to contribute with what you’re hoping to take from the community? And then if you are selected. We have a special offer for our podcast listeners. And you, if you use the coupon code happinessatwork, you’ll get 10% off on your first yearly subscription.

So as a small incentive, extra incentive, if you weren’t convinced enough to join us and to learn with us. That’s 

Elisa Tuijnder: fantastic, Sara. Yeah. And you can read more about some of the other benefits of the community like coupons and forward tickets, et cetera. Then just go to the, to that URL management 3.0/community.

You’ll find everything there. Taking us back slightly back to the meta level now, instead of away from the specific management 3.0 community. But so here at management 3.0, we’re all about tangible practices. And we always wanna end these [00:29:00] podcasts with things that people can start doing tomorrow and implementing tomorrow that doesn’t need a whole overall and a lot of senior buy in.

What can people do to start creating these work communities or even outside communities of interest around things that they wanna do? How should they start give them some tangible advice, Sara 

Sara Ramos: yes. I think links really well to the first question, which is just do it. And again, I know this advice is overused, but if you have an interest.

Gather a group of people who is, are also interested in the same topic. Maybe if you have a slack channel or a company chat system, whatever it is, just ask a few people or post a public post saying I’m interested in this. I would like to gather every month, every week, every year. I don’t know. I would advise [00:30:00] more regularity than just the year but invite them to join.

And once you have 3, 4, 5 people start experimenting. Community is a lot about experimentation is about starting with one activity, like a monthly meetup. And then if it works and then you allow it to grow and you see what comes out of it. And I would say that for the person starting the community, it can feel very personal.

If someone keeps the meeting or if they are not engaging, but. Remember, people are busy, they have other things. But for you as a community builder, just keep in mind, consistency, persistence, patience, and 

Elisa Tuijnder: all the good things in life. 

Sara Ramos: all the good things in life that 

Elisa Tuijnder: all of us could probably do with a little more 

Sara Ramos: sometimes.

Yes. Yes, I agree. But [00:31:00] the benefit in the community is that you’re not alone. And slowly but surely if people are engaged they, or if they’re getting value out of this community, they will start building it with you. And so it’s more organically. Exactly. So keep in mind building with not for people.

So if I could summarize my advice is first experiment and second building with not for. You’re here to build this with other people to take in. Your first idea is only one idea. Then it will evolve. It’ll grow organically and that’s how it’s supposed to be. So you are kicking the thing off.

But it’ll keep growing and have alive of its own. 

Elisa Tuijnder: I think that’s fantastic advice, not just for the community, but in general sometimes. exactly, absolutely fantastic. Sara. And [00:32:00] thank you so much for being here for the first episode of the new series season of the management happiness at work podcast.

We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got this year and in the coming months. So all that rest, all that’s left for me. So thank you so much. And thank you for your insights into the community. Thank you for a little bit more explanation on the management 3.0 community. We hope to see some of our podcast listeners in the community.

Now that’d be fantastic to meet you there and just not talk to you only over in your AirPods or in your speakers, et cetera. Thanks again, Sara. 

Sara Ramos: Thank you. It was a lot of fun to do this. Thank you, bye.

Elisa Tuijnder: You’ve been listening to the happiness at work podcast by management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness. [00:33:00] Be sure to subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review, share the happiness with your colleagues, family, or friends.

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