Companies that play together stay together.
The world’s most successful and profitable enterprises have known it for a long time and have incorporated this philosophy into their values. For example, Zappos, the online shoe retailer with over $1.2 billion in sales, fosters fun and friendships as part of its corporate culture. Many other world-renowned companies, like Google, Dropbox, and Southwest — have great reputations for fostering comradeship at work. Camaraderie at work has become such a desirable quality for employees that in 2015, Fortune magazine compiled its first-ever list of the Best Workplaces for Camaraderie, in partnership with the Great Place to Work Program, the global authority on building, sustaining and recognizing high-trust organizational cultures.
To compile their list, Fortune polled more than 250,000 employees at 600 companies to see which ones enjoy the best personal connections with their colleagues and managers, how comfortable people feel being themselves at work, and most importantly, how people feel about each company’s overall friendliness and accommodating nature with regard to workplace enjoyment.
The power of camaraderie at work
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D. and President of Adelphi University, writes “Research shows that workers are happier in their jobs when they have friendships with co-workers. Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. Close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work”.
She cautions, however, that camaraderie is about more than just having fun. “It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together.” Studies of soldiers in battle have demonstrated that they form strong bonds during missions partly because they believe in the purpose of the mission, but also because they rely on each other and share good and bad experiences as a team. In this instance, camaraderie promotes a type of group loyalty that results in a shared commitment to the work. This same type of group loyalty can be found in companies where camaraderie is not only encouraged and but is a core value.
How to boost camaraderie in your company
It can begin with something as simple as a birthday party for someone on your team. A Halloween celebration with silly costumes and prizes. Or a monthly breakfast meeting – with no agenda except to get to know each other better. The point is to begin taking camaraderie seriously. There are lots of easy ways to integrate camaraderie-building elements into your workplace:
- Organize once-a-month happy hours outside of the office. With or without alcohol, everyone loves to raise a glass together and laugh and gossip.
- Inaugurate a fitness program and get everyone on board by offering little rewards for those who best stick to the plan: special Post-it note holders, coupons for free massages…
- Invite the troops to sports event: perhaps a basketball or soccer game. There are probably lots of people in your company who have never been to one!
- Get together to give back: ask your employees for suggestions and have everyone vote on which they’d like to do. You’ll not only do good for others… you’ll learn a lot about what’s important to your people before you even get started.