December 2nd, 2022 | Sterling

Workplace Camaraderie: The Secret to Authentic Engagement

In 2022, workplace culture has never been more important.

Pre-pandemic, cultural fit was already proven to have a huge impact on a business’s bottom line. Now, two years after the onset of the pandemic, it holds more weight than ever. First, it’s important to consider that Covid-19 took the lives of over 46,000 Canadians, and that thousands more have lost a close family member. Along with the resulting mass processing of grief, there was also a 30% increase in employees reportedly experiencing depression as opposed to pre-pandemic numbers for the same poll. Their current state of mind is summed up in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report: “Whether employees are stressed because of work, or their stress is carrying over into work, one thing is clear: The world’s employees are feeling even more stressed than they did in 2020 (the previous all-time high).”

Employers have their work cut out in this area. Essentially, in order to retain employees, engage them more meaningfully, and yield higher productivity, workplaces must acknowledge how much Canadians have changed and adapt to meet their evolving needs.

Unhealthy corporate cultures experience high employee attrition rates and expensive recruiting costs, while extending the time that roles are vacant or filled by new and not-yet-productive employees. However, there is more to improving workplace culture than free beverages, a ping pong table in the break room or trivia contests over Zoom. A people-first approach starts with the belief that personal authenticity in all our interactions with others is the foundation of an effective, healthy workforce. With this in mind, a workplace culture of camaraderie is what HR teams should be striving for to maximize employee engagement.

Workplace Camaraderie Among Colleagues

Great rapport among employees is the key to a culture of teamwork and productivity. In fact, companies with highly engaged workers have higher rates of customer satisfaction and fewer errors. The saying, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses” has a positive corollary: people who stay in jobs stay for their coworkers and leaders.

Exceptional corporate culture occurs when employers value their team members, and employees know they play an important role in the company’s success. Every employee within the organization has a vital job to do, working toward common goals typically based on business targets and profitability markers. A successful company can’t be achieved alone, and it’s the recognition of that fact by all parties that creates a positive, productive environment.

A happy workforce is critical to building a positive work environment. In general, companies which have a highly engaged workforce experience less absenteeism and an increase in productivity. Employees like to feel that their work is meaningful to the company and that they are contributing to the business’s mission and goals. Creating a strong team is just one part of building that happiness at work. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report found that, while workplace wellbeing is stable, it’s not very good overall. Only 21% of employees are engaged at work, and just 33% are thriving in their overall wellbeing. Gallup has demonstrated that friendships at work can be sources of strong personal and professional support that can help boost an employee’s spirit and appreciation.

How to Build Workplace Camaraderie

Increasingly, today’s candidates are attracted to workplaces where they feel like they can be themselves. While candidates are looking closely at an employer’s workplace culture when job hunting, many of them are also looking for a sense of belonging with coworkers. Feeling like you belong in a group, stems from being free to be your authentic self around others, and when you feel that you have the freedom to bring your whole self to work, this can add real energy to your collaboration and creativity within your teams. Workplace friendships can be very powerful for organizations, leading to innovative discussions which help both the team and company thrive. These friendships are, of course, much more likely to arise when employees share the same values as their colleagues and their employer. Having the right hiring systems in place, including background screening and identity verification, can help provide employers with the insights they need to hire people who resonate strongly with their values.

When a team of people achieves together, enjoys each other’s company, and supports each other’s strengths, it provides the foundation for continual growth for workplace culture and organizational success. To help build workplace camaraderie, employers can:

  • Create a Company Culture That Encourages Relationship Building. An employee who is a good culture fit feels free to show up being their authentic self while believing in the company’s mission, upholding its values, meshing well with team members, and possessing a work ethic aligned with the expectations of the company. When employees feel at ease in the workplace, they’re more likely to engage in more meaningful and productive conversations with their coworkers.
  • Set Up Socializing Time. Get the team together for socializing events, like a non-working lunch, and encourage people to share stories about themselves. Ice breakers like, “What’s your background?” gives employees the opportunity to share their hiring/company experience in a way that can boost camaraderie. This gives the team a chance to get to know each other outside of the projects they work on.
  • Encourage Group Participation in Projects. Have the team work together on projects. Getting a new hire involved with a team project will encourage employee engagement. Teamwork means helping each other achieve the same goal, which is ultimately the success of the company.
  • Encourage Open Conversations About Mental Health. Candor helps reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. Make sure employees know that if someone seems stressed, overly tired, or having a really tough day, it’s okay to ask if they need help.

Workplace Camaraderie Enhances the Candidate Experience

Day One for a new hire is vital when establishing positive workforce camaraderie. Harvard Business Review drives home the importance of ensuring a positive first day reception due to nerves of being in a new work environment, especially for young people. A new hire should give everyone a reason to celebrate. Showing that the company is equally excited can have a positive impact. A new hire typically means that a company has secured a dynamic, exciting new employee or worker. On the other hand, a candidate’s life is also changed, and hopefully for the better: day-to-day, financially, and perhaps even in terms of purpose. That’s why it’s so important for employers to show their appreciation for their newest workers right from their very first day onward.

Employee engagement starts before the new hire’s first day, though. When a company provides a positive work environment, values its employees, and provides benefits to underscore that, it is well-positioned to recruit the best fits. Yes, HR teams should recruit for cultural fit for the organization, but also for the fit within a team. Include future coworkers in the interview process for qualified candidates and make sure they are as enthusiastic about the new person as the hiring manager or HR. Maximize your employee referral program by helping to ensure the best fits come from friends and former coworkers of your current successful team. New employees can easily be taught new skills, but they can’t as easily be taught to value camaraderie.

Every person you bring into your organization is unique and adds to your organization’s culture in their own way, and the hiring process is the first opportunity to recognize this value. The right background check provider will help you assess each candidate as an individual and for their particular fit for a role, increasing your confidence in hiring. In our new report, “Hiring Reimagined: the Future of Hiring and Background Screening”, Sterling’s Chief People Officer, Robyn Price Stonehill, expresses this feeling:

How can you embrace and assess your candidates as exceptional individuals, while still maintaining a sense of trust and safety for your organization? Sterling Backcheck empowers HR departments to provide a superior candidate experience with customized hiring solutions from offer to onboard. Building a strong culture starts with confidence in your hires. Sterling Backcheck can help you take the next step by offering a suite of background screening and identity verification services tailored to any region or industry. Learn more.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.