Workplace Camaraderie: The Secret Engagement Weapon
When we talk about workplace engagement, we focus on great compensation and benefits that even range from bring-your-dog-to-work days, an entertainment center, free snacks and beverages, and a gym right in the office building. Although well-being and wellness are critical aspects of employee satisfaction, these are not the be-all and end-all of workplace engagement. In fact, engagement is so much more about camaraderie than free-flowing smoothies.
If your employees treat each other like family or friends, then they can work better together. Camaraderie comes from the term comrade, which means friend, ally, and colleague. It is derived from the Latin word camera, meaning chamber. Literally, the word camaraderie means chamber mate and denotes a very close relationship among people. After all, whom do you share a room with but a family member or a close friend?
Camaraderie refers to employees seeing each other as more than just workmates, but also as individuals with dreams, families of their own, passions, hobbies, and interests. They see each other after work. They have fun, and they celebrate personal and company milestones. This camaraderie strengthens the office culture and makes employees work better, thereby benefiting the organization.
It Starts from the Top
But camaraderie is not built in a day or even a year. It’s a slow process that starts from the top. If the employees see the leaders coming from their lofty posts to mingle with them and treat them as equals, then it will also be easier for them to develop personal relationships outside the office. SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong makes sure that his employees know he values their contribution to the company.
Instead of staying behind his desk and sending instructions down to his workers, he takes time to mingle with them. He said this gives him a first-hand account of what they are going through down the tracks. It also empowers him to talk personally with the workers and assure them that their grievances are heard. Aside from this, Mr. Neo also makes sure to stop the blame game common in many organizations.
Set up Social Time
Too much work will burn the team out. That is also what’s forcing your employees out of the door. Set up a time for socializing and encourage people to share stories about themselves. It does not have to be a formal team-building activity (though that is a great idea). Sometimes, a dinner out with workmates is a better bonding session. But remember not to talk about projects and deadlines unless it’s a working lunch. Dinner or lunch out with friends from work should be about yourselves.
Make Employees at Ease
Organizations should prioritize making employees feel at ease in the office. They may need to be professional at all times, but that doesn’t mean they should dread going to the office. Make sure the office is welcoming. Small design changes and simple perks such as a good coffeemaker will go a long way toward making employees comfortable. Encourage employees to talk with one another and spend their lunch breaks together. That is what the employee lounge/locker is for. Let them enjoy a good meal together by giving them an extra 30 minutes at lunch.
Let Employees Participate in Group Projects
Some employees work better by themselves, but some shine when they work as a team. Encourage everyone to share their two cents when there is a group project. Even new members of the organization should join these projects so that they will feel more welcome by the group. Teamwork is about helping each other achieve the goals of the organization. When they push toward a common goal, they will be more engaged in their work.
Improve the Office’s Physical Space
Although employee engagement and satisfaction are not solely reliant on office amenities, the redesign of the physical space will help retain them. Try to avoid barriers such as cubicles and doors. Enclosed spaces are for meeting rooms. They are not for individual work unless you are the CEO or the owner himself. Create an open-space layout where workers can mingle, share ideas, and collaborate on projects.
You can build a better work environment by focusing on strengthening the camaraderie of your workers. The more satisfied they are with their work and happy with their co-workers, the more likely they will stay with the organization for a long time. Happy employees help companies achieve their organizational goals. There is no question that investing in employee camaraderie is the key to a more engaged workforce.