Camaraderie is not Culture

Lately I have been talking a lot with clients about trying to build or enhance a healthy workplace culture. Often, I hear responses that they already have a great culture because they have family bbq’s, go to team-building activities, and have great perks in their office for staff. While this is part of what builds a healthy workplace culture, it is not necessarily indicative of a healthy workplace culture. These are acts of camaraderie, whereas culture are the spoken and unspoken rules, the day-to-day interactions, expectations, and behaviours that take place each day in your workplace. Culture goes deeper than camaraderie. So, let’s take a look at how to build a healthy workplace culture.

Camaraderie is the glue that binds a team together, the shared laughter in the break room, the support during challenging projects, and the mutual celebration of victories – big or small. Consider camaraderie as the spark that ignites the flame. It’s the impromptu coffee chats, the casual workplace conversation and jokes, and the collective sighs of relief during hectic times that contribute to a positive atmosphere. Yet, for this flame to endure and illuminate the path to a healthy workplace culture, it must be accompanied by intentional actions and an awareness of the everyday situations that mold our professional ecosystem.

Camaraderie that can lead to a healthy culture, fostering an environment where individuals feel seen, heard, and valued. While camaraderie serves as a catalyst, it’s the ongoing choices we make in our daily interactions that sculpt the culture we inhabit.

For a workplace culture to thrive, camaraderie must be the launching pad, not the destination. The transformation from camaraderie to culture requires a conscious effort to embed shared values, foster open communication, and cultivate a sense of purpose and belonging that extends beyond individual tasks.

Culture is the sustained rhythm beneath the surface, the collective heartbeat of an organization. It’s reflected in how decisions are made, conflicts are resolved, and achievements are celebrated. A healthy workplace culture is not merely the absence of toxicity; it’s the presence of intentional, positive practices that promote well-being, inclusivity, and continuous growth.

Often, it’s the seemingly mundane instances that collectively wield the power to mold a culture. It’s the way feedback is given, the approachability of leadership, and the acknowledgment of both success and failure. It’s the consistency in recognizing and rewarding efforts, the commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the transparent communication that characterizes a workplace culture. Even more, in our current environment, it’s the flexibility given to a staff member to care for a loved one, to show up at their child’s performance during the day, or to work from home if possible.

Think about the rituals in your office – the weekly team huddle, the impromptu pop-by chats throughout the day, or the collaboration that takes place both before or after a meeting officially starts or ends. These seemingly routine occurrences are the subtle architects of culture. They create a rhythm, a shared language, and an unwavering standard that defines what the organization values.

As an organizational wellness consultant, I’ve witnessed the profound impact of these everyday situations on workplace well-being. It’s the manager who takes a moment to check in on their team member’s mental health, the leader who openly discusses the importance of work-life coherence, and the organization that invests in professional development. These actions create a ripple effect, influencing the collective psyche and setting the tone for a culture that prioritizes both individual and organizational flourishing.

In essence, camaraderie and culture are symbiotic – one nurturing the other. Camaraderie acts as the initial catalyst, fostering a sense of connection and collaboration. Yet, for this camaraderie to evolve into culture, it requires a deliberate and sustained effort. It’s about recognizing the power of every day, seemingly routine situations and infusing them with intentionality.

So, as leaders and key people in our workplace, let’s not forget that camaraderie is incredibly important, but it alone is not reflective of your culture. Invest in the everyday situations within our workplaces. How do we give feedback? How do we celebrate achievements? How do we handle challenges? These are the building blocks of culture. By intentionally shaping these moments, we contribute to a workplace culture that not only thrives but becomes a source of inspiration and empowerment for all.