Culture & Community Are Building Blocks for Thriving Teams

In today’s fast-paced business environment, understanding the role of company culture isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential. As we navigate through the rapid changes happening in the workplace and we redefine what is important at each company, the significance of culture continues to rise to the top as the glue that holds everything together.

The 5 Cultural Keys of Collaboration, Creativity, Connection, Celebration and Contribution we defined in our book Engage! have stood the test of time and have become even more vital in recent years in how to make a culture tangible. They are the foundation of organizational success and employee fulfillment.

I want to focus on another word that is also vital to organizational success which falls under Connection but deserves a bit of its own spotlight: Community.

A sense of belonging is a basic human need. I recently saw a video about an 80-year ongoing study at Harvard about the importance of relationships and how that is what makes people have truly happy lives. It struck a chord with me personally because as I went through my battle of overcoming stage four cancer last year, I leaned heavily into my family, dear friends, colleagues, and various communities that I had to support me through that difficult journey.

Our workplaces have replaced the tribes of the past. It is often the most common place, outside of our families, where we can find that sense of community, belonging, and being able to develop as well. Friendships and good relationships at work truly do make a difference for our own health and well-being.

The research is there to back it:
• Employees with best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. (Gallup)
• A sense of belonging increases employee happiness and engagement by 2½ times. (Deloitte)
• High culture scores lead to 59% less turnover. (The Work Institute)
• A strong community can boost productivity by up to 12%. (Harvard Business Review)
• 90% of executives say community enhances innovation. (Accenture)
• 94% of employees would stay longer if their learning and development were prioritized. (LinkedIn)
• Deep relationships are pivotal for lifelong happiness and health. (Harvard Study of Adult Development)
• Loneliness is as harmful as smoking or alcoholism to health. (Harvard Study of Adult Development)

Cultivating a workplace culture that champions these core values isn’t just about creating a nice-to-have environment. It is about strategically investing in the social and emotional infrastructure of your organization to unlock high levels of engagement, productivity, and innovation. It’s about recognizing that at the heart of every successful business are people who feel valued, connected, and supported. Developing your people so you grow together, with a strong foundation of trust, enhances that sense of connection and community, which in turn reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and in the end improves the bottom line.

The insights drawn from the research give a roadmap for CEOs and CHROs striving to nurture a thriving workplace community. They highlight the wisdom and necessity of embedding the 5 Cultural Keys into the DNA of an organization. By prioritizing culture, and by creating a community or tribe where people feel a sense of belonging, psychological safety, high levels of trust, and strong connections, progressive leaders can transform their companies and reach their goals and objective much faster. What leader doesn’t want that?

Developing a culture where teams thrive and incorporating these principles into the strategic planning is a business imperative that can and will make a difference! The evidence is clear: companies that excel in these areas not only see improved performance metrics but they also foster a sense of purpose and fulfillment among their employees. This cultivates loyal, passionate team members that are the true drivers of innovation and growth.

The cultural road to organizational excellence is paved with the stones of community, connection, creativity, collaboration, celebration and contribution. As leaders, the choice to embark on this journey is ours to make. Let’s choose wisely. It takes courage to care about focusing on culture, knowing that the results will follow, because it often goes against the grain of what we have been taught.

The future of work is not just about what we achieve but how we achieve it—together. Creating a thriving culture is the key to organizational success on all levels.

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