What’s the key to having a meaningful job and achieving career fulfilment? These days, the answer to that question looks vastly different after the pandemic made us reevaluate our priorities at work. Employees are surer than ever about where they wish to spend their time, energy and social capital to achieve a true sense of purpose.
And the consensus is clear - our workplace relationships make up a significant part of our purpose at work, according to our 2023 Employer Brand research.
In today's diverse, and globalised workplace, strong workplace relationships have become more important than ever. They can help employees to cope with stress, build trust and collaborate effectively. They can also help to create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace to attract and retain top talent.
Given that we spend nearly nine hours a day with our colleagues and bosses at work, it's no wonder that workplace culture is becoming increasingly important. Healthy work relationships and mutual respect are the cornerstone of a positive workplace culture.
work relationship satisfaction comparison by region
A good relationship at work contributes to a healthy work environment, effective collaboration and greater job satisfaction. If you want to be successful in your career or business, it is important to invest in cultivating strong relationships within your workforce.
Read on to find out what good workplace relationships entail and how to build a supportive workplace culture where employees feel an authentic sense of belonging. Here are some tips for building long-term relationships at work:
4 benefits of building relationships at work
Positive work relationships have been shown to reduce employee turnover by up to 50%. Building effective workplace relationships is important for a successful business. Leaders who nurture these connections create a positive environment where employees who feel valued and supported can contribute to a well-rounded workforce.
Establishing good relationships at work with your peers and managers can lead to several benefits.
1. improved communication
Strong relationships go hand-in-hand with open and effective communication. One of the key elements of an effective relationship is being an active listener, signalling genuine value for the other person's perspective.
Good two-way communication is key to any strong personal or work relationship. Taking the time to listen attentively, provide constructive feedback and communicate with your team openly can help build unbreakable bonds at work. It also helps reduce many common misunderstandings that often take place at work.
2. increase job satisfaction
Positive relationships boost employee engagement and lead to a happier work environment.
Employees are more likely to be satisfied with their work if they feel appreciated and supported. When people are able to celebrate each other’s successes and achievements, it creates a supportive community and a true sense of belonging. By extension, employees are also more likely to offer a helping hand and collaborate on tasks to share workloads, fostering a comfortable environment for everyone.
3. enhanced workplace collaboration
Having good relationships with one another can open doors to professional growth and development. When employees feel comfortable with their managers, they are more likely to share ideas and collaborate on projects. This can lead to new ideas, innovation and better decision-making.
Employees who feel supported by their managers are also more likely to be motivated to learn and grow. They will proactively learn as a group as they find courses or professional seminars to attend together. This will enhance the workplace engagement and productivity as employees can leverage their newfound knowledge and skills to work smarter as a team.
4. a more represented and balanced workforce
Building relationships with employees from different backgrounds can help managers connect on a personal level and break down stereotypes and biases. When people get to know each other beyond their superficial characteristics at work, they are more likely to see each other as individuals with unique skills and qualities, rather than relying on preconceived notions. This not only strengthens individual connections but also creates a more inclusive and equitable workplace.
When employees have strong relationships with their peers and supervisors, it creates a positive work environment founded by trust. By promoting open communication and encouraging team building activities for greater collaboration, employers provide ample opportunities for their workforces to interact and grow their bonds.
how inclusivity and diversity redefine modern workplace relationships
Traditionally, employees have been told that they should always conduct themselves professionally and to leave their personal lives at the door when they come to work . They were expected to dress professionally, speak to colleagues politely, and refrain from sharing information from their personal lives at work - all in a bid to prevent their colleagues and bosses from thinking negatively of them.
However, this perspective towards work-life balance has changed over the years. Work has become a crucial component of people’s lives.
Employees want to be able to be themselves at work and feel supported by their colleagues and managers. They want to have the opportunity to work and grow alongside colleagues who celebrate them for being them, so that they don’t have to pretend to be someone else at work. In essence, it is no longer simply about bringing a paycheck home, it's about employee well-being and authenticity.
One prime example is the lack of support and protection for the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting the importance of driving equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) in the organisation. When people face discrimination based on arbitrary factors such as their age, race, gender or sexual orientation, they become reluctant to form relationships at work. It underscores the critical need for workplace inclusivity. Without it, they will feel unmotivated and frustrated at being alienated over elements that are beyond their control.
respondents who said that their employers do not support or protect the LGBTQ+ community
However, creating a safe environment at work where LGBTQ+ employees are encouraged to share their experiences can make them want to engage with their colleagues and bosses. Employers who take the initiative to lift these invisible but significant barriers create a more welcoming environment where everyone is supported to achieve their full potential.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for employers to foster an inclusive and diverse workplace where every employee is comfortable being themselves, feels valued and respected, regardless of their background.
To create a more inclusive workplace, organisations should promote diversity and inclusion, encourage open communication, be aware of unconscious bias, celebrate diversity and be proactive.
how to build workplace relationships
Employees want to work in a harmonious workplace where they are treated with respect and can build meaningful relationships that go beyond work. Beyond offering competitive pay, the onus is on employers to take a multi-dimensional approach to uplifting employee well-being, allowing them to effectively attract talent who share the same values.
Like anything else, building a relationship and establishing workplace trust takes time. The benefits of having good relationships with your colleagues can make your work life more enjoyable, productive, and rewarding.
Here are three actionable steps that company leaders can take to build strong workplace relationships for better talent retention and attraction outcomes.
1. encourage open communication
Encourage open and honest dialogue within your team, fostering a collaborative workspace where everyone can share their ideas and concerns openly and without judgement. They should also be encouraged to express their appreciation for their colleagues’ support whenever they can. Open communications can greatly reduce work gossip as people feel more motivated to resolve issues in a transparent and collaborative way.
As managers, this will also mean that you need to further hone your communication skills to form personal connections with your team. Take in any feedback with an open mind and be willing to apologise and take the necessary steps to improve your ways. A healthy personal or professional relationship relies on effective two-way communication to make decisions and achieve common goals.
2. be supportive and show empathy
Managers should be there to support their team members, both professionally and personally. This means being understanding when team members are going through tough times and offering them the help they need.
Being able to show genuine empathy and follow through with your promises is an attribute that few people have and can go a long way to build unbreakable bonds. By taking the time to understand employees’ perspectives, challenges and personal situations that may impact their work, employers can demonstrate real encouragement or support during difficult times.
Recognising important milestones and events in employees' personal lives, such as birthdays, work anniversaries or major accomplishments also helps to build a true sense of camaraderie and comfort at the workplace. You can send your colleague a birthday message or bring your team out for a meal after finishing a project to show your appreciation for their hard work.
3. foster teamwork and collaboration
Managers play a pivotal role in fostering teamwork and collaboration, which in turn contributes to building good relationships among peers.
Create an environment where people can feel included by allowing them to pitch in ideas, get involved in strategic initiatives and create opportunities for them to work and learn from one another. This also contributes to employees' professional and personal growth. At the same time, managers clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. When everyone understands their contributions and how they fit into the organisational structure, collaboration can become smoother and more effective.
By prioritising building meaningful team relationships, employers can create a more positive and cohesive work environment, leading to increased employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity - key performance metrics that reflect high employee morale.
Businesses can boost innovation and productivity by promoting a collaborative and open environment, driving success and satisfaction among employees and customers.
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