Back to Basics: Building Positive Relationships in the WorkplaceFebruary 7, 2017 - By: Jason Carney
Whether we realize it or not, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work – which means our coworkers are the people we spend more time with than anyone else. How we feel about our workplace relationships can mean the difference between being excited to start the work day and being relieved when it’s finally over.
A recent study by Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent. This satisfaction can quickly turn into improved productivity and engagement. For management teams looking for ways to encourage more positive relationships in the workplace, we’ve compiled five tips as a place to start:
Appoint positive middle management
In the workplace, positivity starts from the top down. Employees look to their leaders for reasons to feel anxious or at ease, depending on day-to-day situations that arise. Fill middle management and leadership positions with people that are naturally positive and that understand the importance of keeping negativity and office gossip to a minimum.
Groupthink, a term coined in the psychology community, occurs when a group of people are insulated from outside opinions. To help alleviate this form of negativity in the office, make a point to mix and match different people on different projects whenever possible. Exposing employees to coworkers they don’t normally get to work with not only results in more creative collaboration, it helps cut down on the number of cliques that inevitably form in group environments.
Gossip is an inherently negative action that can quickly make any company environment feel unwelcoming. Yet, it is something we can all fall in to the bad habit of doing if we’re not careful. Impress upon company leaders the importance of refraining from gossip of any kind around the office to set a positive, inclusive standard for the rest of the team to follow.
A great way to build positive relationships in the office is to create recurring opportunities to show recognition – especially those that are peer-to-peer. Employees that feel acknowledged by their coworkers are more likely to engage back and seek additional ways to offer positive feedback in return. This naturally creates a culture of positivity with minimal effort.
Going beyond typical team building activities to create opportunities for coworkers to genuinely interact socially will help strengthen employee relationships over time. Company volunteer days, quarterly field trips to a sporting event, and any kind of shared meals or pitch ins are great ways to get everyone together and interacting differently than they normally world in the office. Staff will feel more comfortable engaging with their coworkers on work projects in the future, improving overall collaboration and creativity potential.
Employees that like the people they work with will work harder and invest more in their role in the company. Fostering strong workplace relationships starts with the management team and a commitment to a positive work environment for all.