Workplace relationships: Here’s why and how they are important

Workplace Issues
21 Oct 2022

There has been a significant transformation in the way contemporary workspaces function in the past decade. Technological advancements have shattered the concept of a static work environment. Office spaces are no longer characterized by definite job roles, specific work hours and solid workplace relationships.

Nonetheless, the need to maintain pleasant, stable workplace relationships is more relevant than ever. Especially, in an era when digital workspace dynamics are constantly evolving.

Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed 600 employees for its 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report. Among the top drivers of employee engagement, the report identified nurturing healthy relationships with co-workers as crucial.

Here are a few reasons why sustaining healthy relationships at work is essential:

Better productivity

Workplaces today can be seen as a microcosm of humanity, where having social relationships is inevitable.

According to research conducted by Gallup, employees with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be productive at work. The study also reiterated how good friendships at work can boost employee satisfaction by an impressive 50 percent.

Apart from ensuring productivity, workplace relationships can significantly impact job satisfaction and boost the morale of employees. They also facilitate team cohesiveness among employees. This, in turn, guarantees improved delivery of services from high performing teams.

Enhanced psychological well-being

Employees spend a good part of their waking lives at work. This means they are likely to spend more time with their coworkers as compared to their spouses and children. In this context, workplace relationships also satisfy people’s psychological needs of affiliation., a professional counseling company studied over 6,000 corporate employees in multiple cities of India in 2016. Their findings shockingly revealed that one out of every two employees in corporate India shows potent signs of depression.

Coworkers who watch out for one another at work also ensure they build each other’s self-esteem. This then can help keep one’s feelings of anxiety and loneliness (eventually leading to depression) at bay.

People who sustain good equation with their coworkers (even outside of work) are also more likely to cope with work-related stress better. This may range from handling a tight deadline to a poor performance review.

Key to building workplace relationships 

Leading Human Resource (HR) experts have repeatedly stressed how empathy is key to foster healthy professional relationships at the workplace. Small acts of kindness like saying thanks and complementing colleagues on a regular basis can play a huge role in sustaining quality relationships.

Adopting an open-door-policy to helping colleagues is vital too. While knowledge sharing and constructive feedback among employees is encouraging, cutting down on the blame game and idle gossip is equally important.

One of the key aspects of maintaining good workplace relationships also involves spending valuable time during after-work experiences.

However, in doing so, it is important for employees to set their professional boundaries. Otherwise, coworkers can unknowingly monopolize an employee’s productive time.

Importance of employee engagement

Two out of five employees surveyed in the SHRM study felt that good relationships were essential for better job satisfaction. A majority of 77 percent of employees were also satisfied with their workplace relationships.

Therefore, an increasing number of employers and HR personnel think it is important to facilitate better workplace relationships.

It is evident in the way corporations, both big and small, prioritize on team lunches, outings etc. These events or social gatherings involve several team building activities that allow employees to open up and bond with coworkers.

The transformation of digital workspaces has meant different people work in varied roles from different locations. In this regard, the challenge to create cohesive social bonds within workplaces is real and daunting.

Hence, it will be interesting to note how these employee equations will change with time.

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