How to improve workplace relationships
Workplace relationships have been impacted by COVID19 and this has changed the face of the working environment, remote working has become more popular and because of this work relationships are not what they used to be. For many, the conversations around the kitchen, water cooler and desks have dried up, leaving people feeling isolated and much more task orientated at work. Remote working, re-entering the workplace part time, full time, there are so many different approaches to work in 2022. Many of us prior to the pandemic have been used to Friday night drinks, lunches and general office banter.
Throughout a typical work week, we spend more time at work then with our families and therefore will interact more with managers and colleagues than loved ones. The relationships we establish in our work environments play a big role in our mental health, professional lives and sometimes our personal lives as well.
Now I love a stat and I want to share some stats in this article as they have relevance into the impact COVID has had on workplace relationships. One of the important statistics coming out of COVID from McKinsey 2021 which has shocked many is that 96% workers have informed that the relationship with their manager has a direct impact on their wellbeing.
What we know is that the Great Resignation is being caused by people not being happy at work. 42% of people have said they left their job because of their manager and workers have stated they value relationships from organisation, manager and a sense of belonging in the top 3. When we look deeper we notice that 822,000 workers are currently off sick for work related stress depression or anxiety due to covid (HSE 2021). These stats are worrying not just because of the impact of work on our wellbeing but also the pivotal impact managers and the sense of belonging to a team have.
Because of this, it is important to reflect on workplace relationships and establish and maintain these relationships. This article looks at how to improve workplace relationships, how it affects your mental health and the statistics surrounding it. Your job shouldn’t be a place where you feel isolated and lonely, taking steps to branch out is a good way to reduce this.
Here are 3 tips to Improve Workplace Relationships
Workplace Tip 1: Get to Know Yourself
Knowing your personality and behaviour tendencies and becoming more self-aware allows you to understand yourself and realise what areas you can focus on. This includes knowing what your morals, interests, strengths, and weaknesses are. Identifying weaknesses like communication can help you develop your relationships both in and outside the workplace. Additionally, evaluating and playing into your strengths is important to understand how you can improve your own and others experiences at work.
The best way to do this is to explore your values and limiting beliefs in detail.
Start by googling a value’s list and highlighting what is important to you. There are many values tests you can do out there to explore this in more detail.
Another thing I suggest is to try is journaling. Have you looked into this before? It can be a difficult skill at first but by asking yourself some good questions and asking yourself questions addressing the self. For example, what do you pay attention to? What are you curious about? How do you handle time-pressured tasks? Asking questions like these can identify areas of improvements as well as interests that you can use to bond with your co-workers. You can do many different personality tests online for free to gain real insights into what makes you tick.
Alongside this it is important to become aware of limiting beliefs. Those niggling thoughts that hold you back.
As a DISCSCIPLE one of my favourite ways of supporting clients with this is to work out your DISC style. We are all made up of different behaviours and by understanding more about what makes you tick we can help you to stretch to strive to be the best version of yourself. This allows for deep reflection and we can coach you through the key reasons why you do what you do and what you can do about it.
Workplace Tip 2: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Improving your relationships with others at work starts with Emotional Intelligence. There is so much research about EI and everyone has a different number of how many EI elements there are. From social skills, to self awareness, self regulation, motivation and empathy each element is key when considering building relationships at work. By learning how to manage and handle our emotions we can work with and talk to others in an effective and friendly way.
Essentially, by developing these soft skills, your ability to successfully communicate, understand, interact, and empathise with people in a working relationship improve. Leaders and employees that have strong EI are more likeable and relatable to others leading to stronger relationships being created. Emotional regulation is a key skill relating to self-control and one you can focus on developing. Understanding what causes you anger or stress and helping you to stay in control of your emotions can seriously benefit your mental health, reducing anxiety and burnout.
One of the coaching techniques I teach is how to stay within your ‘Window of Tolerance’ to keep emotional regulation. This basically means that you are within your most effective zone where you can receive process and integrate information effectively. These are techniques we talk about all the time such as mindfulness, breathing,
Workplace Tip 3: Check in regularly
Especially with hybrid ways of working it has never been more important to find ways of connecting with the team on an informal level. Did you know 60% of managers have not asked their staff how are you during the pandemic. This is a statistic we want to change. Team building has never become more on trend as it is now. Arranging an annual/ quarterly meet up is so important when considering improving workplace relationships. But how can you do something regularly?
Many companies are now having a Monday check in: a 15 minute conversation at the beginning of the week to ask how people’s weekends were, and then again something on a Friday to check out how the week had been. When you consider most staff want to have a sense of belonging and feel valued by their organisation and manager these simple conversations can be vital in achieving that.
One of the key packages I am offering is a six weekly team coaching package. I usually offer a 2 hour slot which allows for an hour to talk through a wellbeing topic that is relevant and gain some awareness and practical take aways followed by time to talk as a team.
Workplace Tip 4: Offload Appropriately
Our jobs can be stressful and many aspects can annoy us. We all need to let of steam and have a moan about work-life: bad experiences from our bosses, customers or co-workers can make us want to vent and offload to relieve some of our negative feelings. This can be beneficial as it reduces stress and anxiety and helps to cope with uncertainty and build team cohesion.
Whilst, offloading is good in small doses, with a trusted few close colleagues, it is important to consider who you vent to. If too many people start offloading it can create a toxic work environment causing a split in the team. When this happens team members can get defensive
A better way to offload healthily at work is to work through a productive way that can create some outcomes and changes. Maybe that is with the manager, or maybe it is about self- reflecting and writing down what you feel. This helps with the “pent up” feeling and is shown to reduce stress.
Many people find exercise or 10 minutes of walking in nature can be a good way of offloading. You could also speak to loved ones briefly and encourage a ‘How was your day’ conversation. Making sure you offload work to enjoy downtime is so important so checking in with self care is as always vitally important.
How Workplace Relations Affect Mental Health
Studies have shown that good workplace relations are beneficial for your mental and physical health. Those who experience a sense of togetherness with their fellow colleagues and employer are less likely to suffer from burnout and have greater well-being, which motivates us to be more productive. Negative or toxic interactions between colleagues can increase your stress levels and sense of isolation, severely impacting your motivation.
Considering, we spend the majority of our time at work, the stress and isolation associated with work can slowly build up leading to depression, anxiety, or stress-related psychological complaints. According to the CIPD report on health and wellbeing in the workplace, ill mental health like clinical depression and anxiety is one of the top 3 short term and long-term reasons for absence. Additionally, prior to COVID, relationships at work were one of the major sources of stress for employees and this has intensified with the pandemic.
Workplace Relationships Statistics 2022
Some statistics surrounding negative work environments show that 42% of people reported verbal abuse was common in their workplace, and 30% reported that they yelled at a co-worker due to their stress. A study also found that London has some of the loneliest employees with 47% of them reporting that they don’t have a work friend. Sadly, this shows that toxic work relationships and loneliness is quite common.
On a positive note, a recent survey found that when comparing 2017- and 2021- responses to whether work friendships still matter, they found that more people are prioritising happiness over salary and that having a good work friend provides support. This indicates that more people are deciding to leave hostile work environments in pursuit of better work relationships, hence the Great Resignation has been termed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here we tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding how to improve office relationships.
- Q- How to Build Good Work Relationships?
- A- You can try some of the tips we suggested but here are some more listed: Ask questions, practice mindful listening, manage your boundaries
- Q- What Builds a Strong Relationship?
- A- Open and honest communication, trust, acceptance, and acting as part of the team
- Q- How do you Build a Healthy Relationship?
- A- Take the time to really be there, genuinely listen, ask questions to show you are interested and share information, studies show that sharing information helps relationships begin.
Only a handful of tips were included in this article, but further information can be explored through my website. Why not check out my other articles, join me on social media and get to know me.
If you want to improve your relationships DISC is a great way of working on an individual and team level. Why not book a free consultation and together we can discuss your issues and how we can work together to ensure you feel supported and comfortable at work.
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or.. check out my therapy and coaching page