The Power of Healthy Work Relationships

Infini Kimbrough
Posted by in Career Advice

Why do work relationships matter?

Work relationships are unique interpersonal relationships between people in different positions within a company or organization. Healthy work relationships are defined by effective communication, trust, respect, empathy, accountability, and support. Building healthy work relationships are vital to the success and overall, well-being of the organization and the people in it.

The benefits of healthy relationships at work include improved communication, better conflict resolution, higher employee engagement, greater workplace satisfaction, and increased productivity. 

Healthy work relationships yield improved communication in the workplace. When you feel comfortable around your colleagues and vice versa, you are more likely to engage in open discussion and confidently share your opinions. Consequently, effective communication results in better conflict resolution. The level of trust and respect between you and your colleagues determines how well and how quickly teams can find resolutions when challenges arise. All parties feel comfortable sharing their opinions in a safe space and accepting criticism and feedback in a respectful way. When this happens, employee engagement will be higher.

Employees tend to be more engaged when they are empowered to feel like they belong and have value in the workplace. Having a voice and exercising that voice is what creates change. Employees can use healthy work relationships as leverage for both individual and collective advocacy. The relationships you have with those you work with is your support system. Building healthy bonds with those in your work community is one of the many ways that we advocate for ourselves in the workplace—by being part of a team, you’re invested in positive outcomes.

Finding your tribe in the workplace and cultivating a sense of belonging is how we create greater workplace satisfaction. With greater workplace satisfaction comes increased productivity. Productivity is not just beneficial to managers and executives. Employees benefit from increased productivity as well. When employees are more productive, they reap the potential of increased compensation, bonuses, and celebratory recognition.

Types of Healthy Relationships at Work

You may be wondering what are the different types of healthy work relationships? When referencing healthy relationships at work, it is important to consider all types which include: peer relationships, manager-employee relationships, cross-departmental relationships, and vendor-customer relationships.

Peer relationships in the workplace are the interpersonal relationships at the center of every company and organization. Peer relationships are defined by the social interactions that employees and colleagues share with one another.

On the other hand, manager-employee relationships are at the center of employee relations strategies. The manager-employee relationship is defined by the interactions that the employee has with their manager and/or supervisor. Whether those interactions are positive or negative, plays one of the most essential roles in workplace satisfaction. Hence the phrase, “People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers.”

Other types of healthy work relationships include cross-departmental relationships and vendor-customer relationships which both tend to be mainly transactional at the core. Cross-departmental relationships require that you are aware of the various roles and departments within your workplace so that you can work together with other teams to successfully execute cross-functional tasks. 

As for vendor-customer relationships, customer service is your best friend. A stellar customer service professional understands that customer service extends beyond the workplace. People may not always remember what you did or did not do, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Keeping this in mind could help you to improve your approach to customer service.

Tips for Building Healthy Relationships at Work

All relationships are complex but there are ways to effectively build healthy relationships even in the workplace.

Communication is the nucleus of all relationships, both professional and personal. Effective communication requires honesty and transparency. When we learn to communicate openly and effectively, our relationships at work will be better. 

On the other hand, the principle of the matter is quite simple that even a kindergartener can master it: treat others the way you want to be treated. Always be respectful, reliable, empathetic, and willing to compromise in order to reach the common goal of everyone in the work community. 

Finally, self-accountability goes a long way. When we take responsibility for our own actions, it makes others much more willing to support and advocate for us.

The Role of Workplace Culture in Healthy Relationships at Work

Do you feel connected to the culture of your company?

Workplace culture is the one thing that creates a sense of belonging in the workplace. Without a shared mission, shared belief system, and shared set of values, there will be a strain on the relationships you have with those you work with. You cannot create a sense of belonging amongst those who have little to nothing in common. However, creating a positive and shared workplace culture is just as much the responsibility of the employer as it is the employees’ responsibility as well.

There are ways to create positive workplace culture without feeling pressured to be friends with all of your coworkers. Although the workplace can be the starting point for many lifelong friendships, and it’s okay if that doesn’t come naturally to you with everyone you work with. 

A Shared Responsibility

Healthy work relationships have the power to positively impact the employee experience. The amount of time that we spend in the workplace makes it vital that we create positive connections with the people that we work with in order to have greater workplace satisfaction. We all have a responsibility and a role to play in building healthy relationships at work. Whether it’s finding your work BFF, or simply breaking the ice and talking to someone you’ve never interacted with before, be proactive in building healthy relationships in your workplace.


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  • Weneeke M.
    Weneeke M.

    This is a great article with great information. Whether a person is new to work or make a return after layoff or similar, will benefit from knowing this.

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