Building Relationships at Work

  • Employee Conduct
a woman and a man high fiving by a window
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss building relationships at work, how to promote relationship building, and the benefits of team cohesion.

Building relationships in the workplace doesn't just happen overnight. It takes organised effort, communication and mutual respect.

Positive professional relationships at work are beneficial to your business. If your staff fail to bond with you - or each other, it could lead to increased staff turnover, low employee morale and poor job performance.

In this guide, we'll discuss building relationships at work, how to promote relationship building, and the benefits of team cohesion.

What are workplace relationships?

Workplace relationships are professional relationships staff have with other colleagues at work. These types of work relationships come in all sorts of forms - from employees who simply greet each other every day, to those who become lifelong friends.

Whether it's a manager and their direct report - or two junior team members, a healthy rapport between staff should be a key component of your business practice.

What are strong professional relationship-building skills?

Developing good relationships takes consideration and specific skills. Make sure you know which ones you need to build good relationships effectively.

Let's explore these skills in further detail.

Open communication and active listening

It's easy to overlook the importance of communication when it comes to building strong working relationships. But having an open dialogue with your team members will make it easier to convey exactly what you need from them.

Open communication is your ability to express ideas clearly, in a thoughtful and honest manner. It also means actively listening when staff approach you with work-related concerns. This skill can help when it comes to building strong relationships at work because staff will trust you to listen.

For example, if an employee has a dispute with a co-worker, they'll be more likely to approach you with the issue. This is because they know you'll try to understand their point of view and help resolve the problem.

Providing support and career development

It's easier to build relationships with employees if they can see a future career at your workplace. Meaning, as soon as someone starts a new job at your business, you should speak to them about their career aspirations and goals.

For example, you could make this discussion a part of a new employee's onboarding process - where you can find out more about their career and what skills they have. This will give you an idea of what roles might be suitable for them in the future.

It will also show staff you want to invest in their career, as well as reinforce that you would like to develop and retain them as an employee. In turn, this should help you build a more positive work relationship with them.

Respect and recognition

Another skill vital to building good relationships is ensuring your staff and colleagues receive respect and recognition. This means letting them know when they've done a good job, rewarding those who consistently perform, and respecting everyone's ideas - no matter their job grade.

For instance, you could introduce an 'employee of the month' award. This is where every month one employee wins an award for their hard work. You could decide this for yourself, or ask your staff to vote each month.

It might seem like a small action, but rewarding employees can encourage them to continue performing well. It might even drive them to pursue progression within your business, as well as make them feel valued as an employee. Ultimately, helping you to build a healthy relationship.

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

The benefits of building work relationships

You’re probably already aware that building solid relationships in the workplace is beneficial for business. But, even you might be surprised at what great work relationships can offer. Benefits could include:

More efficient working processes

One benefit of building positive relationships at work is that it can improve efficiency within your business. Meaning your staff will be able to propose new projects, meet deadlines, and resolve issues more easily.

This is because they will find it easier to communicate with each person in your workplace. For instance, an employee has an issue with their workload. If they didn't have positive relationships at work, they might find it difficult to tell colleagues what has happened, and ask for help.

But because of their positive work relationships, they feel comfortable admitting their issue. As a result, concerns can be resolved smoothly.

Increased productivity and employee engagement

Another benefit of building work relationships is that it might increase productivity and employee engagement.

For instance, your staff are able to support each other better because they have formed a positive relationship. They'll likely understand their colleagues' work processes, needs, and even skills.

Similarly, they are able to work out what makes each other tick. This makes it easier for them to work together to get the best result. As a result, you could see productivity increase.

Higher staff retention

A positive relationship with your staff will build trust, and ultimately show employees that you support them wherever you can. And from building work relationships, you might find an increase in staff retention.

For instance, staff might consider leaving your workplace for another role. But realise that it could be difficult to find another employer that wants to build a professional relationship with their workers.

As a result, you may find staff would rather stay employed with you. Because they know you offer a place to work that supports them better than most. Ultimately, you'll probably see retention increase, as you've created a workplace with staff that respect and work well with each other.

Improved job performance

Another benefit of building relationships at work is that it could also improve the overall performance of your team. For instance, as your staff and colleagues likely work with each other better, business processes are more efficient.

Not to mention, if you have provided clear plans for progression, employees will probably gain the focus and motivation they require to excel.

Consequently, you might find the overall performance of your staff improves.

How to build work relationships

Now you've evaluated what skills you need to improve upon, you can begin to build positive relationships with your team members. Let's explore the steps you should take to do so.

Address the power imbalance

Naturally, senior staff have more authority and work experience, but when it comes to your business requirements, you should ensure all staff are treated equally.

This will make staff aware that no one is exempt from the rules. And help them view you as a trustworthy person who keeps everything above board.

Schedule time with your employees

Ensure you make time for each and every one of your employees. Of course, if you run a bigger business, this may not be possible.

But, even ensuring line managers have frequent one-to-ones with their direct reports can ensure issues are resolved quicker. And encourage your co-workers to be honest and bring forward any concerns they have.

Organise regular social and team activities

Another way you can build a healthy work relationship with your staff and co-workers is by organising regular socials.

For instance, you could host Friday drinks in the break room. Or hold monthly team bonding activities that staff will enjoy. This will encourage co-workers to get to know each other on a personal level, and focus on how they can work better together.

But, be aware that some employees mightn’t attend events with alcohol for religious reasons (especially if held on a Friday). Ensure you consider their needs and organise activities that they can participate in.

Create a collaborative work environment

Creating a collaborative workplace will also help you better relationships at work. A collaborative environment is one where teams can get together easily and discuss projects. It should have areas for focus and team video calls, but also room for social activities when the time is right.

Without a collaborative workplace, it'll be harder for staff to build relationships with their co-workers. It could even isolate them further, and make them feel less confident about expressing themselves in the workplace.

Use a proper grievance procedure

Another way you can build a good relationship with staff is by using a proper grievance procedure. Without a proper grievance procedure, your workers might find it difficult to express any issues they might have. Not to mention, it could mean you don't properly comply with employment laws.

To avoid staff having disputes with a co-worker, discourage gossip and don't engage in office politics. Whilst it can be appealing to get involved in both, a key part of being an employer is remaining impartial. And finding an objective solution to help those who don't get on as well.

Get expert advice on healthy relationships at work from Peninsula

As an employer, you should ensure you build strong relationships effectively at work. This includes organising team activities and bonding sessions, having regular catch-ups with employees, and utilising a proper grievance procedure.

Failure to do so could mean your business faces high staff turnover, low employee morale, and poor team performance.

Peninsula offers expert advice on building good working relationships. Our teams offer 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips to help you stay safe and successful


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a woman clutching her stomach


    Is Endometriosis a Disability?

    Is endometriosis a disability? What support can you offer employees with the condition? Find out how to help them in our blog.

    Peninsula Team Peninsula Team
    • Equality & Diversity
  • people smiling at a desk


    Employee Engagement

    In this guide, we'll discuss what employee engagement is, why it's important, and ways to improve it in your business.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employee Conduct
  • three people sitting around a coffee table smiling


    Employee Morale

    Read our guide where we'll discuss what positive employee morale looks like, its impact on your company, and methods of boosting employee morale.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employee Conduct
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.