Aug. 15, 2023
Positive, kind relationships are vital for people’s job satisfaction. They play an integral role in helping people to be their best. Being friends and spending social time with colleagues cultivates teamwork and collaboration. A workplace culture that encourages healthy relationships is good for motivation and retention. It also improves productivity and our sense of wellbeing.
Having friends at work makes us happy. Research by Gallup found that 30% of employees who have a ‘best friend’ at work are 7 times more likely to be engaged with what they do, produce a higher quality of work and have higher wellbeing.
Healthier relationships are one of our Unboxed values. Working collaboratively with team members, clients and stakeholders, good relationships are key. It builds trust and safety to challenge and support each other. When things are tough, friends and colleagues are our buffers and support system.
Spending time with colleagues away from the day-to-day is often joyful - dedicated time to hang out and catch up without the demands of our daily work. And it’s good for morale and relationships building too.
In June we had our annual away day. The morning activities included a company health check, a fishbowl discussion and importantly, lunch! It was really energising to be together in person and in a different environment. The activities gave us the opportunity to talk about a range of interesting topics, some of which we are continuing to talk about in Design Club and Wellbeing sessions.
Like many other companies, hybrid working means we’ve to negotiate and navigate relationships in a different way. In-person time with teams and colleagues is hugely valuable. Being physically near to people means we’re better able to read body language, gestures and emotions. ‘Coffee machine conversations’ and communal meals can provide a rich source of personal and professional exchange. We try to inclusively build all those elements into our hybrid working processes. But time together enhances our friendships and relationships.
We spent the afternoon Go Karting. A whole new experience for many of us and it’s fair to say, it got a mixed response! Team building activities enhance how people work together, and build friendships. You might spend time with someone you’ve not had the opportunity to work with much before. Learning about each other’s lives and interests helps shape perspective, empathy and understanding. All this translates to energising, open and trusting relationships.
Karting was fun. But it was a solitary experience of individuals in their own helmets and cars, racing each other. Next time we’ll do something where people have to work together. After all, it is how we work on projects. The idea of scaling a height is terrifying to me. But, on reflection, if I had my trusted friends and colleagues encouraging me, I’d do it and feel pretty good about it too.
There are some characteristics that are significant for good relationship building.
It’s important to know what you need from other people and what they need from you. It’s easy to focus on our own needs, but having a perspective on knowing what others need from us is often harder to see.
Listening well is a skill. And one we can learn. Practising active listening means you are paying care and attention to someone. We all want to be listened to. And it is instrumental in building trusting relationships.
Being intentional about showing appreciation or gratitude is an underestimated skill. It is a small act of kindness that makes others and ourselves feel good. Motivation must be authentic though. We are very good at spotting false praise.
Humans are naturally social. Healthy relationships free us up to be our best. A wealth of research shows us how negative and toxic relationships are detrimental to health and wellbeing. It causes anxiety, stress and burnout. Negative emotions and experience spread among co-workers in a fast paced downward spiral. Particularly in environments where interpersonal relationships are poor. Or there is a culture of bullying and ostracism.
Building good relationships is also an organisational skill. It takes care and effort to create and maintain a culture of healthy relationships.
We ended a great day with dinner and drinks and as I remember it, lots of laughs with friends.