Working in an office environment can be a challenge – some days it can feel that the friction between individuals is unbearable. Ideally, we all get along with our co-workers, but sadly this is not the case. Some days it can feel like we have been transported back to school, with infighting, subtle slights and gossip negatively affecting workplace harmony.
This can really affect employee engagement and productivity. People report high levels of workplace dissatisfaction when they feel tension between themselves and their colleagues. While long lasting friendships and truly affectionate relations can be formed in an office, if the atmosphere is toxic, the opposite can occur. In fact, in some office spaces the feeling is so negative that people choose to resign rather than spend another day at their desks.
We spend a big portion of our time with our coworkers, and in some cases we see them more than we see our own family members and friends. In the best case scenarios, this means that we build bosom friendships with them that fulfill us and make us happy. These friends can bolster our confidence, support us in our quest for promotions and help us enjoy our working life.
That said, even an office with a group of harmonious friends (or at least employees who are friendly) still have one more hurdle to cross – management. While managers and employees may not be the best of friends outside of the office, it is a good idea that everyone be friendly. Building a climate of trust, amity and respect between colleagues and management is one of the smartest things that you can do as a business owner. But how can you create this?
Team relationships are the glue that holds employee engagement together
Your employees might feel underpaid, underappreciated or under stimulated, but if they like their colleagues, they may choose to stay on at your firm for years longer than they would otherwise! A series of strong peer relations can even help your employees look forward to their workweek.
Many organizations around the world are realizing this truth, and they are encouraging team building and socialization in order to strengthen these bonds. The stronger employee bonds, the bigger the boost to employee engagement in your company.
Remember – camaraderie is key! As a manager, you need get in on the action and build strong relationships and allyships with your staff.
Six simple ways to improve employee relations
- Try to reward teams rather than singling out an individual. This fosters a sense of togetherness and shared pride in a job well done.
- Encourage people to problem solve and work in teams.
- Have fun – look out for ways to engage with your employees and encourage them to share their own humourous stories, animal memes and personal anecdotes.
- Arrange team building exercises with a local firm.
- Have regular appreciate nights at a pub or a restaurant, and encourage everyone to invite their partners for the second half of the evening.
- Throw an annual picnic or BBQ for all of your employees and their families – even allow them to bring their dogs!
Managers can foster, dread, – and destroy engagement
A recently released survey about employee engagement conducted by TINYpulse shows that half of the employees surveyed reported dissatisfaction with their direct supervisors. This friction between management and staff can negatively affect your productivity, and have a disastrous affect on your company’s bottom line.
This does not have to be the way. Managers have countless options to help them work together in harmony and mutual amity with their employees. It all starts with a simple willingness to address the problem and find a solution.
Cooperation and communication – the most successful strategies
While a little bit of friendly competition can be fun and healthy, cooperation is key. This is all about everyone coming together and working towards a common purpose. This can be to beat a sales goal, to please a big client, or to beat last year’s target.
If you want to improve employee relations and increase employee engagement, strong communication is a must. This allows you to provide opportunities to your managers, employees and other shareholders, building stronger cooperation and understanding. If you struggle with clear communication, you might find that you are one of the managers who inspires dread and frustration in your employees.
Consider taking part in the following in order to boost your communication abilities:
- management and leadership efficacy seminars
- educational workshops
- training programs that teach clear and effective communication methods
- mentorship programs arranged with local guilds or business associations
Inspire your employees to come together on a regular basis
There are countless fun ways that you can bring your team together and allow everyone to get to know one another. Consider launching some of the following:
- Negotiate some fitness perks (e.g., gym memberships) with local businesses
- Volunteer together and help local community
- Organize simple sports competitions and challenges
- Invite famlity to the office – a family day can be a good way to build bonds between your employees
- Go to see a film or concert together
- Buy the office lunch more often – order in pizza, sushi or other favourites and invite everyone to join
Such shared experiences and activities can really help to foster friendships, as they break the monotony of daily work.
Have you tried any of these strategies? Do you have another option that you think we should include? Leave a comment below.