Building Effective Relationships at Work

We spend the majority of our lives working. With school then real world jobs, a lot of our time involves interactions with numerous people and hours working as part of a team. Because of this time dedication, it’s important we know our coworkers/team members and are able to build appropriate and effective relationships with them.

A 2017 survey from The Conference Board notes an increase in overall job satisfaction, as job security increases and more opportunities rise in the general market, satisfaction continues to grow. The highest sources of satisfaction rank highest with enjoyment of coworkers, interest in work, support from supervisors, and physical work environment. With the highest source of job satisfaction results coming from co-workers, it’s clear the interaction around us plays a major role in not only our happiness, but also our performance and interests.

In comparison, job dissatisfaction is related to promotion policies, bonus plans, performance review process, and recognition/acknowledgement. Most of the dissatisfaction factors relate in some way to co-worker interaction. When employees enjoy who they are around, they are more likely to enjoy their work and produce more efficient products. It is also important that employees find their environment fun/enjoyable, but that they feel valued and can share in open communication.

If you have noticed a lack of engagement, quality of work, and/or interest, we have a few practices you may want to implement.



When discussing work relationships, boundaries are a key component. This does not relate solely to limiting romantic relationships in the workplace, but also friendly/platonic relationships. Because we have entered into an era of socialization, millennials are coming into the workforce inclined to share more about their lives and connect with coworkers, while the baby boomer generation keeps strict social boundaries with coworkers. Although it is important to welcome conversation among coworkers, make sure the conversations remain appropriate for work – especially while on the clock.

Open Communication 

The old saying of “communication is key” has gone around for good reason. Whether you are friends, soul mates, coworkers, or enemies, communication is a must – and it also requires effort! No one begins any form of relationship with great communication. Make sure your communication is clear and thoughtful. Consider how others will react to what you are saying, and remain hyper-aware of how you explain, voice, and approach your ideas/opinions. The more you communicate and work on those skills, the more success you will find with coworkers. Also, when an issue arises, do not hesitate to discuss it. Fully listen to what people are saying and have thoughtful responses.

Team Building 

This goes hand-in-hand with communication, but takes a new shape. Part of learning good communication is learning more about how your coworkers think and respond to issues. Therefore, team building is a must have for establishing better relationships. It is important to note that team building does not require an elaborate retreat or weekend getaway. They can come in daily walks, working together to make a craft, or spending time together during lunch. It may sound exhausting to spend time with your coworkers during work and on breaks, but it pays off in the end. When planning the activity for your next team building exercise, ask the employees what sounds more fun/beneficial to the team.

Recognize Peers 

We all know the part in any relationship where you do a small (or large) task for a friend/coworker and they never acknowledge it. Not only does this dismissal take away from the accomplishment of said task, but it also makes you not want to go the extra mile again. Even if the task is part of the job description, it is important to acknowledge the completed task when it is correct and relays the desired product. Recognizing the work of those around you will excite coworkers and instill a greater sense of performance expectations.

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