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Why Workplace Relationships Matter

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Title: Why Workplace Relationships Matter

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When’s the last time you came home from work and thought, “Today was a really good day”? Have you had those thoughts and asked yourself what it was that made your day so great? Was the day good because of the work you accomplished, the fajitas you ate at lunch, or the client presentation you knocked out of the park? Or was it because of the strong relationships you have with your coworkers, leading you all to collaboration, support, growth, and camaraderie? 

Your thoughts about your really good day could be reflective of an accomplished to-do list, but it could also be from the positive connections you have with your colleagues. So which is it? And does it matter? The answer might surprise you!

According to SHRM’s 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, relationships with coworkers were identified as the top driver of employee engagement, with 77% of participants listing these connections as a priority. With a statistic like that, it’s clear that connections with our coworkers are vital to healthy engagement with our work and can lead to those wonderful “Today was a really good day” feelings. 

Building positive relationships in the workplace leads to:

  • Increased job satisfaction and productivity
  • Improved health and happiness
  • Vibrant company culture

Increased Job Satisfaction and Productivity 

We all want to do work that matters and do it well, no matter the career realm we find ourselves in. When we have strong workplace relationships, we’re more likely to see the value in our work and the contribution of our role to the company, which gives us motivation to be more productive.

Who wouldn’t want to work hard on projects, knowing that the work you do benefits your coworkers and clients alike? As we build better connections within our workplaces, we become more loyal to our companies, do better work for our clients, and feel more comfortable at the office. 

We also see increased job satisfaction and productivity through positive workplace connections because we’re better able to receive feedback from close colleagues. Accepting constructive criticism is essential to personal and professional growth. Brene Brown says, “When we build cultures at work where there is zero tolerance for vulnerability, where perfectionism and armor are rewarded and necessary, we can’t have productive conversations.”

If we’re willing to be humble and vulnerable, we can learn from our coworkers and grow to be better people and workers. This can lead to better communication in your role, and even new job opportunities! 

Improved Health and Happiness 

Loneliness is an epidemic in our overly technologically-connected world. We’re connected to more people than ever before, but more of our relationships are merely surface level. Working alongside people in a positive way can result in a significant positive impact to our health and happiness, reducing loneliness and boosting social connection.

A recent article from Illinois State stated, “Having friends fulfills a natural human need to belong, to feel supported, valued, and socially connected to others.” This sense of belonging, support, and connection can combat anxiety and depression, boost our self-esteem, encourage greater empathy, and even build trust, all of which improves our mental health and happiness.

So next time you step out of the office for a walk, consider asking a coworker to join you. The exercise and social connection combined will improve your health for the better!

Vibrant Company Culture 

One of the best parts of working for Design Extensions is our company culture. Not only are our core values posted for everyone to see on our office wall, but they’re expressed daily within our team. Among our 18 team members, there’s a wide variety of personalities and interests, but we all share the same common goal: working hard together to produce the best quality work we can for our clients. 

We work hard, but we also take time to connect with each other and build relationships with others on our team. We have team training sessions to understand how to work better together, we have lunches out to enjoy casual conversations, and we even get our families together at the beach. By investing in our work relationships, we build a stronger team that knows each other, trusts each other, and stays loyal to each other. Because of the connections we have with each other, our company culture is stronger and more vibrant.

Making People Matter: How You Can Do It

Now, how do we actually go into our workplaces and live this out? It takes intentionality and practice to build positive relationships, but here are a few ways to get started in your workplace:

  • Check in with your coworkers on more than just work
  • Get a group from your team to go out to lunch
  • Ask how you can help a coworker
  • Live the culture you want to see!

People matter more than work, and if you invest in relationships with your team, you’ll see the positive benefits in both yourself and your work. People like working with people they like and get along with. So if you’re an employer or decision maker, consider how you can foster genuine camaraderie and connection within your team, like:

  • Can you offer more recognition?
  • Can you ask for employee input on decisions that affect them?
  • Can you plan more activities so employees can connect with one another?

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, once said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Instead of focusing only on the bottom line, take some time to focus on how you can better care for your employees. When they feel connected and valued, you’ll see benefits within the whole organization.

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