Business is all about relationships. We stress this a lot. Like any relationship, relations within the business – whether it’s between coworkers at the same level, or employees and their manager or employer – require attention and effort.
Establishing a framework and social support system can help people work more harmoniously together. How extensive and formalised these efforts are will depend on the nature of the business, its size and goals etc., but they work best as a cohesive set of initiatives aimed at creating an environment where people feel supported and empowered to do their best, both individually and as a team.
Part of the foundation-laying from a company perspective is thinking about what good employee relationships look like and defining how you plan to manage and guide them. You’ll also want to factor in how to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, so you can see what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve.
The bedrock is individual relationships and the individuals within them. Everyone performs a valuable role within the business and if all your team members feel understood and supported, the business can expect more enthusiastic, confident employees that get along with other people better and treat them better, be they coworkers or customers.
Good communication is fundamental. It helps build connection and understanding, linking people together. If the company fosters an open, inclusive environment where people feel free to raise issues and give and receive feedback, then staff should generally get on and work well together. You will have fewer issues and be much better placed to quickly resolve any that arise.
At an operational level, everyone in the organisation should clearly understand the company's policies and objectives, and know how their individual efforts contribute to its success. At a less formal level, opportunities for people to spend time together doing things other than working can help strengthen the bonds among team members and create a more congenial atmosphere.
That’s not to assume that everyone is a natural at prompting and managing healthy relationships; you may have to look at training and support. Giving people opportunities to learn and improve their communication and interpersonal skills not only imparts useful know-how, it's a clear indication that the business takes employee relations seriously.
As always, management needs to take the lead, because there’s no point expecting your team to act in ways that the business’s leaders don’t embody themselves. A healthy organisation-wide culture of teamwork, fairness, and mutual respect starts at the top.