Home Business Healthy workplace relationships increase your bottom line. Here’s how.

Healthy workplace relationships increase your bottom line. Here’s how.

by Ana Lopez
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Relationships have been a permanent part of professional activity since the dawn of civilization. Egyptian workers had to work together effectively as they dragged stones to the Giza pyramids. In the Middle Ages, serfs had to work together to grow and distribute enough food. Arctic explorers had to support each other as they searched for the location of the Earth’s two poles.

In the 21st century, the need for workplace relationships remains — even as things like remote workspaces and asynchronous work schedules change the way employees build and maintain relationships. Despite these challenges, healthy relationships between and between employers and employees must remain a priority for modern professionals, not just because they make work life easier. They can also directly affect a company’s bottom line.

What is a working relationship?

When the term “workplace relationship” is used, it can conjure up a variety of different images. Some people may envision an intimate connection with co-workers. Others may think of a great boss they’ve had in the past. They can also think of group events they have participated in.

These are all examples of workplace relationships at play. Forbes contributor and editor Chauncey Crail and Rob Watts respectively, define the concept of relationships among peers as follows: “Employee Relations refers to building positive relationships and interactions between employers and employees, helping to foster a sense of community within an organization on a broader level.”

In other words, the umbrella term “workplace relationships” applies to any positive relationship or interaction within the workplace. This is both a vertical and a horizontal concept.

Vertical relationships are important because authority figures within a company interact and make connections with those higher or lower in the org chart. Horizontal relationships are also important, as they bring colleagues together within teams, across departments, and even across locations within a company.

You can even choose to expand the idea to key clients, customers and suppliers. There is no doubt that the quality of those working relationships can have a huge impact on your happiness and success.

The nuance of “good” relationships in the workplace

One more thing worth mentioning is understanding what a “healthy” working relationship looks like. The term does not mean that everyone is your best friend. On the contrary, like the natural dynamics of a family, professional relationships come in all forms.

Some colleagues have such a strong bond that they become friends even outside the office. Others remain acquaintances with their fellow professionals, and still others rub their colleagues the wrong way. This spectrum of interpersonal connections is normal.

What matters is that you maximize each relationship to its fullest and most useful potential. Coaching guru Michael Bungay Stanier (popularly known as MBS) addresses this concept in his book “How to work with (almost) everyone.”

Bungay Stanier refers to this optimal relationship goal as “BPR” (Best Possible Relationship). “When you stick to a BPR,” he explains, “you commit to intentionally designing and managing the way you work with people, rather than just accepting what happens. With a BPR, you create relationships that are safe, vital and repairable are the foundation for happier, more successful partnerships.”

Relationships in the workplace come in all shapes and sizes. To keep them healthy, you don’t have to make everyone your bestie. You just need to focus on the BPR that each connection offers.

How do healthy workplace relationships affect sales?

The value of healthy working relationships is easy to see. When colleagues have strong relationships, they are happier. They are more loyal to their company and feel empowered to thrive in it.

The unanswered question is how this will affect your company’s bottom line. Let’s take a look at how some of the key benefits of relationships in the workplace have a positive impact, particularly in the context of revenue.

1. Healthy working relationships lead to better retention

When workplaces operate with healthy relationships, they cultivate a greater sense of loyalty within an organization. Naturally, as people connect in a positive way, they feel more invested and less willing to leave.

This leads to a simple (but significant) cost factor in the form of more retention and lower sales. SHRM calculates that the combined soft and hard costs associated with replacing an employee are three to four times the salary of the position. That is a considerable cost for a company.

Technically this is a form of cost savings, not increased sales, but it’s still important to consider. When healthy relationships improve retention, it keeps your employees on the job longer, lowering your recruiting costs.

2. Healthy working relationships lead to more involvement

When employees invest in each other, they feel part of a larger organizational culture. This compensates for the deep sense of loneliness that many modern workers struggle with.

Home workers often have the feeling disproportionately isolated and a substantial majority find building and maintaining working relationships more difficult than in a face-to-face setting. When a company encourages and facilitates relationship building within its workforce, it combats this loneliness tendency and encourages engagement and happiness.

Happy employees are more engaged, which affects revenue. They are generally more productive, collaborate better and work more effectively with customers.

3. Healthy working relationships improve employee development

Effective vertical relationships in the workplace are also important for continued development. When employers can understand their employees well, it enhances their ability to promote their professional growth.

On the one hand, when issues arise, employees can confidently communicate a problem or need to an employer, opening the door to working together on a solution. On the other hand, when things are going well, employees and employers can work together to find ways for proactive professional growth.

By quickly addressing problems and improving existing skills, employees become more efficient. In both cases, the result is a net positive for the company.

4. Healthy working relationships provide more insight

It’s no secret that diversity improves a company’s bottom line. In fact, several companies have statistically Happy employees.

However, to fully unleash the power of DEI initiatives, you need to look beyond your recruiting practices. You also need to develop healthy working relationships.

When a diverse workplace prioritizes good vertical and horizontal connections among its colleagues, it exposes those individuals to a variety of perspectives and worldviews. Employees with different backgrounds and experiences feel empowered to speak up and share their personal insights.

How to improve workplace relationships

Understanding the impact healthy workplace relationships can have on revenue is one thing. Improving your workforce relationships to tap those financial benefits is another. If you’re not sure how to foster better relationships in the workplace, here are a few thoughts to get you started.

1. Start things right

In his book “How to Work With (Almost) Anyone” (mentioned above), Bungay Stanier, along with defining BPR, offers a blueprint for improving healthy relationships in the workplace. This revolves around an activity that MBS refers to as “the Keystone conversation.”

This is a conversation that should happen early in a professional relationship. It is intended to dive right into important work-related questions, such as learning how a person has grown through past mistakes or discovering their personal practices and preferences.

The Keystone conversation achieves a number of crucial things early in a working relationship. It shares responsibility for the relationship, deepens individual understanding, and gives permission to talk about the serious stuff when things are both good and bad. If you want to create a structure to improve workplace relationships, this is a good place to start.

2. Set clear expectations

Expectations are everything, especially when you’re talking about connecting with colleagues you have to work with on a regular basis. When you create expectations, they create the framework within which a professional relationship can remain effective.

This is where it’s important to remember that workplace relationships aren’t all sunshine and roses and moonshine. Sometimes they are practical, and sometimes they just make the best of an undesirable situation.

Whatever kind of relationship you’re working with, make sure you are set expectations. Be clear about what kind of help and support someone can expect from you. Provide feedback and communicate often to keep everyone on the same page. Make sure everyone, including you, understands what they can expect and what others expect of them to keep the relationship running smoothly.

3. Develop yourself

Yes, we have already pointed out that healthy relationships in the workplace are an outward activity directed at others. However, to engage in and build healthy relationships, you need to start with a good, hard, introspective look inside.

What are the areas to build relationships what to focus on? Should you listen better? Do you lack emotional intelligence? Do you need better people skills?

Identify key areas where your own ability to build relationships is lacking. Then work on improving those items as you try to contribute to a healthy, profitable workplace.

Improve sales through better working relationships

Relationships in the workplace are important. On an individual level, they ensure that you have positive experiences during your work.

On a company-wide level, improved workplace relationships are also an important factor in maintaining a healthy revenue stream. They ensure that a company’s most important asset (the workforce) remains positive, focused and efficient while collectively working together.

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