The Critical Importance of Good Relationships Within the Company. What Is the Leader’s Role in Shaping Them?

“Good atmosphere” and “close-knit team” are terms that regularly appear in recruitment ads. Why is this so important?

The Critical Importance of Good Relationships Within the Company. What Is the Leader’s Role in Shaping Them?

“Good atmosphere” and “close-knit team” are terms that regularly appear in recruitment ads, cited in the same breath with benefits. This is not surprising, as it is often the relationship aspect that makes individuals decide to join a particular organisation. Why is this so important and how can leaders influence this area?

What does the quality of relationships say about the company?

Relationships with others are one of the six main areas of wellbeing highlighted in a nationwide survey conducted by Benefit Systems in cooperation with Natalia Hatalska’s The area[PH1] [MT2] includes aspects such as interpersonal interactions, satisfaction in establishing relationships and a sense of cultural belonging. The results of the survey are summarised in the report “Wellbeing of Poles”.

The identified areas of wellbeing intertwine and influence each other. Relationships, then, cannot be separated from such an important aspect of life as work, where we spend almost a third of our adult lives. The state of relationships is the de facto litmus test of an organisation’s culture – it says a lot not only about the teams, but also about the quality of management and even the company’s approach to social responsibility.

Meanwhile, the “Wellbeing of Poles” report shows that relationships with others – along with the comfort of life – are two areas we are not yet doing the best with. While we have a relatively good understanding of the impact of physical and mental health on our wellbeing, relationships continue to be off the radar. It is also disturbing that it was those in managerial positions who ranked relationships as an aspect of wellbeing that was not very important (only 47% of responses, while for physical health the figure was 74%). And it is, after all, the managers who largely determine the quality of relationships in the company.[PH3] [MT4]

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Why does it pay to maintain good relationships?

Relationships are not only one of the key pillars of wellbeing, but also of the effective functioning of the entire company. They have a major impact on the work atmosphere, level of motivation and commitment, frequency of absences, and quality of tasks performed [1]. By nurturing relationships, we make employees more satisfied with their work, and as a result, more willing to act. They are also more open to change and intrinsically motivated to continue development [2]. Lower stress levels, resulting from a good atmosphere at the company, also translate into better employee health.

The image aspect is also important. People who work in companies with a good atmosphere will be their natural ambassadors and are more likely to recommend them to their friends. Ultimately, this translates into more opportunities to attract new talent. At the same time, the risk of losing existing talent in the company also decreases. Lack of understanding with colleagues and supervisors is one of the most frequently cited reasons when considering a change in employment [3].

Good relationships consist of, among other things, respect for differing views, trust and inclusivity. An important issue is qualitative communication, based on dialogue, openness, but also on constructive criticism [1]. However, keep in mind that relationship building does not take place in an artificial environment completely devoid of conflict or rivalry. Interestingly, both can help achieve the goal, because led in the right way, competition can help unite the team around the company’s mission.

What can a leader do in the area of relationships?

The very nature of what makes up good relationships with others in the workplace indicates that the supervisor plays a key role in forming them. One of the key characteristics of a leader who effectively nurtures relationships is their availability. And it’s not just about time, but about being open to conversations or suggestions made by employees.

The boss should know their employees, their needs, strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to realistically step into the role of motivator and support their team in selected areas. This is why experts often emphasise that management cannot be based on simply delegating tasks and holding employees accountable for performing them [3]. The supervisor should be responsible for both business goals and the wellbeing of their team.

What can a leader do to shape good relationships in the workplace? An individual approach to each team member is crucial. However, there are also some universal solutions, such as:

  • Adequate division of tasks – inequalities in this area can negatively affect the atmosphere at work, as well as trust in the supervisor.

  • Open vertical and horizontal communication – that is, both with the supervisor and within the team (and between teams) – for this purpose, it is necessary to successively build a culture of communication in the company.

  • Regular appreciation – during a casual conversation or at a company-wide level. Importantly, it does not have to be financial in nature, it is enough to recognise the employee’s contribution to the project.

  • Fostering employee development – communication can be learned, so it is worth constantly training teams in, for example, conflict resolution or constructive feedback.

  • Nurturing inclusivity – many companies have DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) policies in place, but even in companies where there are no guidelines in this area, it is worth considering the issue of minorities and diverse cultures that come together in the workplace.

A wellbeing strategy as useful support

Building good relationships at the company level is also supported by taking care of the team’s wellbeing. Wellbeing is worth embedding in a broader strategy, not least because of the growing phenomenon of work-life integration, or the blurring of the boundaries between work and private life. This means that wellbeing must be looked at comprehensively, which requires a thought-out, strategic approach.

For the largest companies, this is also connected with the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) on the ESG area. These are measurable factors that are not related to economic indicators of development (social responsibility, corporate governance and the environment). In practice, this means that there are companies with reporting obligations in areas such as health (including mental health), training and development, absenteeism or working conditions. These areas are directly linked to employee wellbeing and are highly correlated with the atmosphere at the company.

It is therefore in the best interest of the organisation to implement a wellbeing strategy that encompasses all areas of wellbeing, including relationships. The complexity of this issue makes it imperative that the strategy be based on hard data. This can be obtained through the use of the Wellbeing Score, an innovative tool for measuring wellbeing at the individual and organisational levels. In this way, you can choose the right solutions that will positively affect relationships and the work atmosphere.

Useful tools for companies

The Wellbeing Score survey, which is a solid foundation for developing a wellbeing strategy for an organisation, also makes it possible to verify its results over time. The tool is available on the MultiLife platform, and each employee who completes the survey will receive expert recommendations to help improve their wellbeing in selected areas, including relationships. For this purpose, they can take advantage of the services offered by MultiLife, such as consultations with a psychologist.

Also useful is the MyBenefit platform, which enables, among other things, conducting employee surveys and giving kudos at a company-wide level. Support is provided also by the iconic MultiSport card. The company can use it for integrating the team through sports activities. Desirable results will be achieved, for example, by building a corporate team whose members will learn communication and healthy competition while playing their favourite sports.

Nurturing good interpersonal relationships within a company is extremely important, given the benefits they bring to the organisation and its employees. Importantly, leaders already have many tools at their disposal to meet this challenge.