With the exception of sleep, a job is the No. 1 time-consuming activity for the average person. Most people spend one-third of their lives at work, which equates to 90,000 hours over a lifetime. Now that’s a lot of time, especially if you’re not building and maintaining healthy habits.
This means your employees are spending a ton of time in meetings, in their e-mail inboxes, and interacting with their coworkers more often than they are interacting with friends and family.
The question is: How can you support your employees as they build healthier relationships in both their personal and their professional lives?
Healthy relationships are formed by building mutual trust, respect, and understanding. Empowering employees to cultivate and maintain these relationships at work and at home benefits not only the individual but also your company as a whole.
Workers who feel accepted, valued, and empowered are much more likely to go the extra mile for their team. The most important factor is nurturing psychological safety, which creates a space where employees are encouraged to provide their input without fear of repercussions.
Here’s how your organization can create an empowering environment at work by implementing social well-being practices in employees’ day-to-day schedules.
1. Create a Sense of Safety and Belonging
An emotionally safe work environment is crucial for your team members to feel like they can perform at their best. Employees need to experience a sense of reassurance by understanding just how much they matter to the team. Additionally, healthier relationships naturally begin to form when there is a culture of psychological safety. This means employees know they won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
A psychologically safe environment encourages employees to engage more and actually share their honest thoughts, opinions, and ideas.
Employee engagement correlates to many quantifiable benefits, as well, such as productivity, retention, and satisfaction. Happier team members are more likely to contribute equally to the team and help their coworkers do the same. In your next all-hands meeting or company town hall, dedicate some time during the agenda to thank employees for their hard work and allow others to recognize each other. You can also ask team leaders to identify some areas that can be improved within the organization and create an open feedback loop that allows employees to share their ideas and opinions, as well. Recognizing the value every individual brings to the table is a great way to ensure employees feel heard and appreciated.
2. Encourage Team Connections
Trust and loyalty are formed by diving beyond the surface level of the people around you. Personal connections help build deeper relationships, which, in turn, results in a much more collaborative and engaging work environment. A great way to encourage team connections is by implementing a wellness program. Whether the team is co-located, distributed, or a mix of both, wellness programs can bring employees together and create a more positive workplace.
You can also start small by hosting a weekly meditation session. No matter whether your team is in person, remote, or hybrid, a consistent mindfulness practice can help your employees feel connected and remind them to take a break from any stress from the day.
The success of a company is directly related to the success of its employees. When a team communicates effectively, productivity and efficiency skyrocket. Work is also far more enjoyable when there is a strong bond among coworkers, which is just another reason personal connections are a win-win for everyone.
3. Establish a Clear Source of Communication
Seventy-six percent of business leaders state that a soft skill like communication is more in demand and crucial than job-specific skills. The ability to communicate creates a streamlined work environment where any ideas or concerns can be voiced freely.
Every person has an individual communication style. It’s important for teams to learn and understand what works best for each team member in order to optimize daily connections. Do team members like to chat via Slack or e-mail? How quickly can someone expect a response to a message?
Identifying and explaining these communication “rules” for employees will reduce misunderstandings, mitigate conflict, and continuously develop interpersonal relationships. As a result, employees will repeatedly improve their communication skills on both personal and professional levels.
4. Advocate for a Strong Work/Life Balance
Healthy relationships help nurture a sustainable work/life balance, which is another reason advocating for overall employee well-being plays such a powerful role in the process. For many individuals, the balance between a job and personal life seems nearly impossible. However, balanced workers are typically happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with the company.
Studies show that employees take 26% of their work home with them, which likely creates tensions in their home life. Unplugging from the workday is crucial not only for personal well-being but also for building healthy relationships outside of the workplace. Managers should also model the act of taking time off from work by doing it themselves and communicating the value of it to their team.
Building Healthy Team Relationships Is a Long-Term Investment
Authentic connections are a vital part of personal and professional communication. However, empowering a team with relationship-building skills is not a one-and-done scenario. The key is to continuously find ways for employees to connect and continue creating meaningful experiences together.
It’s time to witness the positive effects that healthy relationships will have on your workplace.
D Sharma is the Cofounder and CEO of Wellness Coach, a workplace wellness platform that provides on-demand access to a vast library of tools, including guided meditations, workout videos, and sleep music. Wellness Coach also offers live classes that allow users to connect with doctors and experts in real time.