Does Your Company Encourage Strong Working Relationships?
Positive relationships with colleagues in the workplace have never been so important. Those relationships are obviously important to effective teamwork. But more than that, they are crucial to balancing workplace stress. The level of social support, that is, having a supportive work environment, is one of seven factors we consider when addressing workplace stress.
A supportive environment includes both managers who communicate clearly and consistently and peers who are there to provide assistance when you need them. Additionally, a supportive environment flows down from the top, where leaders actually encourage positive working relationships and they willingly address unacceptable behavior.
Symptoms of Unhealthy Environments
In an environment that is not supportive, you see three specific symptoms:
- Conflict: Employees and managers alike avoid conflict. In fact, you might see people walking down the hallways with their eyes downcast to avoid looking at people with whom they might have conflicts that need to be addressed. You will see people skipping company events to avoid potentially conflicted situations. And you will see leaders who refuse to address conflict and just let it fester.
- Cooperation: When environments are not supportive, you are likely to see the effects of silos where departments don’t support one another, or an atmosphere of “me” where people are focused on their own projects and achievements and fail to offer support to other team members even when asked.
- Frustration: High levels of conflict and low levels of cooperation inevitably lead to frustration. Progress is stilted, opportunities are withheld, and a general sense of annoyance permeates the workplace.
When an organization fails to ensure that employees have positive working relationships, there are high stress and disengagement levels. As a result, productivity falls, turnover rises, and customer service and quality suffer. In this day and age, no company can afford that.