Building a Relationship With an Employer and Colleagues

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employer and employee relationships are crucial to creating a positive work environment for increased productivity and job motivation. These relationships develop on a solid foundation of mutual trust and respect. If you're a sociable person who enjoys interacting with others, there are ways to cultivate positive relationships within the workplace. In this article, we discuss the importance of positive relationships with your employer and colleagues and the strategies you can use to develop them.

Why is your relationship with an employer is important?

Your relationship with an employer is important to creating a friendly work environment that results in a happier workforce that's loyal to each other and the organisation. It promotes communication, collaboration and a dynamic company culture. It can inspire enthusiasm, boost productivity and is also a major factor in reducing staff turnover.

Having a good relationship with your employer means getting to know them. This involves more than learning how they operate in their official capacity, but also regarding their personal life, such as their interests and aspirations. This can create a stronger bond between you and your employer, resulting in mutual support and respect.

Related: Explore 66 Thank-You Messages for Your Boss (Plus Benefits)

Employer-employee relationship essentials

When forming an employer-employee relationship, there are several factors to take into consideration:

  • Mutual respect: Mutual respect between employer and employee is essential. Any indication of disrespect can negatively affect the relationship.

  • Understanding: Knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses and similarities and differences helps both parties to understand and support each other.

  • Communication: Open and non-confrontational communication is vital. It ensures both are working together towards a common objective.

  • Boundaries: There's a difference between a professional and a personal relationship. It's sensible to recognise this difference and avoid becoming too familiar, which may create tension in the workplace.

  • Feedback: It's important for both parties to give and accept constructive criticism to develop together.

Benefits to the company

A good relationship with an employer can result in an employee feeling more valued, which boosts morale and fosters company loyalty. While a healthy employer-employee relationship can benefit the company in several ways, it's also advantageous to employees:

  • Fewer conflicts: A collaborative workplace environment may result in fewer disputes or altercations. Mutual respect promotes agreeable teamwork.

  • Increased productivity: A positive employer-employee relationship helps to boost motivation, which may improve productivity and job satisfaction.

  • Reduced staff turnover: A strong relationship between an organisation's management and its employees helps to increase job satisfaction. Employees who feel valued and appreciated may remain with a company longer, which eliminates time and resources used in recruiting and training new staff.

  • Efficient task allocation: Employers who recognise their employees' strengths and weaknesses can assign tasks that match their capabilities. This helps to motivate employees and enables achievable goals.

  • Enhanced encouragement and support: Employers who help employees to overcome their weaknesses may help them discover new strengths in the process. This may promote job satisfaction and productivity.

  • Enhanced career prospects: The longer an employee stays with a company, the more likely a career advancement opportunity may be available to them. A good relationship with employers enables employees to prove their worth to the company and shows that they're qualified for a promotion.

  • Increased ability to recognise problems: Open and non-confrontational communication means employees can alert employers to issues or difficulties. This enables an employer to address and resolve problems more efficiently.

  • Greater sense of quality: In an equal opportunity work environment, employees feel equally valued. This promotes teamwork and may increase productivity.

  • Stronger reputation: Employees who feel valued are likely to be more loyal to the company and promote and recommend its brand.

Employer-employee relationship building

There are several things you can do to help you build and strengthen your relationship with your employer:

  • Personality: You can share your personality while remaining professional. Consider engaging in an informal chat about weekend plans or a special family event to learn about your employer's life outside of work.

  • Positive attitude: Bringing a positive attitude to work can help to reinforce your relationship with colleagues and your employer. Showing your eagerness to accept new challenges may persuade your employer to help you develop your skills and expand your work experience.

  • Dedication: Volunteer for new or more challenging projects and be proactive by showing initiative, such as sharing your own ideas and presenting solutions in meetings. This can show your employer that you're a valuable team member.

  • Meetings: Face-to-face meetings with your employer can give you both a chance to provide mutual feedback. This includes discussing goals, areas of concern, performance reviews, opportunities for improvement and possible promotions.

  • Recognition: If you admire your employer's work or work ethic and enjoy working for them, you can provide compliments. Giving positive feedback can help strengthen your relationship with them.

Building relationships with colleagues

Building and maintaining strong relationships with colleagues is an important factor in success and satisfaction at work. Positive relationships in the workplace have several benefits:

  • Job satisfaction: A good relationship with colleagues may result in a more productive workplace and increase your job satisfaction.

  • Job retention: When you're happy at work, you're less likely to seek alternative employment. The longer you stay with a company, the better your chances of career advancement.

  • Confidence: A strong connection with your colleagues may make you feel more comfortable when presenting reports or leading team discussions.

  • Productivity: Positive relationships can help to improve co-operation within a team, boost efficiencies and increase productivity.

  • Culture: A well-grounded connection with your colleagues helps to strengthen relationships and improve the overall wellbeing of both you and your team. This may also help to improve company culture.

Tips for building workplace relationships

There are subtle differences between developing relationships with colleagues and those with an employer. Here are several steps you can take to help you develop positive workplace relationships.

Personal skills

Understand your own interpersonal skills. These are the skills that can help you relate to your colleagues and build relationships. These skills include communication, respect, integrity, reliability, empathy and teamwork. They also include problem-solving and conflict management. Your skills may help you establish relationships with colleagues. Identify any skills you can develop further to help you strengthen these relationships. This may involve attending a training course in leadership or dispute resolution. Expanding your skills can improve your communication and collaboration with colleagues.

Related: Interpersonal skills: Definitions and Examples

Make time for relationships

Reserve time in your workday for interacting with your colleagues. This may be a formal meeting for a schedule review or project update, or it can be a brief discussion over lunch. Employers often arrange after-hours outings or team-building activities and it's often beneficial to attend these events.

Ask and listen

Asking questions helps you to learn more about your colleagues, both in their professional and personal lives. Asking questions without sounding interrogative shows you're interested and listening attentively to their answers shows you care about their opinion. Giving colleagues the chance to share details about their lives shows that you're approachable if they have queries or concerns or just want to chat.

Offer assistance

Offer assistance to colleagues when you're able to, such as providing guidance if a colleague is struggling with a task. Share some tips with newer employees on how to more efficiently complete tasks. If they're worried about meeting a strict deadline, offer to help if you can. Helping colleagues shows they can trust you, which is a key element of a strong relationship.

Ask for assistance

Asking for assistance provides an opportunity to get to know a colleague better and strengthen your relationship with them. Make sure your request for help is reasonable in terms of time and capability. You may be able to ask a quick question during a meal, but a more complex matter may require a brief discussion together with a manager.

Give recognition

When collaborating with a colleague, show your appreciation when they complete a task. You can thank colleagues when they assist you. Sometimes help may come indirectly from a different department, such as if the IT department patches an issue in your production planning software. You can also consider showing your gratitude in these cases.

Accept differences

Not all colleagues have the same approach to work and they may not have the same personalities, preferences or opinions. This doesn't necessarily lead to disagreements, but it's important to accept these differences and acknowledge that you're all working in the same team towards common objectives. Compromising differences and focusing on aspects you have in common can strengthen your relationships.

Related: How to Build Relationships at Work: A Step-by-Step Guide

Respect

Be punctual for meetings and respect other people's time. If you want a quick chat with a colleague who's busy on a call or email, let them know you're interested in talking with them and give them time to finish. If you're busy and a colleague wants to discuss something, you can inform them that you have some tasks to finish first and that you can then give them your full attention afterwards. This can show that you value their time.

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