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How to Manage Workplace Relationships

Published March 29, 2016 (last updated February 9, 2023) - Face2Face Field Service Manager
Workplace full of work relationships

Workplace relationships greatly impact how we feel about our work, considering we spend 80% of our time at the office. Office relationships can vary from professional through to romantic, so it is important to know how best to manage them within your business.

Whilst workplace romances are not uncommon, the people involved need to take reasonable measures to ensure their work or the business is not negatively affected. While it is not essential to have a workplace relationship policy, it is a good idea for a conversation to take place between the relevant parties. This confidential conversation would highlight any changes which may need to be made to minimise the risk of any relationship related problems. In the case of an employee being involved with a manger or supervisor, it is very important to be aware of the romance. The manager or supervisor may need to be removed from decision making in regards to their romantic partner, in order to minimise the chance of favouritism.

However, not all office relationships are romantic. Having professional, productive workplace relationships can help create a positive and effective working environment. This can be done in the following ways.

1. Have a clear company or team vision.

Have all team members contribute to this vision, to ensure everyone feels included and inspired about the team’s goals. Team strategy days or meetings can be held to discuss how the vision fits with each employee’s individual values and role within the company.

2. Encourage teamwork through formal and informal team building activities and meetings.

Team members often work more productively if they feel comfortable and valued with one another. This can be done by encouraging team members to collaborate on a project together, or even by suggesting your team have lunch on occasion.

3. Coach your managers on the importance of having and maintaining good relationships. 

Managers need to be made aware of the importance of two way communication and setting clear and realistic expectations. Managers and employees model their behaviour and attitudes from the top, so ensure you are leading by example.

4. Ensure that great work is always rewarded.

An employee who achieves their targets should always be given praise or acknowledgment. However, make sure if one team member is praised for doing a good job, you praise all staff who are exceeding expectations. Only providing praise or positive feedback to one staff member may foster ill feelings within the workplace.

Sometimes working relationships are not always positive, and employee disputes may arise. Click here to read Employsure’s related blog on managing employee disputes.

It is hard as an employer to know how best to handle relationships in the workplace, as every relationship is different. Employsure can offer advice to employers who are faced with managing workplace relationships or employee disputes when a relationship has turned sour. Call us today on 1300 651 415 to speak to a specialist.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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