his is the final part of our blog series The Value of Strong Workplace Relationships. In part 1 we focused on why positive workplace relationships are integral to a business. Now, in part 2, we will discuss some practices we have in place that allow us to facilitate strong workplace relationships. We will talk specifically about how and why each practice is beneficial to our employees.
Psychological safety is a term we have recently come across but a practice we have had in place since we began our journey. The term is defined as the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. The more comfortable employees feel to discuss ideas, questions, concerns, and/or mistakes the stronger a relationship they can build as they begin to learn more about each other and the way they work.
The Benefits of psychological safety are aligned with the rest of the practices we will mention in this blog, but this is the steppingstone that allows for all the other practices we will mention to manifest. Being an advocate of psychological safety will help increase your employee’s problem-solving skills, become a catalyst for collaborative working, and aid employees when adapting to change because they are not scared to ask questions or make suggestions.
Network of support (Mindful Listening)
Building a strong network of support within your company is integral when it comes to employee retention and performance. In 2019 In the state of Oregon, USA, a new bill was passed which allowed students to take 5 mental health days within a 3-month period. If these full 5 days are used up, then the student will be referred to professional help which will allow them to address the relevant problems. This kind of approach to mental health is progressive and positive and it’s the next natural step from psychological safety that your business can take.
We aren’t telling you to let your employees take every day off in the name of mental health, but it’s important to provide room for them to breathe if they are having a rough patch or if they require some time to reset themselves. Not only is giving space important but so is letting them know that support is available to them, facilitating this support isn’t something that can always be done and that is understandable, but there are options for you. The internet is filled with resources and courses that you can suggest to your employees to help raise their awareness and knowledge on the subject.
These online resources (such as the course found at Free Course England) may not be the full solution but if someone suffering was to see this kind of culture being advocated for then it could be the reason they decide to stay within the business and not look for work elsewhere.
Team building activities
Team building activities can be easy to put together when you have an office or shop full of people who work together physically. Since we work remotely at Nimbitech, as do many other companies these days, it can be hard to think of engaging practices for employees to get involved in. For the purpose of this section, we will be focusing on team building activities for remote working, but they can also be translated to a physical space.
Gaming is a big hobby for many people in today’s world (As it is for many of us here at Nimbitech). Gaming can be a brilliant catalyst in team building as it quickly brings people together in the name of problem-solving, achieving the same goal or allowing for friendly competition. This is a practice we have in place at Nimbitech, taking time at the end of the day on Fridays so our team can have a gaming session and wind down together after a week of work. It also creates an informal space for employees to talk about problems, ideas or just to chat about their week.
Consistent open communications are a good way of reminding your employees that they have a team around them who are there to help. Two things we have in place that allow us to keep on top of open communications are Coffee Mornings and Proud Of meetings. Our Coffee Mornings consist of a fifteen-minute slot in the morning, this time allows for general conversation, concerns to be raised, company updates to be discussed and even new people to be introduced to the team. These morning slots allow us to get an idea of general morale. The allocated slot also means we can follow up with anyone who has a concern that they would rather talk about privately.
During our Proud Of meetings, we can show employees they are appreciated by making them aware of the positive things that have been done or that a starting to take place within the business. This also incentivises productivity because employees feel as though they contribute to the business, and this helps along creating a sense of value and belonging.
As a Result of Psychological safety and a network of support, accompanied by conscious efforts to bring the team together with various activities and communications you will begin to see strong relationships building throughout the business. It is important to allow these relationships to continue to flourish and the best way to facilitate this is by having a more informal approach to working (Where it is appropriate). The same as our team building activities, we need to promote these practices in a remote setting as we all work together remotely, so to give context here are some examples of what informal looks like to us.
We have a lot of different channels on Microsoft Teams, but our ‘Town Hall’ channel includes the ‘Nimbi Office’ here our employees can open meetings rooms in order to collaborate on projects, ask each other questions or even just chat whilst they work so they don’t feel isolated in their day-to-day.
We allow flexible working for our employees, meaning that they can meet the personal needs they have, as well as their commitments to us. We simply ask our employees that they ensure their work commitments and deadlines are met. This is a level high level of trust that business owners aren’t always willing to take but putting this trust in employees can really help them feel valued and motivated to prove themselves.
These are just two of many practices that contribute to flexible and informal working as people from all different walks of life will have the ability/opportunity to prove their worth to a business because informal doesn’t discriminate, but formal can easily alienate. The other benefit of creating an informal working environment is open communication and honesty that can arise as people become more comfortable in their environments
We are not by any means trying to tell you, that the practices we have in place are the only path to helping build relationships between your employees and improving your company culture. The way we work may not work for you, buts it’s all about trial and error, making sure that you are attentive to the needs of your employees and that you practice mindful listening when confronted with ideas or concerns.
Actively focusing on your culture and facilitating a strong workplace relationship between your employees will be a catalyst in moving to a positive working environment. Whatever a positive culture may look like for you, it’s important to understand that it is the people in your business that help it thrive and neglecting their needs is not how you prosper.
Strong workplace relationships have a lot more than face value and their importance should not be underestimated.