8 ways to strengthen relationships with employees
We reached out to various HR leaders and CEOs to get their tips on building bonds between employers and employees.
Nowadays, people don’t just want a job. They want to be somewhere they genuinely enjoy — the importance of a strong culture and strong relationships can’t be underestimated.
At Perkbox, it’s something we passionately believe in, and with Employee Appreciation Day just around the corner, we thought it was a great time to see what others do to strengthen relationships with employees.
From letting employees develop, to focusing on wellbeing, there are lots of ways businesses can build better professional and personal relationships with employees.
Here’s what they had to say!
Find out what matters and put it into action
Whether you believe your employees are engaged and happy or not — take time to identify what matters to them. Create a "suggestion box," form an engagement team or Employee Resource Group to support your staff and invite employees to provide feedback at review time, as well as throughout the year. Take these findings seriously! Implement the changes, suggestions and ideas you gather. Finally, ensure this feedback-implementation process is visible and active in your organisation. Employees thrive when they feel heard and can challenge the status quo.
Identify common hobbies and interests
Outside of the day-to-day work an employee provides, it's always beneficial to connect with them as people. Understanding who they are, what they enjoy and how they're doing is fundamental to communicating personally. At the end of the day, we're human. We want to have these casual conversations in between work conversations - to help lighten the mood, and create strong relationships between one another. Another way to connect with people in a professional environment is by integrating common-interest clubs (hiking clubs, wine clubs, book clubs, etc.). We have adopted these and it has created connections with employees (especially while we're in this virtual environment). It allows us to have conversations that are NOT work-related and just enjoy a common interest/hobby together. This relationship bleeds (in a good way) into the professional relationship - creating more trust and connections between one another.
Encourage your employees to grow
I don't believe you should ban or prohibit employees from creating and growing a side hustle outside work hours. It will increase their satisfaction, improve their skills in many areas and also increase their reputation and standing in the community. Overall, this will improve their job satisfaction. Employers do not own employees and should not try to control their personal lives outside their work hours.
Get full value from performance reviews
Performance reviews can give you significant insight into your relationships with employees. It’s a chance to chat about how things are going, whether a team member may have aspirations for further learning, and also an opportunity for you to remind them of what an excellent job they're doing. This can forge an important bond between you and your team that will inspire them to work harder for the company.
Create moments of togetherness
With many companies adopting a hybrid model, it's important to create occasions for both new and old employees to connect and build relationships when in the office.
These moments can cover budgets of all sizes — you might want to get some cakes in or organise a lunch to bring everyone together. If you have more resources, hold a whole company away day.
It is also worth making sure you create a variety of moments and hold them at different times and days so as many employees get a chance to take part. Don’t underestimate the importance of regular recognition as well — this is a great way to strengthen bonds between employees and the company.
Create psychological safety
Creating psychological safety is so vital to bringing the best out of employees. Ask questions that allow for vulnerability and understanding including:
- On a scale of 1-10 how are you doing and what would get you to a 10?
- What am I as a leader doing to derail your success?"
Be curious, be open, be vulnerable, and the relationship will strengthen and grow.
Intentional questions and listening
We have all changed since March of 2020. This is an opportunity for leaders to lean in and ask their teams important questions about how they want to thrive in your organisation.
What is their next move? What do they need from you to be their best self at work? What are their values related to work and life post-2020? Listening carefully to the individuals on your team will be insightful. This practice will strengthen relationships, however, it must be genuine. One size rarely fits most.
This might also be an opportune time to share how you have witnessed their growth and development since 2020. Go forth with beautiful questions and an open spirit.
Focus on employee wellbeing
People are human, and that’s something to celebrate. We need to take care of our employees and demonstrate that we value who they are as individuals. One great way to do that is to be a “servant leader”. When an employee is struggling, stepping in, offering your support and showing that you are willing to take care of whatever they need – no matter your role and title – demonstrates that care. When employees see how much leadership is invested in their wellbeing, they will be even more motivated to support the business.