This is one topic, talking about which gives me goosebumps, simply because facts about it can overawe you:

  • More than 75% of employees consider it a top factor in employee engagement
  • When done right, it can play a stellar role in fostering loyalty to their organizations
  • It is a core index of employees’ job satisfaction and productivity
  • It is one of the strongest components of collaboration and goodwill between employees?

Let me tell you, I didn’t make up these figures; these are what SHRM’s 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report showed!

Do these mouthwatering statistics give you the impression of a love relationship or a romantic relationship? Well, not exactly. Welcome to the world of workplace relationships!

What could be a better idea of a relationship than one with whom you spend about 50 hours or more every week? Could there be a sweeter relationship than one that, according to a survey by Wildgoose of more than 120 diverse companies across the UK, more than 60% prefer to a fat salary?   

Workplace relationships have to be one of the most vital relationships people have. This is because these relationships can, when cultivated with the right persons and in their right manner, lead you to a path of fresh thinking, progressive outlook, and professional growth.

Many a professional or workplace relationship has gone on to traverse other areas of life. Workplace relationships blossoming into real life relationships and culminating in an “and they lived happily ever after” theme, are way too many to even be kept count of.

In this blog, I want to explore this beautiful topic of workplace relationships in some depth, where I will honestly and objectively try to offer an understanding of building great work relationships, from both the positive and the negative aspects of workplace relationships. This approach of course, I have taken, because workplace relationships could have both the good and the bad. I will share my thoughts on this topic from these perspectives:

  • Relationships with colleagues in the workplace
  • Building relationships in the workplace
  • Importance of building relationships in the workplace
  • Tips for cultivating positive relationships at the workplace-the REALS approach
  • Workplace relationships policy
  • Characteristics of an unhealthy relationship in the workplace
  • Examples of relationship conflict in the workplace
  • Sexual harassment and workplace relationships

Relationships With Colleagues In The Workplace

Let us get down to a simple understanding of relationships with colleagues in the workplace. By this broad term, any kind of relationship can be thought of. A relationship between colleagues at the workplace can be sweet, it can be sour, it can be vengeful, or it can be plain neutral. By this term, I intend to talk about the broad umbrella of relationship with colleagues in the workplace.

Building Relationships In The Workplace

The basis to relationships with colleagues in the workplace lies in how we go about building relationships in the workplace. Building relationships in the workplace could be either one-sided or mutual, depending on the situation that builds up the relationship.

At work, it is mostly mutual benefit that drives us to collaborate. This is how most relationships at the workplace work. Colleagues come together because they work on a project together, but in some cases, the relationship could get extended to a longer period or for other areas of work.

Importance Of Building Relationships In The Workplace

I have briefly covered this aspect in the beginning. Building relationships in the workplace leads us to more meaningful insights about work. It also helps us understand and hone interpersonal skills with people, which we do not only at work but also outside. These apart, the importance of building relationships in the workplace needs to be understood from an emotional perspective.

Like good friends in need, a colleague can be a tremendous source of solace and comfort when we are suffering from bad spells such as a personal loss or a tragedy, or have been victimized due to some or another reason, or are facing a slew of other personal problems. I can tell you that this works wonders.

The support I received from my CEO when my mother was departing from this world is beyond words for me. Of course, we have friends and relatives to do this, but colleagues bring in a new meaning to the idea of support because they take your professional load off the shoulders. 

Tips For Cultivating Positive Relationships At The Workplace

Well, it is a great idea to cultivate positive relationships at the workplace. But then, how exactly does one do that? I am not going to list more tips than you can handle. Instead, I will restrict myself to these five simple ones that I will call the REALS approach:


It is very important to respect another colleague’s culture, upbringing, and circumstance. These are the bases to cultivating positive relationships at the workplace. Why? Because a positive relationship at the workplace is one that respects these elements instead of imposing one’s ideas, or consist of unilateral and arbitrary actions.


Indeed, there is no stronger means to cultivating positive relationships at the workplace than to express yourself. You could do this in a number of ways. You could simply give a greeting card, for example, to show that you thank the colleague for a favor you received. You could also express your disapproval of a certain action or behavior in one or another discreet, but clear manner.


Avoiding is the most important tip for cultivating positive relationships at the workplace. Well, I am not suggesting that you avoid people! Rather, avoid all the situations that cause ill will between you and your colleague. When there is a need to confront, do it discretely and maturely. After all, you are a coworker, not a streetfighter!


Like I said earlier, a one-sided relationship is not going to last or is going to be a pleasant one. It is important for colleagues to listen to one another. Listening doesn’t mean you are going to accept the other person’s viewpoint. It only means that you are giving the person the chance to be heard, which is a very critical aspect of any relationship. Or else, it ends up being a one-way street.


If you want to cultivate positive relationships at the workplace, it is very important to stop a number of things. These could include manipulation, backbiting, derision, mocking, complaining, blaming, and the like.

Workplace Relationships Policy

This is one of the areas in which an organization’s HR has a major role to play, because this involves the personal and professional relationships in the workplace. Companies do not have the right to monitor or carry out surveillance of the employee’s personal lives, especially in the after-office hours. However, where the personal and professional aspects of an employee’s life overlap, most organizations draft a written policy about their employees’ relational aspects. Workplace relationships policies should essentially cover how to handle a personal relationship at work.

Usually, the workplace relationships policy of most companies is defined and written down and signed by the employee. Although each company could have its goals and objectives vis-à-vis personal and professional relationships in the workplace, the overall intention of most workplace relationships policy is to ensure that workplace relationships are kept within defined limits and do not interfere with the work allotted to the employees.

If employees are in a romantic relationship, organizations expect them to keep their relationship off work. Most organizations also draft policies that give them the right to sack employees in instances where there the personal relationship affects work or causes harm of some or another kind to the organization.

Characteristics Of An Unhealthy Relationship In The Workplace

Unfortunately, the workplace is also the venue for conflicts! This is because we all bring our own interests, stakes, benefits, issues, challenges, vulnerabilities, and a host of other such things. It is but natural that we could end up clashing with our colleagues on a range of ideas and areas.

In this section, I will set out to describe the characteristics of an unhealthy relationship in the workplace. Generally, a workplace that is characterized by unhealthy relationships has either or all of these:

  • Toxicity among the employees
  • Bad relationships with one another
  • Favoritism
  • Disrespect
  • Micromanagement
  • Intimidation
  • Threat
  • Abuse
  • Violence, etc. 

Examples Of Relationship Conflict In The Workplace

Ah, well…a workplace in which there is no relationship conflict should be as unique as a museum piece! A workplace is just like a family in this sense. We have our conflicts, our differences, and our prestige, but don’t we keep them aside or learn to live with them for the sake of the larger good, namely, the family? In the same way, although conflicts are almost as regular and inevitable as the daily sun; handling them with maturity and deftness will do employees and the organization a world of good.

Here is my brief list of examples of relationship conflict in the workplace:

  • Diversity
  • Customer
  • Colleagues
  • Different approaches to work
  • Ego/attitude.

Sexual Harassment And Workplace Relationships

Undoubtedly one of the most sensitive, yet almost ubiquitous fact of the workplace; sexual harassment can sour workplace relationships and make them ugly. Any organization that likes to skirt this issue or wish it away is deluding itself. The most efficient and professional way of approaching sexual harassment and workplace relationships is to put a policy on paper. Organizations should also have a mechanism through which the victims of sexual harassment can approach the organization courageously and with no fear of retaliation.

However, it is equally important for the policy to guard employees on the other side of the fence: preventing hoisting of false cases, and offering them protection in case such events do occur. This is all the more important, considering that one in five employees fears developing any kind of romantic relationship with colleagues because of this apprehension.


After reading this blog, do you feel confident that you could inculcate a workplace at which conflicts are minimized? Do you feel that your mind has been opened to a very important area of professional relationships that you feel is worth exploring? Do you agree with the points I have listed here? Please let us know your thoughts on this blog. We love to hear from you!

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