How To Develop Relationships With Your Employees (And Improve Morale)

Today’s top employers are doing everything they can think of to connect with employees. It goes far beyond the summer picnic and annual holiday party. There’s on-site ping pong or corn hole tournaments. Team building activities through volunteering or group fitness events. There’s planned and spur of the moment happy hours. Group cooking classes.


Because the key to happiness for many employees goes beyond a paycheck and benefits. They want to feel part of the team, part of something bigger, and like they make an impact to the company and society. They want to get to know their co-workers. And not just the person they sit next to in the office. They want to learn about other departments and people, including leadership. They want to connect. Getting to know co-workers outside of work, or by participating in non-work activities can help foster this connection, develop relationships and improve morale.

According to the experts at Adecco, the largest staffing firm in the world, “Research shows that a motivated, engaged and responsive workforce is substantially more productive than an unmotivated, apathetic group of employees. When workers feel engaged, they are more likely to work harder for the good of the company, because they can see first-hand what their contributions mean to its success.”

The Grossman Group specializes in strategic leadership and internal communication. In the article 10 Best Ways to Engage and Connect With Employees, David Grossman said “Great leaders don’t just manage employees; they make sure employees are motivated, engaged and inspired when coming to work. Overlooking these principles can result in disengagement, loss of valuable employees, increased anxiety and poor decision making, among others.”  

And while team building and group contests, events and games are fun, in the end, increasing engagement, improving morale and connecting staff comes back to how they are treated in the workplace.

Over 600 people completed The Society of Human Resources’ 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey. Over 75 percent of those employees surveyed said their satisfaction with their relationships with co-workers, the opportunity to use their skills and abilities, and their satisfaction with the meaningfulness of their job were the top conditions for their engagement.

According to the SHRM, there are low-cost business practices that organizations can incorporate to foster employee engagement For example, 70 percent of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arose as an important element of their engagement. Additionally, repetitive tasks can lead to boredom and worker disengagement; providing stretch goals and implementing business practices such as job rotation and expansion can enrich the organization while boosting engagement levels, the report noted. Other ways organizations can promote engagement:

  • Providing more feedback and recognition
  • Offering employees the flexibility and autonomy to decide how and when they complete goals
  • Emphasizing how employees’ work supports the organization’s goals.

In addition, nearly half of employees surveyed ranked their immediate supervisor’s respect for their ideas as “very important” to job satisfaction. Showing appreciation for employees’ time and efforts creates a bond, and part of that respectful treatment includes showing appreciation for employees’ ideas.

Even though this is a constant challenge for employers, the way to connect with employees hasn’t changed since the beginning of time, says Patrick Foss, President of ThinkTalent Human Capital Partners, a Twin Cities-based company that specializes in selection technology implementation and support with a focus on Taleo recruiting, onboarding, integration, reporting and passport partner

“Communicate, empower, develop and make sure employees understand where they fit in the overall success,” says Foss. “As with most anything – common sense and common courtesy – giving and expecting, goes a long way toward a good working environment.”

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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