Team Chemistry – The Key to a Positive Work Culture

In the wake of the pandemic, we were left with a sense of disconnect between colleagues at work. Our own research showed over a third of UK workers feel uncomfortable voicing their stresses at work, highlighting a real lack of trust in talking openly about feelings. In fact, these relationships appeared to be a real stress-inducing factor at work, with more than 1 in 10 feeling as if disagreements with colleagues are the most stressful aspect of work.

The pandemic didn’t help. It forced us to interact solely through a screen and impacted upon key work relationships we’d developed over the years. It also may have stunted some new working relationships in terms of new hires who joined during periods of remote working. 

What we have learnt from recent years is that the pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health. Employers, now more than ever, need to ensure all employees feel comfortable to reach out for help, regardless of role, seniority or title. So, what can be done? The answer is to rebuild and maintain strong interpersonal connections and chemistry between colleagues to create an ideal working culture where employees can openly voice their concerns, and have them addressed effectively. 

Constructing an environment of openness and understanding

Trust is a key factor in all relationships, and work relationships should be no different. In fact, a successful work culture relies entirely on strong peer relationships. Knowing that people can confide in managers, HR representatives and peers is key to creating a culture of openness. It also works the other way around – knowing that they can offer support to others who may need it. However, as it stands, one in five say they wouldn’t know how to identify a colleague who was experiencing stress at work.

In order to open up this conversation, as a leader, you’ll need to lead the way and show empathy to provide an open dialogue with employees so they know they can approach you and will be listened to without judgement. This value then needs to be extended to all employees so that they are equipped to identify and help their peers who need support.

Diarising 1-2-1 sessions with yourself or assigning a mentor to each employee can help form a stronger bond. It’s also good to use this allocated time to get to know another employee and provide a safe space to voice opinions. It’s all about creating trust, so organising set meetups can encourage employees to reach out and talk about their feelings.

Knowing what employees want (and need)

Maintaining a work/life balance was something a third of UK workers reported as the most stress inducing thing about work. As leaders, we need to understand that work can exist outside of traditional working hours (i.e. outside the usual 9-5), and that it can be achieved from other locations too.

Given that almost 40% of UK workers think trialling a 4-day week will reduce stress and 15% think a shift to flexible arrangements will do the same, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that employees want some kind of flexibility in order to be the most productive that they can be. Others, as the research suggests, find rigidly structured schedules a major cause of stress.

Listening to what your employees want, such as a more flexible schedule, is vital in maintaining a positive relationship with your employees where they feel valued and heard. Work with them to find a pattern that works for everyone and in turn, you’ll gain further respect from your employees by considering their circumstances, which will alleviate stress and result in a higher level of productivity.

Why chemistry is the foundation for any business

Having a connected team that enjoys being in each other’s company can only be beneficial for business. Clear cooperation allows for success – you can quickly address issues and provide a valuable support network across the business so everyone feels comfortable to speak to other members of the team.

As leaders, you need to ensure that all employees know that both you and your network are readily available to speak about concerns or questions. This line of communication between employers and employees allows both parties to learn more about each other on a personal and professional level. Asking how someone’s day is going, for example, can go a long way in making them feel comfortable in the workplace and demonstrates you care – it’ll encourage employees to express themselves, grow their self-confidence and ultimately flourish at what they do.

About the Author

Matt Ephgrave is the Managing Director at Just Eat for Business.

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