Benefits of Encouraging Relationships Within Your Business

What price on friendships in the workplace? How important is this in helping a business progress and meet its vision and its purpose? Research shows that the basic human need of belonging (which we have covered before) can be assisted immensely by the strength and depth of the relationships people form with their colleagues at work. Strong and meaningful workplace connections drive many of the outcomes that are the essence of top performing teams.

These close connections make people more productive, creative, and collaborative. They also improve job satisfaction and reduce stress and burnout. This means that good people, the people that any performing business needs, are less likely to leave. Not only are they better contributors but they provide more stability to a team. But when employees are disconnected or lonely (and remote working is obviously a potential factor here) their performance level drops. Their ability to focus deteriorates and their willingness to collaborate plummets. They devote time and effort attempting to hide their loneliness from others, which leaves them with less mental energy for completing work to the highest standard. In short, they become less able to do their jobs.

What can a leader do to enable their people to form positive and rewarding relationships? Firstly, recognise that workplace friendships don’t just happen by chance. They will bloom under certain conditions, many of which leaders can strategically engineer, even in a remote or hybrid environment. Here are three strategies, based on evidence, that leaders can use:

1. Find and Share Commonalities

Similarity breeds friendships. Shared interests, shared backgrounds etc. The more workers have in common with one another, whether it’s a particular TV show, weekend pastime or even the same birthday, the more likely they are to click. The strongest predictor of long-term bonding is the level of similarity when people first meet.

Managers can help employees to identify commonalities. Recruiting and onboarding offers the perfect opportunity. Instead of simply introducing new recruits by their professional experience, consider, during the interview process, finding out a few details about their personal interests and include these details into your welcome message when introducing the new person to the team.

Introducing new team members by their personal interests immediately shows their human side and empowers existing team members to find commonalities over which they can bond. Moreover, inquiring about personal interests demonstrates to new recruits that you care about them and value their individuality. It’s also a differentiator. In a world where 88% of employees believe their company’s recruitment and onboarding process can improve, designing an introduction that sets the stage for friendship not only sets a business apart, but it paves the way for more effective collaboration.

2. Focus on Combined Goals

Never assume that employees reporting to the same manager will naturally view themselves as a team. A crucial aspect of leading teams is ensuring that employees view their colleagues not just as work colleagues, but as teammates.

Shared goals or the experience of working together toward a common objective, supports the development of friendships. Studies show that employees who view their colleagues as essential to their success build closer friendships, have fewer disagreements, and view their work as more meaningful.

To help achieve this, managers can draw attention to how   projects require a team effort. Doing so can be as simple as highlighting an important collaboration, or publicly thanking an individual whose contributions are vital to a team’s success but are easy to overlook.

Another option is to emphasise team-wide goals (such as objectives and key results, or KPI’s) that can only be achieved through working together. Depending on the department involved, team KPI’s could include increasing referrals, improving customer traffic, or optimising people engagement scores

Shared goals can foster team building outside the office, during recreational activities. A well-designed social activity can do more than deliver a fun experience, it can present the conditions that empower colleagues to work shoulder-to-shoulder toward a common objective.

3. Turn conflict into connection

Workplace disagreements often erupt when people don’t feel related to something. When they feel undervalued, unappreciated, or perceive a lack of respect. The less connected people feel, the more likely they are to interpret a difference of opinion as a slight on them personally.
However, disagreements can offer a lot of value if you navigate them correctly. Far from signalling office dysfunction, workplace disagreements can produce more creative solutions, better decision-making, and higher performance.

The top leaders don’t just defuse conflict — they use relationship-building statements to turn tense moments into opportunities for deeper connections. These can take the form of recommitting to the partnership (“I bet we can figure this out”), acknowledging your partner’s contributions (“You clearly put a lot of work into this”), or valuing their expertise (“I’ve always appreciated your insight into clients like this.”). The trick is to quickly reassure your colleague that your disagreement has nothing to do with your relationship, and everything to do with finding the best solution.

Used correctly, relationship-building statements can do much more than put out relationship fires. They are a vital conversational tool for fostering collaboration, expressing appreciation, and ensuring that contributors feel valued.

Far too often workplace friendships have been left to chance. When you think that research clearly shows that feeling connected to our colleagues elevates productivity, reduces turnover, and fosters better teamwork why would you allow this to happen? Think of workplace friendships as a powerful and underutilised tool for creating high-performing teams and recognise that leaders can do a great deal when it comes to nurturing employee friendships.

By utilising insights from the science of close connections to promote bonding, teaming, and productive collaborations, any leader can fuel their team’s need to be related and elevate business performance.

Need some help in making this happen in your business? Get in touch with us at or call us on 0116 232 5231.

Why not have a look at our online learning platform provided by our sister company where you can find useful business tools, courses, articles, access to Experts and more?

Click here to access The Box Academy and see for yourself, you can join for free and if you like what you see, join as a full member giving your people access to a huge amount of learning and development material.

The Tinderbox Team

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