Do you actually know your employees? We’re not talking about their names and their work responsibilities. Do you actually know who they are outside of work? Do you know what they care about, what their hobbies are, what keeps them up at night, and what they do when they’re not in the office?

Managing workplace relations

The truth for the vast majority of employers is that no, they don’t know this information and all too many don’t really care. While separating work from personal life is an admirable goal, taking the time to actually get to know your employees can greatly improve relations in the office and improve productivity overall. Learn how to encourage positive workplace relations, and the important effects it will have on your overall work environment, culture, and productivity.

Reducing Stress in the Workplace

There’s an old adage that a group who plays together, stays together. While we’re not suggesting you start having mandatory business outings every week, the basic idea holds true. Stress is the number one killer of smooth operations and productivity in every workplace. The better employees know each other, the lower stress tends to be.

Personal connections are what form relationships, and relationships are the key to any healthy group dynamic. In many ways a business is an extended family unit where people have to work as partners and get each other’s backs. When they don’t actually know each other, they tend to make things up — and in general, the things they make up are usually based on negative perceptions more than positive ones.

Getting to Know Your Employees

Getting to know your staff can be a tricky prospect, there’s no doubt. You don’t want to simply roll up and start grilling them for information, but there are team building exercises you can do that can help.

The next time you have a staff meeting, for example, start by having everyone re-introduce themselves to each other, and share three things in the process:

  1. Where did you grow up?
  2. How many siblings do you have?
  3. What was the biggest challenge you faced as a kid?

After this, instead of the usual business updates, focus on communications. Break off into groups where one person spends just a few minutes discussing something in their life for which they’re truly grateful or passionate, or a great fear they have, and have the others listen. Then switch up the teams and have someone else do the same talk.

Workplace Relations: Don’t Force It

One thing that’s very important is that you don’t force the issue. You may have some people in your company who are just very private people and they don’t want to discuss these issues. That’s fine — it’s their choice and they should never be forced to reveal personal information.

If someone is uncomfortable in the situation, talk to them later in private, let them know that the goal was simply meant to encourage positive workplace relations, and that it’s fine if they don’t want to talk about their personal life. Let them know there’s no reason to feel awkward and they won’t be penalized for it.

In the end, however, most workers will enjoy the process and you might end up with a better overall company culture. The next time you’ve got a staff meeting scheduled, give it a go and see what happens!