Meaningful Relationships at the Workplace - How to Help Your Women Employees Build Them


Have you thought much about employee relationships in the workplace as a means of attracting and retaining top talent? Many companies today may be focusing on compensation and employee benefits as the best method for competing in a tight labor market. Yet, people have shifted their priorities, including women, who want more from their job than just a paycheck. They want a sense of purpose and belonging. 65% of candidates report they have actually discontinued a hiring process due to an unattractive employee value proposition.

The state of the workplace today

The pandemic changed the way we work. A survey conducted by Flexjobs found that 65% of professionals prefer 100% remote work, 32% prefer a hybrid workplace, and 57% would look for a new job if they could not work remotely. In 2021, the number of people that work primarily from home tripled from 5.7% to 17.9%. That means roughly 28 million people are interacting with their colleagues and managers through virtual meetings and emails.

This has made a positive impact by providing flexibility for families, but what does that mean for relationship building at the workplace? A large concern for the adaptation of hybrid working is the lack of personal interaction and connection with people. Many companies like Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and Disney are demanding workers return to the office because of the fear of the breakdown of collaboration and teamwork.

Benefits to meaningful relationships at the workplace

Though there is a lot of pushback when it comes to forcing employees to return back to the office, especially due to the convenience remote work provides to women, it is understandable that companies want to ensure relationships in the workplace stay well established and strong, because quality relationships at the workplace provide huge benefits. 

The benefits of meaningful relationships within an organization, contribute to improved:

  • Communication 
  • Support 
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership building
  • Shared purpose
  • Holistic well-being 

Communication in the workplace is a top priority because  it has the potential to make or break a business, with a reported 97% of employees believing communication impacts their task efficiency daily. Meaningful relationships improve communication largely because when there is a bond between people, there is more of a willingness to collaborate, share information and trust in the team. 

Understandably too, when women have solid relationships, it helps build a better workplace, which helps fight off burnout. Connected women are more supportive of each other, motivating each other to perform well and offering up assistance when there is a project deadline or unforeseen challenges come up. 

But a hidden benefit that many companies may not notice at first when encouraging networking and relationship building is the opportunity to grow future leaders. Each woman has individual needs when looking for advancement and many benefit from a support group when they are interested in leadership advancement. Positive relationships with mentors and coaches provide unbiased advice and guidance, additional perspective on real world experiences, and help to build the confidence needed to make the move forward or identify areas for improvement.

What meaningful relationships at the workplace look like for women 

In most relationships, people want to be seen, heard, recognized, and valued. The workplace is not much different. What women value most in any relationship is:

Trust in each other’s actions and words

Diversity of opinions

Mindfulness of each other’s point of view

Interrelatedness to connect with others

Respect for each other’s backgrounds

And the nature of the relationship does not have to be just coworker to coworker. It can be a junior associate and a senior associate. It can be a mentor to a mentee. It can be a sponsor and an inspiring leader. 

When women have positive relationships at their workplace, they are more engaged and happier. In Gallup’s report, Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived, they found that two-thirds of women say the social aspect of a job is a “major reason” why they work.

How to build meaningful relationships for your women employees

It has been found that companies that have a lack of relationships at the workplace see a drop in productivity. In Gallup’s research, they found that having a best friend at work contributes to better business outings, including profitability, safety, inventory control, and most notably customers’ emotional connection with and loyalty to the organization. 

So, with that in mind and the reality of the current hybrid/remote work environment, it is understandable to see the challenges companies face with connecting employees so they can build more meaningful relationships.

It is important to first prioritize relationship building. Designating times when women employees can meet sets up the environment for women to share experiences, bounce ideas off each other, or just catch up with what everyone is working on. For on-site locations, this is easy, but for remote workers, this can be more difficult. 

When there is more distance between people, women from a wide range of backgrounds and locations benefit from talent management strategies that intentionally infuse authentic ways to foster connection and belonging. A program like Aurora, where employees, mentors and coaches come together in a safe space, affords women a chance to discuss real time, relevant topics, together Digital hubs and platforms are a nice complement to the employee experience, too. Platforms that prioritize ease of use, curated content, and networking or conversation tools which allow for honest and open dialogue also encourages colleagues to bond and grow together.

With the right tools in place strong, meaningful relationships at the workplace help women employees feel more rewarded for the work they do. McKinsey has also found their performance improves by 33%, they are 75% more committed to their organization, and are 49% less likely to leave. So, it is well worth the investment to build on their connections with each other. Contact reacHIRE to learn more about how you can help your women employees and future leaders build more meaningful relationships and thrive in the workplace.