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Company Culture Series: Respectful Relationships

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HR Governance

Most people spend more waking hours during the work week with their coworkers than they do with their families. For this reason, interpersonal relationships in the workplace have an immeasurable impact on company culture and employee happiness.

Build a Culture of Respect

The foundation of a respectful workplace is a company culture that promotes healthy relationships and does not tolerate disrespect. Company owners and senior leaders must be prepared to lead by example, remaining conscious of actions that can contribute to unhealthy workplace relationships.

Serious behaviours that should not be tolerated include:

  • Sexual harassment (including actions and words)
  • Unwanted physical touch
  • Shouting and cursing
  • Derogatory language

However, many actions that harm workplace relationships are more subtle. This includes passive aggressive behaviours such as:

  • Eye rolling
  • Speaking over another person
  • Taking credit for another’s work

These types of behaviours can set employees on edge, tainting future interactions.

Ways to Build Great Workplace Relationships

Set Clear Expectations

It sounds straightforward, but it does take concerted effort to do right to shape a positive work relationship.

In many cases, creating a written code of conduct is the first step. A written code of conduct greatly reduces the opportunity for an employee to misunderstand what is expected of him or her. Keep in mind as you develop your own Code of Conduct that each workplace has a different set of acceptable behaviours. Revisit your company values to guide you through the process of determining what is considered right or wrong in your own workplace.


Clear communication is among the best defenses against disrespectful behaviour. Creating a culture where employees feel free to communicate with their managers as well as each other can nip many problems in the bud, rather than having those involved stew over them causing bad blood between those involved.

Get to know your Team

Employees should be encouraged to build a positive rapport with their colleagues. It is much easier to ask a co-worker for help or provide constructive criticism if a positive relationship already exists. Lunch events, after –hours gatherings and planned events such as holiday parties can all help employees get to know each other on a personal level, which helps to strengthen rapport. Team building helps to strengthen bonds and interpersonal understanding amongst team members.

Here to Help

Would you like more information on ethical leadership, or do you have other HR–related questions? We can be reached for a free confidential consultation at +1-403-470-5350 or [email protected].

For further details on how Honiva helps businesses build great HR programs, please view our service listing.

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Further Reading

Other articles you may be interested in:

Company Culture Series: Employer Branding and Communication

Company Culture Series: Company Traditions

Empowering Managers

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