How Your HR Team Can Build Employee Relations Through Positive Psychology

How Your HR Team Can Build Employee Relations Through Positive Psychology

The idea of a faceless corporate machine is a dated one — people are the lifeblood of a business, and they all have personal, emotional complexities that can affect how they perform in the workplace.

Indeed, 26% of workers state that they are more likely to quit their jobs if they feel there is no mutual respect between themselves and their colleagues. In short: positive employee relations matter.

Your business’ human resources(HR) team is uniquely placed to foster these positive employee relations.

HR teams are responsible for many tasks, from hiring and onboarding to day-to-day administration and training. But they are also pivotal to putting in place systems and cultures that help improve relationships in the workplace.


Their knowledge of the team, both as individuals and as a whole, combined with their administrative role, gives them the ability to nurture a good workplace environment through positive psychology.

In this piece, we look at what elements make up a positive workplace, with advice on how HR teams can go about implementing this. Read on to learn how.

Create a positive culture of thankfulness and gratitude

46% of job hunters point to positive company culture as a crucial factor when considering a new role, and gratitude is a big part of that. Gratitude and thankfulness is an important but undervalued element in the workplace.

When we go to work in the same place every day, we all too easily feel like just another cog in the machine. Gratitude gives purpose to our work, as we’ll go into in greater depth later in this article. But it also helps foster positive relations between colleagues.

Helping individuals understand the value of their colleagues encourages trust and collaboration. We are more likely to work better with people when we understand their value within the wider workplace.

Build a positive culture that actively and regularly recognizes the successes of your colleagues. Get into the habit of thanking your colleagues after they’ve completed a task or project. It’s a simple act, but one that goes a long way towards recognizing an employee and making them feel more engaged with their wider team.

An essential part of this positive culture of recognition includes regular check-ins with your colleagues. In fact, engagement almost triples when managers meet regularly with their employees. 

During regular team meetings, set aside ten minutes to thank your colleagues for their work and achievements in the past week. Identify one or two individuals each week and single them out for praise in this public setting.

Try to avoid coming across as patronizing — praise for the sake of praise feels insincere; instead, focus on genuine appreciation for genuine achievements.

When you thank your colleagues, highlight how their work and achievements have impacted the wider business and projects. This gives genuine value to your thanks, highlighting the function they play within the business, and tying in nicely with the next point…

Give purpose to employees’ work beyond profit

Gratitude can give meaning to someone’s experience at work and within a team. But this is just one facet of the importance of purpose in the workplace.

Finding purpose in work (and, indeed, in life) is essential to fostering positive relations between individuals.

Employees are less likely to quit for a pay rise elsewhere if they find purpose in their work beyond simply profit. Indeed, those workers who believe their employer has wider goals beyond simply making a profit are 27% more likely to stay in their role.

But how should employers go about fostering this sense of purpose at work?

The aforementioned check-ins are one example of this, but another method includes mission statements.

Mission statements are essentially formal outlines of your business’ aims, values, and ideals. It highlights the purpose of your company, why it exists, and what it seeks to offer its clients or customers.

These statements serve a variety of functions. They help prospective customers understand what a business does, guide internal decisions on sales, marketing, and financials, and more.

But beyond this, they also give employees reason and purpose behind their role within the business. A mission statement highlights why your colleagues are doing what they do, and which values their work aligns with.

Create a clear mission statement that answers the following four questions:

  • What does your business do?
  • How does your business set about doing it?
  • Who are you doing it for?
  • What are our values that drive this?

Write up this mission statement in an easy-to-understand and aesthetically pleasing way — this will form the crux of your internal communications, and so you must make it accessible and understandable. 

If you fancy going the extra mile, you could use a system like Crisp (a leading Zendesk alternative) to create a dedicated internal knowledge base. This way, you can collate all the above information in one convenient location. 

Cascade your mission statement internally, ensure all new starters read and engage with it and, where possible, display it somewhere prominent on your workplace, either in a shared area or on your company intranet.

In a similar vein, you should also celebrate your successes as a business with your team.

Rather than keeping wins and achievements siloed to top-level management, share them with the entire business, from top to bottom.

Make client feedback an integral part of this. External validation from outside of your business adds more weight to the celebration of your results. It highlights the real-world impact of your colleagues’ work, making the results of their efforts more tangible as a result.

As such, when clients provide positive feedback on a project or campaign, be sure to share it with the rest of your team, either in your weekly catch-up or via internal communications.

Identify your employees’ strengths and play to them

Every workforce consists of a diverse range of people with a variety of different qualities and skills between them.

Even if a team is dedicated to a single function within your business, each individual will still have an array of unique skills, strengths, and talents to their name.

Not all of these will be applicable for the workplace, of course. But there should still be opportunities that arise in the course of your work where these unique strengths can come into play and be capitalized upon.

This genuinely matters too. 38% of workers desire a role that aligns with and supports their own extracurricular passions and hobbies. Creating a work culture that uses and nurtures those interests will be stronger and more cohesive as a result.

Start by taking the time to understand and get to know your colleagues beyond a strictly work-related environment.

During the onboarding process, invite your new starters to share their passions and skills outside of a work environment. Make this part of your new recruit questionnaire and communicate its findings to their new manager.

Beyond this, simply take the time to learn about your colleagues through a friendly chat. Discovering interests and passions in this way is organic, and strengthens social bonds into the bargain.

Once you have learned the unique skills and strengths of your team outside of their usual day-to-day role, next identify tasks or projects where these individuals can employ those skills.

For instance, let’s say you are launching a new internal communications template. Rather than hiring a graphic designer to create visuals for the template, reach out to a colleague with a side interest in Photoshop to do it for you.

As well as saving you the need to outsource the work to an external party, it also taps into the existing value and strengths of your staff. This gives them more enjoyment and a sense of personal value to the business as a result.

This is just an example, of course, but it illustrates how, by getting to know your colleagues beyond the workplace, you can strengthen self-esteem and positive relations within a team.

Celebrate events, milestones, and achievements across the spectrum

The above points all focus on work-related psychology — affirmation through achievements or successes that benefit the business.

But while these are important, so too are the more domestic achievements and events that color our lives too.

Birthdays, weddings, pregnancies, births — these are all important events in an individual’s personal life, but are also worth celebrating in the workplace too.

When an employee has one of these events, celebrate it with the wider team.

A card and cake is cheap and simple to do, and you might even raise it in your weekly team meeting too.

It’s not about splashing out and spending a lot of money on your employees or making a big song-and-dance about their wedding or new child — it’s about publicly celebrating their own personal milestone or achievement openly.

It reminds them that they have value beyond their role as simply an employee. Their own personal achievements matter to their employer, just as they would to their own friends and family.

In this way, you can nurture positive relationships between your employees and their colleagues by giving them a human, personal depth. Rather than simply being someone they go to with work queries and nothing more, your employees realize the emotional, personal dimensions of their co-workers, strengthening the attachment beyond the 9-5.

But beyond these personal milestones, look to wider, cultural events to celebrate too.

Diversity is a beautiful thing within a workplace. It fosters equality, ensuring people from all walks of life and backgrounds are represented and celebrated equally. Finally, with 61% of employees believing that diversity strategies are essential to the workplace, it is all but necessary that you take steps to implement your own.

While traditional celebrations of Christmas and Easter are commonplace in Western workplaces, it’s important not to just focus on the mainstream cultural events relevant to your country.

To strengthen unity within a team, celebrate what makes them unique, what makes them different.

Look to further unify your team by celebrating events from across the religious, ethnic, and cultural divides. As well as marking religious events such as Diwali, Eid, and Hanukkah, consider recognizing cultural celebrations such as Kwanzaa, St Patrick’s Day, and Chinese New Year as well.

It doesn’t matter if not all minority groups are represented within your team, either — you can still celebrate Pride Month if no one in your team is from the LGBT+ community, for instance.

Naturally, these events, achievements, and milestones should be celebrated sensitively. Rather than simply giving them a token nod, invite relevant speakers in or share useful resources that highlight and celebrate them.

There are a myriad of elements that make a strong, successful business. But one of the most important of these is positive relations between your employees. Don’t undervalue the importance of positive relationships in the workplace. Strong interpersonal connections between colleagues creates a positive work culture that attracts the right kind of talent, retains staff, and helps your organization meet its wider business goals. For more in the world of HR, visit our rundown of the top 30 HR blogs, or view our archive of articles here

Editorial Team
This article was written by Editorial a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

Related Articles


Sign up now to get updated on latest posts and relevant career opportunities