The Importance of Peer Relationships in the Workplace

Having an amicable relationship with your peers is an often underrated component to having a successful career. Although it is not always easy to get along with everyone, maintaining positive relationships with your co-workers can have a number of benefits that can help you both professionally and personally.

Not only does it help employees, but it also has a beneficial effect on employers by creating a more positive work environment, among a number of other pros that can boost both the performance and standing of the firm.

In this article, we will explore the importance of peer relationships in the workplace, and some tips on how to foster them.

Let’s get started!

What are peer relationships?

Peer relationships are the social interactions and relationships that employees have with each other. These can be either positive or negative, but they can also be a mix of both.

Positive peer relationships are built on trust, respect, and cooperation, while negative ones may be characterized by competition, gossiping, or conflict.

While it is important to have positive relationships with superiors at work, it is also essential to maintain healthy peer relationships with those at your level. After all, we spend the majority of our time at work with our co-workers, so it is important that we get along.

What are the benefits of positive peer relationships?

There are many benefits to having positive peer relationships in the workplace. Let’s have a browse at the key benefits through the lens of employees and employers alike.

1. They create a more positive work environment

For one, it can help to create a more positive environment to work in. If employees feel like they can trust and cooperate with their co-workers, they will be more likely to enjoy coming into work and feel good about their job.

This can lead to increased productivity and motivation from an employees perspective.

Turnover over rates have become a common problem in the workforce, and it can be costly for employers. So, if you can help to reduce turnover rates by fostering positive peer relationships, it can be a big win for your company.

2. They can improve employees’ skillsets

Positive peer relationships can also help employees to develop new skills and knowledge. When co-workers trust and respect each other, they are more likely to be open to sharing information and offering help when needed.

This can be especially beneficial for newer or less experienced employees who can learn from their more knowledgeable peers.

From an employer’s perspective, it means that their employees are more likely to develop new skills which can benefit the company as a whole.

It also allows firms to employ on-the-job training as more senior employees will be more willing to help out junior members of the firm. This can further benefit the employer by saving on external training costs.

3. They make work more enjoyable

Finally, positive peer relationships can simply make work more enjoyable. If you enjoy the company of your co-workers and feel like you have good relationships with them, work will feel like less of a chore.

This can lead to increased job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.

The cohesiveness that naturally exists in a workplace with strong peer relationships can also make employees feel like they are part of a team, which can further increase job satisfaction and improve the quality of work performed.

4. They reduce stress levels

The work environment can be a major source of stress for many people. But when you have positive relationships with your co-workers, it can help reduce your stress levels significantly.

This is because you will feel supported by your colleagues and less alone in dealing with the challenges at work.

In fact, studies have shown that employees who report having good social relationships at work have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

So not only does having positive peer relationships make work more enjoyable, but it is also good for your health!

5. They can make you more successful

Last but not least, having positive peer relationships can actually make you more successful in your career. This is because your co-workers will be more likely to support and mentor you if they feel like they have a good relationship with you.

In addition, when employers see that you have good relationships with your co-workers, they are more likely to view you as a team player and leader. These are qualities that are often essential for career advancement.

From these benefits of positive peer relationships in the workplace, it’s apparent that this is an area of a firm no senior should not be neglecting.

How can you foster positive peer relationships?

There are a few things that you can do to foster positive peer relationships in the workplace. Here are some actionable ways in order to do so:

Make an effort

First, try to be friendly and approachable. Get to know your co-workers and take an interest in their lives outside of work.

This shows that you are making an effort to grow closer to your employees, and highlights your willingness to have a positive relationship with them.

Remember — you don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but making an effort to be pleasant and easy to work with will go a long way in building positive relationships.

Be a team player

Show that you can work well in a team. No one likes a know-it-all or a show-off, so try to be humble and cooperative.

This means being willing to lend a helping hand when someone is struggling, and being open to working together on projects. By doing this, you’ll not only build positive relationships with your peers, but also make yourself more indispensable in the workplace.

Show your co-workers that you are willing to work together for the common goal, and that you value their input and expertise. Make sure to offer help when needed and cooperate effectively on projects and tasks.

Skip the office gossip

Last but not least, avoid gossiping or getting involved in office politics. This can quickly turn into a negative spiral that will damage your relationships with your co-workers.

Instead, focus on building positive relationships with everyone in the office.

Be a good listener

This shows that you are interested in what your co-workers have to say, and that you respect their opinions. Listening also allows you to better understand your co-workers, which can help to build stronger relationships with them.

This is especially relevant in today’s day and age where a lot of work is completed remotely, so it is important to listen to each other through whichever medium of communication is used.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

This shows that you are comfortable admitting when you need assistance, and that you trust your co-workers enough to turn to them for help. Asking for help can also be a great way to build closer relationships with your employees.

Peer relationships: Real-world successes

There are a number of companies that have been successful in fostering positive peer relationships in the workplace.

One example is Google, which has been consistently ranked as one of the best companies to work for. They have a number of policies and programs in place that encourage employees to interact and cooperate with each other.

For example, they have “20% time”, where employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on projects that are not part of their normal job duties. This allows employees to explore new ideas and work on projects with co-workers outside of their usual team — hence developing new, high-quality peer relationships.

Another company that does a great job of fostering positive peer relationships is Zappos. They have a number of programs in place that encourage employees to interact with each other, such as their “Pair Up” program, where employees are paired up with someone from a different department to work on a project together.

They also have weekly happy hours and monthly social events, which gives employees a chance to relax and socialize with each other outside of work.

The bottom line

While it is not always easy to get along with everyone at work, maintaining positive peer relationships can have significant benefits for both employees and employers.

There are a number of benefits that come from having strong relationships with your co-workers, such as a more positive work environment, increased job satisfaction, and better team performance.

This article also details some actionable steps you can take to foster higher-quality peer relationships in the workplace, such as being friendly, approachable and avoiding office politics.

Interestingly, some companies have realized the importance of peer relationships in the workplace and have acted accordingly to ensure peer relationships within the firm remain as strong as possible.

These companies like Google and Zappos are great case studies to analyse when developing your firm’s strategy to improve the quality of peer relationships.

In conclusion — by creating a more positive work environment, increasing productivity, and simply making work more enjoyable, it is apparent that peer relationships are essential for a successful career.