Workplace Relationships Stay Strong in Economic Downturn

7 Ways to Improve Ties and Keep Your Job

While the recession has been tough on U.S. workers in a variety of ways, it hasn’t damaged relationships in the workplace.

A new survey reveals that 87% of professionals have good relationships with their bosses, and 95% get along well with their coworkers. The results of the survey, developed by the financial staffing firm Accountemps, were approximately the same as those in 2005, when the economy was much healthier.

“People make work relationships a priority in good times and bad,” says Katherine Spencer Lee, a district president for Robert Half International, the parent company of Accountemps. “In the current economy, we see people pulling together, empathizing with the work and personal challenges their colleagues are facing, and doing what they can to help.”

Boosting Job Security

She also points to a “we’re in this together” mentality that is helping teams accomplish more with fewer supporting resources.

Experts say that being a person whom others like to work with makes you more valuable to an organization. Thus maintaining good relationships on the job must be a priority today — especially when managers may have to reduce personnel.

Kathy Condon, executive coach and author of “It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: It’s All About Communication,” says, “When you are the employee who is known for carrying your own load, getting along well with others and asking appropriate questions, you are more likely to be moved to the ‘safe list.'”

What You Can Do

Employees can nurture and improve their relationships on the job by following these tips:

* Take on challenges outside your job description. “Proving yourself to be someone who can be counted on when the chips are down will help strengthen the bond with your manager,” says Spencer Lee.

* Adjust your work style and communication efforts to better mirror those of your boss.

* Be a resource. “Volunteering to help colleagues is key,” says Spencer Lee, “and gestures such as offering praise in a public setting and forwarding news articles of interest can go a long way toward enhancing work relationships.”

* Ask questions when you are unsure about what another person is saying. “People often do not have the same definition for a particular word or concept,” says Condon.

* Check in with your boss frequently. “Ask how you can help meet certain goals or fuel special projects,” say Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, authors of “BOOM! 7 Choices for Blowing the Doors Off Business as Usual.” “Check in on your boss’s major stressors and find ways to be helpful.”

* Reach out. The Freibergs recommend having lunch with colleagues from different part of the company. “Set goals, try and meet or reconnect with one new person a week.”

* Maintain your poise during challenging times. Rolling your eyes or complaining about your job can hurt your effectiveness in the eyes of coworkers or bosses. “Negativism is highly contagious in work settings,” says Mary Lloyd, consultant and author of “Supercharged Retirement.”


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