Workplace relationships for employees

Nov 30, 2014

The relationships you have in the workplace are a significant part of your life.

You go to work to earn a living and to contribute your skills, though the human relationships are also important. Many work colleagues become friends outside of work.

When work and home are going well for you, you feel good about yourself and ready to face the world. However, the connections between your personal and family life, and your work life are two-way. Work related difficulties and stress can affect personal and family well-being, just as difficulties at home can affect performance at work.

Personal issues can affect your work

These can include:

  • health issues
  • smoking, alcohol and drug use
  • financial matters
  • relationship conflict and distress
  • parenting issues
  • caring for elderly parents
  • family violence – emotional, physical, sexual abuse
  • separation and divorce
  • building a house or major renovations
  • problem gambling.

You might not notice how personal problems are affecting your work, but other people might, so it’s important to deal with problems as they arise.

Work issues have an impact at home

Work issues can include:

  • conflicts and stress linked to work colleagues
  • changes in your job, in your team or the organisation
  • feeling undervalued or overlooked
  • conflict between personal values and your work
  • increased workload or unrealistic time-frames.

Help is available

Work stress can affect work performance, which in turn could put your job at risk. The stress can also make you unwell and affect your relationship with your partner, children and friends.

If your problem is with a particular person, you can try talking to the person.

  • focus on the problem, not the person
  • be constructive, avoid blaming or arguing about being right
  • think about what you want and what the other person may want
  • identify the common ground and potential compromises
  • seek personal support by talking to someone you trust
  • look after your health by getting exercise, eating well and enjoying recreational activities.

What else can you do?

If your workload is overwhelming or a workplace conflict is seriously affecting you, taking considered action can help. If you plan to talk to your supervisor, another member of staff or the Human Resources Department about the issues, prepare ahead. Plan what you want to say, be open-minded, prepare to negotiate, avoid blaming others and look for solutions. Acknowledge and respect the other party’s right to have a different point of view.

If you can’t resolve the issue, use the resources and policies of your workplace to take the matter higher. Your employer may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which enables you to speak to someone outside the organisation.

If you feel you are being discriminated against, and your efforts to resolve the problem fail, you can speak to the Australian Human Rights Commission: