Workplace Relationships

Workplace Relationships

Many of us spend a large part of our lives at work. Even those that work alone still need to engage with other people such as clients and employers at different times. However, most of us also have co-workers. Sometimes we spend more time with them than with our family and friends. The quality of our relationships at work impacts how we feel about our work and can also play a big part in the state of our mental health.

When we work in a positive environment and communicate well with our peers, we tend to feel good about what we do and we are more likely to be motivated to give our best. This is not always the case, though. Sometimes we come across people that we struggle to get along with, sometimes the corporate culture is unhelpful and sometimes things happen unexpectedly that send negative ripples throughout the organisation. Being unhappy at work can also lead to being unhappy in other areas of our life.


Areas of concern

Some factors that can influence our workplace relationships include:

Perceived injustice or intolerance

This could include being underpaid or discriminated against. Whether this is true is not always the main issue. What matters is that the employee believes it to be true.


Unrealistic deadlines and inadequate staffing are among the many causes of work related stress.


Companies that value diversity and promote a healthy respect for differences in values, religions and culture are more likely to have happy and engaged employees than those that ignore these issues.

Employee dissatisfaction and high turnover

If many employees are unhappy in their job, the atmosphere can become very negative. Motivation and productivity slow down and morale is greatly reduced.

Anger and conflict

These can arise from personality clashes, poor communication and poor management. Some people may also have anger management issues which can affect those they work with.

Bullying and harassment

On their own, bullying and harassment can be difficult enough to handle. These issues can become worse if the organisation does not have effective strategies to deal with them.

Personal issues spilling into workplace

When people have issues that are causing them distress in other areas of their life, such as in their marriage, it can be hard to leave those strong emotions at the door when they come to work. Having health issues that are not understood or catered for or affect a person’s ability to do their job can also increase their stress level and impact workplace relationships.


Even the most positive work environments can be affected by traumatic events. These could include the death of a colleague, an emergency (such as a fire or criminal act) or a sudden take-over or collapse of the company. Feelings of grief, fear and anxiety can spread quickly throughout the workplace.


What can counsellors do?

Some counsellors - including psychologists, professional counsellors and social workers – are specifically qualified to offer their services to organisations both privately and onsite. They can provide:

  • Mediation
  • Group facilitation
  • Conflict resolution training
  • Career coaching
  • Clarify company values and goals and help with policies and procedures
  • Staff well-being programs such as mindfulness

Many counsellors are also registered to offer services as part of an Employee Assistance Program. This is an Australian Government initiative established to help assist with work and personal problems that may adversely affect performance. EAP counsellors can identify problems, diagnose mental health issues, provide treatment, refer to external community resources or liaise with management to create strategies to improve and enhance the situation.

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