Supporting Healthy Work Relationships In Retail [It Pays Off]

Supporting Healthy Work Relationships In Retail [It Pays Off]

Workplace Friendships have a cultural and personal impact for employees. To get right into it, there are absolute impacts that can be measured and shown to benefit employers and employees greatly from creating a culture that supports healthy team work and relationships:

-Job Satisfaction
-Organization Behavior [collaboration, partnerships, advocacy]
-Customer Experience

According to a Gallup survey, about 30% of employees in the U.S. responded that they had a best friend in their workplace. Further, the survey reported that 51% of those who responded that they have a best friend at work reported that they work with passion and feel a profound connection to the company, compared with only 10% of those who have no best friend. Also, 75% of respondents who had a best friend at work planned to be with the company for at least another year, compared with 51% who didn’t have a best friend.


The relationships that we have with our coworkers can either energize us to get up and spend time with them or they can absolutely destroy morale and the quality of our workplace happiness. These relationships carry a high level of social capital.

From Globoforce, here are some very important statistics to support this:

-87% of workers report that they trust their co-workers vs. 68% who report trusting company leadership [ouch!]

-93% of respondents say it was at least somewhat important to them that their colleagues in return have a high opinion of them; with 19% citing that they found it “extremely” important

-89% say that work relationships are important for their overall quality of life

-74% agree that they have a shared history of memories and experiences with their current work colleagues

Workers report that they are emotionally invested with their co-workers, in good times and bad:

-73% of respondents stated that they have laughed so hard with co-workers that they (almost) cried

-61% of those surveyed they have received support from their colleagues through a hard time

When there is a culture that encourages, protects, and supports workplace relationships there is an absolute increased commitment to the company. Workplace friendships actually seem to strengthen the employee’s emotional contract with the organization as a whole”.


-71% of people who have 25+ friends at work say they love their company
-64% of people who have 6-24 friends at work say their love their company
-45% of people who have 1-5 friends at work say they love their company
-24% of people with NO friends at work say they love their company

This makes a case for companies to look for ways to help employees connect with each other. Encourage and prioritize active collaboration, recognition, and partnerships that will help support the foundation of healthy workplace relationships. Is it really that important, you ask? It is…here’s the benefit to the company…“Employees with friends are two times more likely to trust leadership and they are prouder of their company.” Which means they will proactively and enthusiastically advocate for and on behalf your brand (and remember – their reach is 10x greater than the company alone) and this carries a tremendous amount of weight with your customer perception of your brand and their ultimate experience.

According to Great Place to Work® Institute: “Trust is the defining principle of great workplaces. Created through management’s credibility, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. The degree of pride and levels of authentic connection and camaraderie employees feel with one another are additional essential components.”

Creating a human workplace where employees feel valued by the executives, senior leadership, and their peers is critical to creating a workplace that inspires healthy work relationships through the values of trust and respect.

“Would you accept a new job if it were offered to you?”

-79% of those with 25+ friends said “No”
-70% of those with 6-25 friends said “No”
-62% of those with 1-5 friends said “No”
-42% of those with no friends said “No”

There should be no surprise that these numbers translate to engagement statistics:

-69% of employees with 25+ friends at work claim they are engaged
-While only 28% of employees with no friends at work are engaged

Here is a huge area of opportunity for my future workplace anniversary planning. In the past, I have ordered flowers, event tickets, fun gifts for employees that I thought was a huge morale boost but I have failed to maximize the impact of celebrating milestones for our team through including their coworkers in the event. I am adding this to my list to immediately revisit and revise!


-70% of employees felt more valued when their milestone anniversaries were celebrated with company and coworkers (vs. 24% when it was just company)

The other day I was having a conversation with a colleague and had a great conversation around creating a fundamental practice of encouraging healthy work relationships. My colleague is attempting to improve this area of the business through some key actions that are being met with resistance from the executives inside of her company because of “budget concerns”…Once you look at all the statistics, it is almost impossible to not clearly see the value of supporting this as an initiative [especially if the culture is challenged]. And…after all is said and done, behaviors and actions of the officers and leadership of the company make a difference [it’s not all fiscally motivated]. You cannot force relationships, they need to be organically fostered. You cannot force team work or attendance at events, they need to be genuinely offered and accepted. Healthy workplace relationships need to come from the cultural norm of the business not from a postured show – your people will see right through that. And…the costs are very much offset by the ultimate benefits.


As I covered in another post about Monday’s, “We know that people want to reconnect with their “work tribe” on Mondays…Retail organizations can host a continental breakfast for the first 30-60 minutes of the workday on Mondays to encourage socializing and reconnecting with coworkers. This will support a focus on productivity when employees return to their desks [we did this at our company and found it to be extremely worthwhile for Monday’s productivity]”. To put this in perspective, a study found that because people are casually reconnecting with their colleagues on Monday [and just, generally, are a little “meh” about work that day], they are only productive to an equivalent of three hours that day. Allowing for an hour on Monday morning for people to enjoy some food, coffee and/or tea and reconnect with their colleagues and share their weekend adventures is a minimal investment to establish support of this fundamental human need.

Implementing a program to allow people an opportunity to recognize each other is a great way to establish the company’s commitment to supporting healthy workplace relationships. Where there is a will, there is a way. At our company we did not allocate funds for “workplace relationships” but we did live, breath, and support an environment that placed value and importance on this as a real part of the culture and a driver of the culture. Here are some of fun things that happened:

-We hosted cooking classes with local chefs in our office kitchen during lunch, bi-weekly [people found others who were passionate about cooking – and about eating, and genuine friendships were founded based on shared interests]. We had a book club form as well that would meet once a week, and a really great wine club in the office and a cigar club that would meet outside the office but it was great fun!

-We instituted a fun event every Friday called “Formal Friday” [the “anti-casual Friday” where our employees dressed up for work – after the first couple of weeks we didn’t want to waste our outfits on just each other so we started to attend cocktail hour after work [and the company supported this during summer by having the end of the business day occur at 4:30pm on Fridays]. Usually it was a group of 15-20 people that would go out weekly and they invited their significant others to join, transitioning it from a professional function to a great personal one. The group would assign someone new, weekly, to pick a spot for the following week’s outing.

These were no-or-low-cost and fun events for our employees to participate in [and implement at times] and it encouraged dialog around hobbies and shared activity interests and common ground on which sincere friendship was founded. Friendships are a highly-valued dynamic in people’s lives that cannot be left for “after hours only” as most of us spend as much time [in our industry – even more] with our co-workers than with our own families, at times. How can we afford to establish a culture of healthy, active, and positive workplace relationships? How can we not?


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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