Organizational Wellness

Five Ways to Build Rapport In the Workplace

Jul 25, 2023
Last Updated May 20, 2024

Nothing kills the Sunday Scaries like knowing that when you open up your laptop on a Monday, you’ll be greeted with messages from coworkers you like and respect. They make the work week just that little bit better. But those relationships don't happen overnight.

It takes time and mutual respect for coworkers to feel safe, supported, and heard within their team. By investing in your team relationships, you help to create a positive work environment, improving the employee experience and sense of belonging. Let’s look at a few different ways to build rapport and strong relationships in your workplace.

What Is Rapport in the Workplace?

Rapport is the foundation of productive relationships in the workplace. It's a feeling of mutual trust, understanding, and respect between two people or groups that allows them to collaborate effectively on tasks and projects.

Building rapport can help create an environment where employees feel comfortable communicating openly with each other, resulting in better problem-solving and decision-making. It also helps foster stronger team dynamics which leads to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

Why is Rapport In the Workplace Important?

Building rapport is important for creating a positive workplace environment. It helps teams trust one another and improve the overall employee experience.

When employees feel strong socio-emotional ties with their coworkers, their working relationships change from professional and dry to innovative. It allows for partnerships fuelled by positive culture and innovation, a study by McKinsey found.

But relationships often take more than time to develop. Companies can nourish rapport between co-workers by taking active steps to help them build personal connections.

  1. Allocate Time Social Time During the Day

An environment where employees are encouraged to talk on a personal level creates space for deeper relationships to form. It gives employees the time to build relationships and trust, and having a friend at work boosts productivity

Consider making lunch breaks and coffee breaks moments for informal conversations. Allow employees to debrief and share their thoughts together in these moments. For remote employees, you could replicate these informal chats by organizing virtual water cooler talks with coworkers.

  1. Show Genuine Interest and Empathy

When engaging in conversations with coworkers, it is important to show real interest. For example, if you’re catching up with an employee, listen carefully and try to give them your full attention, rather than being distracted by notifications on your phone, Slack, or emails. This demonstrates that they are important to you, and helps employees feel like they can talk to you.

Try to show the same level of interest whether you’re discussing work related topics (like their latest projects) or personal activities (like what they did at the weekend). Even if you don’t share their hobbies or interests, their passions are part of what makes them who they are, and it’s important that people feel they can bring their whole selves to work.

  1. Create Experiences that Bring Employees Together

Team activities are a proactive approach to building rapport. They help teams shake off work duties and spend time working as a team to complete a challenge or activity. By participating in fun and engaging activities, employees are able to build trust and strengthen relationships with their coworkers. This helps create an environment of collaboration, camaraderie, and understanding.

For example, managers can organize icebreakers before meetings, escape rooms, work-family feud games, or happy hours. These activities help teams build trust with one another and learn how to collaborate.

  1. Show Appreciation to Employees

Recognition improves employee engagement and satisfaction, a study by Gallup found. With a simple "thank you," you're able to build rapport with teams. It shows you see their efforts and value their time.

Showing appreciation should always be timely and specific in order to get the best results. The important thing is to have appreciation at the center of the culture of the company.

  1. Respect Their Boundaries

Rapport also requires respect. And for working relationships, that involves recognizing boundaries for individual team members. These boundaries could be allowing employees the time they need to recover, managing achievable workloads, and understanding that time outside of work should be for personal needs, not work calls. Not only does this show employees their personal time is important, but it also helps reduce burnout.

Managers should be aware that even if an employee is happy to put in extra work or go the extra mile to complete a task, it's still important to have downtime to relax after work. Employees should feel like they're in control of their time and workload.

Building Rapport With Workplace Wellness

Work relationships between employees help to build an environment of support and belonging, which contributes to higher employee satisfaction. Structural support in the workplace, like wellbeing programs, are a great way to cultivate friendships in your workforce.

Wellness initiatives give your teammates the opportunity to spend time together outside of work — by taking a yoga class together, for example, or competing against each other in a step challenge. And this all comes back around, as these kinds of experiences can lay the foundation for the kind of friendships that increase employee retention.

Interested in offering a workplace wellness program to your employees? Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist today!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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