Building positive workplace relations

Why are positive workplace relations important?

It might seem obvious, but for staff to thrive at work they need a supportive environment that allows them to be their authentic self - whoever that authentic self might be.

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Building strong relationships requires:

  • Good morale
  • Trust and support
  • Respect
  • Self-awareness
  • Inclusion
  • Good communication. 

Staff should also feel empowered to look after their own wellbeing, whilst encouraging others to do the same.

Good Morale

If morale in the workplace is high, people feel positive about coming to work.

Trust and support

If team members trust each other, they will support each other with workload; they're also more likely to share issues and problems with accessing adequate support. 


There should be mutual respect between all team members, to avoid an hierarchical approach. Team members should value each other’s input and work together to find solutions to any issues or challenges.


It can be difficult keeping problems from other areas of life out of your workplace. Self-awareness is about taking responsibility for what you say and do; if you are experiencing a negative situation, don't let that impact people around you.


Welcome people with backgrounds and experiences different to your own. Listen to and accept different opinions, insights and perspectives, and taking them into consideration in your decision-making process. 

Open communication

Open and honest communication is key to a good relationship of any kind. Being open and honest will ensure better connections between all team members, enabling them to value each other’s views and opinions. 

Why work towards positive working relationships?

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Positive working relationships help us, as individuals, to: 

  • Feel happier
  • Build our self-esteem
  • Be open and honest and more assertive  
  • Achieve our goals 
  • Provide vital peer support  
  • Be more productive at work and provide safer patient care.

Positive working relationships help teams work more effectively and productively; they build positive morale, result in fewer sickness absences, and reduce staff turnover as staff feel valued. They also provide better patient experiences and create enjoyable working environments.  

Positive working relationships also result in teams being more creative and innovative in delivering services. They'll be more open about errors and near misses, as well as finding innovative solutions to improve systems and services.  

Leaders are encouraged to create the right culture and environment to create a sense of belonging and positive wellbeing. The RPS Inclusion and Wellbeing Pledge demonstrates individual, team or organisational support for a profession that is inclusive, celebrates diversity, creates a culture of belonging, and supports pharmacy teams’ mental health and wellbeing 

Good practice for positive working relationships

Supporting individuals:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Ask How are you? or if it is a particular challenging time, acknowledge this by asking How are you coping? and really mean it - and wait for a proper answer 
  • Use ‘gentle’ language such as I notice you don’t feel yourself today, gentle invitation to open up 
  • Be aware that not everyone wants to talk about their issues or problems, so you may need to establish boundaries. Ask them if they would like to talk to you about it or how they would like to handle it, so you can establish what works for them
  • Provide a safe confidential space for these types of conversations so that individuals don’t feel uncomfortable and watched 
  • Just listen and support - you don’t necessarily have to provide a solution 
  • Consider other people’s needs – our teams are made up of diverse people with different needs, we need to be aware and understanding if they need additional support in the workplace
  • Acknowledge that everyone is dealing with different situations, but we're all in this together 
  • Be mindful of how the language you use could impact on other people.

Supporting teams: 

  • In secondary care NHS Trusts, group reflective practice forums called Schwartz Rounds are used. They provide an opportunity for staff from all disciplines to reflect on the emotional aspects of their work 
  • In primary care, Balint groups are used. These are mainly a clinical supervision discussion which focus on the emotions of the clinician and patient arising within the consultation, rather than the clinical content
  • Facilitated groups of people who normally work together and meet 30 mins before or after work or lunch 
  • Sharing experiences or challenges and ‘normalising’ these - tools such as Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) can stop people taking issues home
  • As managers, be visible to your team and acknowledge life is tough 
  • Instil a culture of belonging and celebrating the team’s diversity to make everyone feel welcome 
  • Signpost to wellbeing resources locally and nationally 
  • Set boundaries and expectations, including with patients and members of the public, and ensure a respectful environment 
  • Flowers and plants in the workplace to help bring nature inside, but be aware of infection control, allergies and / or available space 
  • Music in the workplace (if allowed) and use ‘themes of the day’ to create playlists and engage with the team 
  • Celebrate team successes and make it a common thing.