As modern workplaces move to hybrid arrangements, leaders struggle to form a strong bonds with their teams.
Fortunately, MIT Sloan Management Review turned to experts who study employee behavior and manager effectiveness to ask about the most effective ways to strengthen the employee-employer relationship.
Here are some of the noteworthy responses:
Make meaningful work design changes
Anthony Klotz, writer and associate professor of organizational behavior in the UCL School of Management at University College London, said that forward-thinking leaders will make 2023 “the most innovative year ever when it comes to how people work.”
Klotz believes that work breakthroughs — such as four-day workweeks, hybrid schedules, and sabbaticals — are one of the smartest investments leaders can make in the face of an economic downturn.
Pay attention to your employees’ emotions
Leaders must pay careful attention to the emotional patterns of their team members, said
author, organizational psychologist, founder of the Institute for Life at Work, and lecturer at Boston University Questrom School of Business Constance Hadley.
Strong relationships are built on feelings of mutual respect, empathy, and care. A long-lasting and successful employee-employer relationship depends on effectively resolving conflicts and building rapport at the workplace.
Recognize employees as individuals
Bobbi Thomason, author and assistant professor of applied behavioral science at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, said that recognizing and treating employees as “whole people” helps strengthens their relationships with their leaders and managers.
This means learning and attending to their individual needs, ambitions, health, and passions. It also requires awareness of their relationships with those around them at home and work.
Moreover, managers should consider how their organization’s work impacts their communities and how employees can be proud and excited to contribute to the organization’s impact.
Learn what you don’t know — and act meaningfully on it
Jim Detert, professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, said that giving importance to your team’s opinions is the best way to create strong relationships at the workplace.
Create a reasonably safe way for employees to give objective input to sufficiently open-ended questions, then do something meaningful to address whatever you learned.
Positively shape work design to build trust and support well-being
Caroline Knight, author and postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Transformative Work Design at Curtin University’s Future Work Institute, believes that managers who avoid micromanaging their employees are usually the ones to build the highest trust with their team.
Checking in — as opposed to checking up — and allowing them to voice worries and stresses without fear of repercussions could also help managers resolve or alleviate many issues before it escalates into bigger problem.