By Dr Lindsay McMillan

An analysis of more than 300,000 hours of workplace counselling sessions undertaken by our workplace assistance arm Converge International, has shown the leading reason employees seek counselling is a breakdown in relationships at work and in the home.

Couple this with the seismic social shifts in Australian workplaces, including the role of technology and the rise in part-time work, and it is clear that a greater focus on relationships at work is needed.

As a result, our a future that works campaign has released a new report, Renewing Australian Workplaces, highlighting what employers can do to improve relationships in the workplace.

The report highlights an issue that is not getting enough attention and is often taken for granted – our relationships at work.

Relationships are key in our personal life, but the research behind our latest report has shown that Australian workers are taking their workplace relationships for granted.

This is a massive issue, because relationships are central to how people do their jobs, how people develop and how you can achieve sustainable workplace performance.

This report posits four Healthy Workplace Principles that help workplaces create healthy relationship frameworks: inclusion, development, engagement and life enhancement.

These are more than techniques, they provide workplaces with the structure to develop a relational culture, which will enhance productivity and improve worker wellbeing.

This report details practical ways these principles can be implemented and is a must for all Australian workplaces.

The report is a wake-up call for all workers and employers in all industries, even suggesting our political leaders would benefit from focussing on improving relationships.

This is a call to action for both employers and employees: a focus on relationships is crucial to improve workplace outcomes, and I am talking about all workplaces.

We constantly see our political leaders abandon or refuse to develop relationships, either across the aisle or amongst business and community leaders, in favour of political expedience.

But if they focussed more on building relationships I think they would get better policy outcomes and more public support.

The four Healthy Workplace Principles which are key to improving workplace relationships are:

·       Inclusion – Showing a genuine interest in the people around you at work

·       Development – Creating a culture of creativity, where mistakes are allowed

·       Engagement – Developing a listening culture

·       Life enhancement – Creating an environment where positive, and constructive feedback is normal

Renewing Australian Workplaces can be downloaded at http://www.afuturethatworks.org.au/reports/