5 Ways To Build a Culture of Support In The Workplace

Support in the workplace benefits teamwork, productivity, and overall morale. Find practical strategies on how to assist colleagues and grow as an organization.

Matthew Reeves

CEO of Together

Published on 

March 15, 2024

Updated on 

Time to Read

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During challenging times, such as organizational changes or global crises, employees often need more than just professional support. In such times, emotional support from someone to lean on can help improve individual employee well-being and boost overall resilience.

Therefore, today we’ll explore the concept of support in the workplace–what it is, its importance, and how to provide it. We’ll also be highlighting how companies can utilize platforms like Colleague Connect to create a supportive work culture. 

Introduction to Colleague Connect

Colleague Connect is a platform designed to facilitate connections and collaboration among employees. It offers features like:

  • User profiles: Personal profiles to showcase expertise, interests, and connect with colleagues.
  • Messaging capabilities: Chats with colleagues individually or in groups for support, sharing information, or collaborative projects.
  • Interest-based groups: Shared interests, hobbies, or professional pursuits that can help build communities within organizations.
  • Icebreaker library: Facilitates professional and informal interactions, leading to smoother conversations and better communication.
🧊 How and Why to Facilitate Watercooler Talk in Hybrid Workplaces

But before we see how it transcends to become more than a donut app or a collab and mentoring platform, let’s delve into what’s support in the workplace: 

What is support in the workplace?

Workplace support thrives on mutual respect, collaboration, and a willingness to help others. It's an environment where employees feel valued, empowered, and able to bring their best selves to work.

Additionally, when faced with difficulties, a supportive work environment works like a safety net, helping employees navigate through tough situations.

Why is it important to help others at work?

By embracing opportunities to provide help and support in the workplace, employees can create a ripple effect on multiple levels, i.e., individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. There’s a reciprocal association between prosocial behavior and positive feelings. In other words, when helping others makes people happy, they’re more willing to help others. This sets off a chain reaction that can transform an organization into a supportive workplace.

Let’s look at some of the positive changes that originate from such a work culture: 

Creating a collaborative workplace culture 

Helping others boosts the spirit of teamwork and collaboration. Supportive colleagues are also more likely to:

  • Share ideas and expertise, leading to increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities.
  • Develop a sense of shared responsibility and ownership, leading to improved project outcomes.
  • Communicate openly and effectively since they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns, leading to better decision-making.

Moreover, remote work comes with various challenges that can leave team members feeling disconnected. It can also create gaps in collaborative work due to technical issues or gaps arising from digital and asynchronous communication. 

Colleague Connect can help alleviate those challenges in two ways. It breaks hierarchical barriers and lets colleagues connect over informal sessions. When colleagues can share experiences, information, updates, and knowledge regardless of seniority or titles, it brings an ease of partnership that becomes a gateway for a collaborative learning environment

Secondly, Colleague Connect matches employees based on skills, goals, interests, and even department or location - attributes that participants fill out when they register on the platform. Interest-based sessions help employees find the most ideal skilled professionals for particular projects or topics. They can ask questions, set up discussions and build learning partnerships. 

Something isn't working in L&D. The future calls for a more people centric approach - where employees learn collaboratively - when they need it, and how they want it.

Building stronger relationships

Helping others strengthens relationships and builds camaraderie among colleagues. It also reduces feelings of isolation and makes employees feel connected to their workplace and job. In other words, stronger relationships boost job satisfaction

Happy employees are more likely to stick around. This reduces turnover costs in companies and improves the sense of accomplishment and motivation in employees. 

Organizations can leverage Colleague Connect to streamline the formation of such relationships. Its platform makes it easier for employees to connect, support, and share experiences.  

Team building is stronger and more resilient when there’s trust between its members. Such teams are more likely to survive upheavals within the company. Colleague Connect offers dedicated sessions for colleagues to connect informally, build work friendships, and offer mutual support. This is particularly great for remote teams who may feel isolated, especially in times of slowdowns and layoffs. When employees have an opportunity to build a trusting relationship with a colleague, they can share their worries and discuss larger industry trends without fear of judgment.  

Promoting employee well-being

Helping others can also improve employee well-being and mental health. For instance, support in the workplace can take the form of positive encouragement and appreciation, which reduces stress

When unchecked, work stress can lead to burnout. This brings us to the other way colleagues can support others, i.e., by alleviating workloads. Such acts of kindness can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation among employees.

Colleague Connect can help companies support people who might be struggling. So, it gets easier to connect them with someone willing to listen and offer encouragement. That goes doubly for remote working members who can feel isolated or have trouble maintaining work-life balance.

Building a culture of gratitude and appreciation

Support in the workplace can give rise to a culture where gratitude and appreciation are important. 

For instance, people working for such organizations would be more likely to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s contributions. 

Such acknowledgements can come in the form of: 

  • Shout-outs in team meetings
  • Recognition in company newsletters
  • Small tokens of appreciation

Professional development and growth

Helping others can contribute to professional development and growth for both the employees and the organization. 

For instance: 

  • Peer mentoring and coaching lets colleagues share or pool knowledge and expertise, allowing both parties to develop new skills and advance their careers. 
  • When employees can learn and work collaboratively, it boosts their innovation and problem-solving skills.
  • Taking the initiative to help others demonstrates leadership qualities and identifies potential leaders within an organization.

There are many advantages to propagating strong, trustworthy professional relationships–whether through mentoring or coaching. For instance, when those involved offer genuine, constructive feedback, they can help each other upskill and other aspects of professional life.  

Additionally, as more employees start using Colleague Connect, the platform will facilitate the creation of peer learning networks. Networking has its own advantages, like career advancement and skill improvement opportunities.  

eBook How To Fast-Track Employee Learning With Colleague Connections  

You’ve seen how beneficial a support system can be, let’s now discuss how your organization can put a similar system in place:

5 Tips for supporting colleagues in the workplace 

Supporting colleagues in the workplace is essential for a positive and productive environment. Use these tips for effective support and build strong relationships within your team:

1. Encourage active listening

Active listening is essential in providing support to colleagues as it demonstrates care, builds trust, encourages problem-solving, reduces misunderstandings, and promotes a supportive organizational culture.

Teams can engage in active listening via:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Paying attention to nonverbal cues 
  • Paraphrasing to demonstrate understanding and avoid misinterpretations
  • Asking open-ended questions for deeper understanding

2. Offer practical assistance

Providing practical assistance to colleagues can significantly enhance teamwork and productivity in the workplace. 

Use these tactics for hands-on support:

  • Offer to take on some of a colleague’s workload or help them complete specific tasks.
  • Cover for them when they're unavailable due to personal or professional reasons.
  • Share relevant resources or information to overcome challenges or complete tasks more efficiently.

3. Show empathy and understanding

Showing empathy and understanding towards colleagues who may be going through difficult times can make them feel supported and build their trust.

Team members can make that happen when they:

  • Validate emotions based on what a colleague’s going through.
  • Offer words of encouragement or support
  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice and support by listening and being present

4. Be mindful of nonverbal cues

Nonverbal cues are vital for understanding colleagues' emotions and needs in the workplace. They convey emotions accurately and provide context to communication. 

Teams can identify unspoken needs and enhance communication by looking for these signs:

  • Discomfort–shown through body language, such as crossed arms, slumped posture, or avoidance of eye contact 
  • Emotional state–expressed in the tone or volume of voice
  • Frustration or worry–Indicated by a frown, furrowed brow, or pursed lips

5. Respect boundaries and privacy

Respecting colleagues' boundaries and privacy when offering support is equally crucial for success. 

Teams should focus on:

  • Not being intrusive by prying into personal matters 
  • Never making someone feel obligated to share information they're not comfortable with
  • Respecting others’ time and offering assistance based on their needs and availability
  • Maintaining confidentiality and trust when receiving personal information

Empower your workforce by building resilience 

Creating a culture of care and compassion within an organization hinges on strong leadership. Leaders should set the tone by openly acknowledging challenges and expressing empathy towards their team. They can also leverage tools like Colleague Connect that streamline peer support, team networking, and relationship-building among employees. 

A supportive workplace culture where offering and receiving support is the norm benefits individuals, teams, and the entire organization. 

Schedule a demo to see how Colleague Connect can benefit your organization.

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