Toward a harmonious and conducive work environment


We cannot do without group and inter-personal relationships and live happily on this earth.  God created human beings to live together, work together and support each other.  The poor and less privileged need support from the rich and wealthy in society.  At the same time, the rich and wealthy also rely on the services of low-income earners such as cleaners, gardeners, gate-keepers, drivers and security guards, who help them in diverse ways to accomplish their life-goals and objectives. Everybody needs somebody else.

The Challenges

Many of us may have gone through very difficult times as a result of some serious disappointment we experienced in our relationship with other people.  In our daily dealings with people, we are often confronted with misunderstanding or challenges which tend to separate families and friends.  Yet we were created to work together in unity and complement each other’s efforts in order to achieve our life goals.

Unity and Teamwork

In my Primary School days, I read an interesting story that relates to unity and teamwork.  One day, members of the human body held an urgent meeting to discuss a serious problem they had with the stomach.  The members – including the head, hands, mouth, teeth, tongue, legs, eyes, ears and brain – complained bitterly that they were doing all the hard work to bring in food and other resources to sustain the body, while the stomach was acting lazy; doing nothing but consume all the vital resources, the result of their hard labour.

Acting in concert, they decided to go on strike to punish the stomach. They ceased all their activities. A few days into the strike action, members of the body began to experience serious challenges. They were feeling very weak and helpless. At that time, they discovered that the stomach, which they hated so much, was actually playing a critical role in helping to sustain the entire body.

It was processing the food it received for distribution to all the members – to supply them with the needed energy for the well-being of the whole body.  The strike was called off immediately!

In I Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul explains the importance of every one of the spiritual gifts by using the analogy of the body’s functions.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” (I Corinthians 12:26 ESV).

Managing the Human Capital

One area that accounts for the best success stories of companies and organisations – both private and public – is their ability to manage their human capital, their most important asset. No matter how sophisticated or complex the company’s technological set up might be, the human factor plays a very critical role in accomplishing its vision and mission.

Companies that pay due attention to relationship building, reward for hard work and meeting the welfare needs of their workers tend to gain a privileged position on the competitive market.

High Turnover of Employees

A closer look at the exit history of employees in companies and organisations will reveal that human relations issues – rather than poor educational qualification, inadequate professional experience and poor job performance – account for a significant percentage of high staff turnover at the workplace.  In other words, many people quit their jobs not because they are not knowledgeable, skillful or competent enough, but because of relationships which have gone bad.

In the case of professional incompetence, the recruitment system is expected to address the issue of the candidates’ professional qualification, skills and relevant experience.  Therefore, if the recruitment processes – especially the interview sessions – are carried out professionally and with good intent, very few employees would be given letters of termination for failing to meet the professional standard.

Reasons for Employment Termination

When employees find it difficult to attain their expected financial and professional status, they often become disappointed and start looking for more lucrative jobs in other companies or organisations.

In other situations, management may terminate the employment of some workers due to poor job performance.  Even in such cases, some employees are given a second chance through on-the-job training and other training and development opportunities, to enhance their professional competence and help them stay on the job.

However, a critical examination of employees’ reasons for quitting their jobs would reveal an interesting picture.  A significant percentage of workers leave their employment as a result of challenging relationship situations. In most cases, the real reasons – with the exception of acts which relate to crime or gross misconduct – which send employees packing out of an organisation may not be stated in the termination or resignation letters.

When we examine more closely the causes of termination actions – voluntary or involuntary – we may discover some important human relations issues, such as the following:

  • A manager or supervisor is abusive.
  • A worker shows gross disrespect to a supervisor.
  • A worker’s self-esteem is negatively affected.
  • A supervisor is being undermined by colleagues.

Saying Goodbye

In some situations, employees find it difficult to manage their exit from a company, organisation or institution. In a display of anger, some exiting workers have been heard to say:

  • You can take your job; I am going to find a better one.
  • This is a terrible place to work.
  • I am wasting my time and talent here.
  • I cannot continue to be a slave in this company.

Some exiting workers are able to find jobs of their choice, but others have found themselves in similar or worse situations. In many instances, angry exiting workers refuse the Human Resource Manager’s request for an exit interview.  It is important to manage the goodbye process in a positive way.

Mismanaging the Exit Process

When the employer-employee relationship turns sour, the exit process often becomes messy.  In real-life situations, mismanagement of the exit process has later landed some people in difficult situations.

In one instance, a young man quit his job unceremoniously because he had been promised a more lucrative job elsewhere.  He did not have kind words for management of the company he was leaving.  He was soon invited for an interview in a new company.

Upon entering the interview room, he found himself sitting face-to-face with the chief executive officer of the company he had exited from.  His former Managing Director had been invited by his colleague – the other company’s owner, to be on the interview panel. The candidate was so upset that he fumbled with his answers. The result was obvious:  he failed the interview.

Responsibility of Management

It is also important for Chief Executive Officers and Executive Directors to manage the exit of their employees in a constructive manner, even in provocative situations.  Some top executive officers angrily shut the door on exiting employees and block any channels of communication.  This may not help the situation.

It’s a Small World   

One short message caught my eye during my first visit to Disneyland in California, U.S.A. in the 1990s.  The message was simple: “It’s a Small World”. This is a simple message, but it carries a lot of weight.  In this complex world, we never know when a teacher may become the student of a lecturer whom the former taught in primary school.

It is therefore important for us to maintain constructive relationships at the workplace and elsewhere, since this could later work out for our mutual benefit. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to live at peace with one another. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)

John is a HR/Management Practitioner. Phone/WhatsApp: 0244599628

E-mail: [email protected]


Leave a Reply