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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2023

Cultivating healthy workplace relationships through a shared purpose

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

The workplace is a significant part of an individual's life that affects their wellbeing and sense of purpose. According to a 2003 Gallup Poll reviewed by the American Psychological Association, the average adult spends much of their life working, as much as a quarter or perhaps a third of their waking life.

Interpersonal relationships in the workplace can be complex and include verbal and non-verbal communication practices, empathetic listening, ability to handle conflict and change, and personal attitude. Even when coworkers have ideological differences, there is room for everyone to be their best selves and focus on a shared purpose — the mission of the command. A shared purpose refers to a clear and common picture of a desired future state that all members of the workforce identify with. Simply put, it is a purpose that has been collectively internalized, creating an opportunity for dynamic teamwork.

Individuals who see purpose as a way to bring meaning to their work can lead to healthier workplace relationships, and increased job satisfaction and engagement. Full engagement requires healthy communication skills, whether peer-to-peer or supervisor-to-supervised. Surveys of recent and upcoming generations of employees clearly show a majority of employees desire greater meaning and personal development from their work and suggest many workers see their work as a calling — enjoyable, fulfilling and socially useful. Healthy workplace relationships are foundational to a positive work environment and feeling a sense of purpose.

Not only do positive workplace relationships give a sense of community, belonging and support, they also give an opportunity to improve communication and care for others. Within the workplace, healthy relationships influence job satisfaction, level of engagement and involvement, work-life balance, and turnover intention based on psychological rewards.

Academic research published in the Consulting Psychology Journal, International Journal of Stress Management and Canadian Journal of Behavior Health has studied the relationship of individual-level job satisfaction to individual-level performance. Job satisfaction and individual performance, are influenced by facets such as satisfaction with one's supervisor and satisfaction with one's work. Research suggests that satisfied employees are more cooperative, more helpful to their coworkers, more punctual and time-efficient, show up for more days of work and stay with an organization longer than dissatisfied employees.

Not sure where to start or what resources may help? Consider the following questions:

• What do I want most out of my job and what are my priorities at work?

• What is my primary communication style at work and how well does it serve me?

• Am I willing to change my habits to meet my professional goals?

• Is there a workplace relationship I’m struggling with? How can I be part of the solution?

• Would I benefit from a mentor or finding an affinity group, such as an ERG?

• What action am I willing to take today to build positive working relationships?


Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility offers a variety of resources for getting connected to command programs and building healthy workplace relationships:

Command University Command University, offers a comprehensive selection of professional development courses to aid employees in improving communication skills, dealing with challenging situations, and networking with fellow employees. To browse available trainings and class offerings, visit the Command University SharePoint page.


Employee Resource Groups are open to all employees and are designed to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility within the command. Monthly group meetings are prime opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, and engage with coworkers and command leadership. To find out more, visit the Diversity Leadership Council page on SharePoint.

Career Center

The Command Career Center supports personal and professional growth, enabling whole-person development. Career counselors can assist employees with identifying, planning and preparing for opportunities throughout all phases of their career. To find out more, call 360-627-6262, email or visit the Code 1180 SharePoint page.

Command Counseling

The Command Counseling Program, Code 1101, provides shipyard employees with resources to help them navigate difficult situations that may impact their workplace relationships. Counseling sessions can be completed during working hours and are available to all members of the workforce. To schedule a session, call 360-340-2745 or visit the Mental Health and Well-being Community of Practice SharePoint page.


The Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program provides monthly webinars on professional and wellness topics throughout the year. Solution-focused counseling and coaching sessions are also available through the shipyard’s local, on-site representative. To find out more, call 360-476-5673 or visit the Mental Health and Well-being Community of Practice U.S. Navy photo by Scott Hansen SharePoint page.