Many of you reading this are familiar with the fact that employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss but have you ever thought of the effects that coworkers have on your job satisfaction?
Having friends at work is incredibly important for your mental well-being. It is especially true for new employees joining a company that just want to fit in.
Managers have the responsibility to help create an environment where those friendships can foster, by organizing team building events, and encouraging informal chit chat.
Not too long ago, Officevibe created an infographic about the importance of having friends at work, where we dove into some of the relevant statistics about why those friendships matter:
One of Gallup’s questions on their famous Q12 survey is “I have a best friend at work” because they know of the link between having a close friend that you can count on and employee engagement.
When you have a close friend at work, you feel a stronger connection to the company, and you’re more excited about coming into work every day. You attach yourself to the company’s purpose and collaborate better to create success for the business.
But did you know that the stress caused by an adverse relationship with a coworker can have a serious toll on your life?
Are your colleagues stressing you out?
In an incredible study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University, they found that coworkers had the biggest impact on your health. The researchers tracked 820 adults for 20 years, starting with a health exam in 1988 to establish a baseline.
The participants were from many various industries and were continuously being asked about various conditions of their job.
They were asked questions about the behavior of their boss, their relationship with their colleagues, and work environment, all while being monitored for their health.
The most interesting discoveries for the researchers is that what they assumed would be damaging to employees health had very little impact at all. The number of hours a person spent at the office didn't affect their health, neither did how mean their boss was.
What they found instead, was that the factor most closely linked to health was the support of coworkers.
According to the study, middle-aged workers with little or no "peer social support" in the workplace were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study.
There was a similar sentiment discovered in a survey done by WorkWorries.com, where they found that coworkers were a bigger source of stress than bosses.
62% of participants reported that coworkers cause them more stress than bosses, while the other 38% said that their bosses cause them more stress than coworkers.
Bad colleague relationships = Bad personal relationships
A study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that employees who experience frustration over a rude colleague have their negative emotions spill over into their relationships at home.
This is incredibly troubling because of the damage that it can do to your children and spouse. Think about the ripple effect that a bad relationship with a single coworker can have.
The unnecessary stress doesn’t belong in the home, and the spouse can end up carrying that stress from home back to their workplace, creating an even bigger ripple effect.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, managers have the responsibility to help foster those relationships at work.
But it’s not fair for me or any employee to put all of the responsibility on managers, employees have a responsibility as well.
Don't hesitate on making friends at your job
There are plenty of reasons why it’s important to have friends at work. Humans need to feel a sense of belonging, and considering how much time we spend at work; coworkers can help you achieve that.
1. A better support system
It’s natural to want to complain about the new boss, assignment, or something happening in your personal life. Having coworkers you can count on to help you through those problems is important.
Work brings us a lot of stress, so to be able to vent to someone that fully understands what you’re going through is nice.
2. Loneliness decreases motivation
To be fully engaged at work, you have to be motivated. When you don’t have any friends at work, it can get pretty lonely in your cubicle.
That loneliness will cause you to lose that motivation that could have been otherwise put towards something productive, like helping the company (and yourself) grow.
3. Improved communication skills
Improving those skills is a nice side benefit of being able to chat with friends at work. Communication skills are important for work, so practicing with coworkers will make you a better communicator in front of your boss or team members.
4. More productive at work
If you have a good relationship with your colleagues, you'll be able to receive constant feedback from them to help you be more productive at work.
Build better relationships at work
Like any relationship, the key to building better friendships at work is through trust.
Being open and honest will show your coworkers that you’re making a serious effort, and the chances of them reciprocating are much higher.
In their research, they found that this was just as true for work relationships as it was for romantic relationships.
When the researchers interviewed coworkers to determine how they became friends, they discovered a pattern of self-disclosure that included sharing both personal and work problems.
It needs to be an organic process, don’t run to your coworkers and spill all your secrets, but progressively opening up about your life helps build those strong, long lasting relationships.
Try and find something in common with a coworker that you could share, like music, food, or tv shows that you both enjoy.
Many companies use communication apps to help employees collaborate, and many of those apps have fun/generic chat rooms or private messaging. That’s a good start for initiating those conversations, but you need to continue it offline.
Here's an image of our team using Slack:
Something as simple as inviting a coworker to eat lunch with you, or surprising them at their desk with a cup of coffee from the break room can go a long way.
Are Your coworkers affecting your mood at work?
There's a reason why one of the ten key metrics that we measure in our staff engagement platform is “relationships with coworkers.” Companies can monitor how coworkers affect job satisfaction, by viewing the frequency and quality of communication between teammates, without nitpicking or being too intrusive.
Is your office doing enough to make sure that you and your team are getting along?
Equip HR and managers with tools to engage, recognize, and drive performance.