Post originally published on March 12, 2018
Make new friends, but keep the old, right? Once you enter adulthood, people can become less interested in making new friends. However, having friends at work is a strong predictor of how engaged you are in your work. In fact, the most predictive item in the Gallup Q12 workplace engagement survey is whether or not you have a best friend in your workplace. But, is work really a place for finding friendship? Of course! Keep reading to see the reasons why you should focus on growing friendships at work.
Having a friend at work decreases your stress
We have talked about managing stress at work before. It’s really important to make sure that your day-to-day stress levels are minimized at work because stress impacts health. While you can’t often control your workload or other stressors during your day, you can control the relationships you grow. When things are stressful at work, research shows that having coworkers that support you can decrease the negative psychological consequences of stress. So, when you are feeling stressed, try to surround yourself with people who care about you at work. It will help to calm your nerves. Plus, it will make you less tired and stressed when you get home at the end of your day.
Friendship makes you more likely to follow your dreams
One of the main effects of having friends at work is feeling more replenished. When work gets tough, it can make you feel tired and sluggish. Having friends at work helps to revive your energy and keep you going, both at work and beyond. Importantly, when you are feeling more revitalized, you are more likely to want to stay in your job. This means that you are more likely to achieve the goals that you set out to achieve when you joined your organization. Being able to stay alert and on track is really important. Having friends at work makes this path more likely.
You are a better performer when you have friends at work
Of course, all of this sounds nice – but how does it affect your personal bottom line? The good news is that support from coworkers also makes you a better performer. Having lower stress, exhaustion, and intentions to leave, along with higher satisfaction, makes you a stronger employee overall. Being stronger makes you more successful. So, having friends at work actually positively impacts your ability to perform well in the workplace.
For example, research shows that customers view you as providing better service when you have support from coworkers. In other words, when relationships behind the scenes are positive, end users can actually tell the difference. This pull-through from your workplace relationships to the customer are really important for improving your metrics, whether the customer is internal or external to your organization. Better customer relationships drive a higher bottom line, which means that you’ll be getting a lot of credit for improving things at work.
You get more from friends in return for what you give
Before we get carried away – having friends for the sake of getting something in return is never good. But, there’s nothing wrong with getting something out of your friendships by accident! The truth is that research shows that people invest more in others they trust. This makes sense from a psychological perspective. If you have a friend who you trust, it’s likely that you trust them because they have “proven” themselves to you in the past.
In other words, since your friends have likely helped you in the past, you are more willing to go the extra mile for them. Friendship is circular – you may have to give more when you have extra, but you also get more when you need some help. This is really useful at work, especially given the fast pace of business and the unpredictable nature of many jobs. Investing in friendships at work means that you’ll have help when things seem overwhelming.
Workplace friends help you to weather the “storm”
Finally, friends can help you get through the tough times at work by lending a listening ear and by giving useful advice. Research shows that employees who experience unfairness at work tend to deal with it better when they have support from other coworkers. This means that if you didn’t get that promotion you wanted or another coworker took credit for your work, your friends in the workplace can help you to cope and to effectively handle it. Thus, having people you trust and care about at work can help to breed resiliency in the face of workplace challenges.
Overall, it’s important to build positive relationships at work, even strong friendships if possible, to be able to overcome obstacles and truly thrive on the job. While it might seem weird to mix work and friendship, it’s not so strange when you consider the fact that we are all human. Workplaces are just collections of people, trying to achieve common goals. As a result, making positive connections with other people at work is a healthy way to improve your job attitudes and outcomes.
Do you have a best friend at work? Who is it? How do they improve your work life? We would love to hear from you below!