Why we all need friends at work

Jenna Alexander, National Head of Internal Recruitment, Hays UK explains why it is important to have established relationships with our workmates:

70 per cent of employees say having friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life. These employees are not just happier of mind, but body too; strong relationships can improve our cardiovascular functioning and decrease stress levels.

Everyone benefits from a tightly-knit workforce

The advantages of having workmates aren’t exclusive to the employee, either. By creating an environment in which friendship bonds are encouraged, and their benefits fully appreciated, employers can profit from more loyal, creative and productive employees.

Employees who have good relationships with their colleagues are less likely to look for work elsewhere. They’re also less distracted by concerns about not fitting in, allowing them to focus more on their performance and productivity in a supportive environment. On top of this, employees who feel comfortable in one another’s company are more likely to express themselves; sharing ideas and aspirations that they have without risk of being put down.

Day-to-day interactions with people who you look forward to seeing makes coming into work much more enjoyable. In order to sustain high morale and motivation at work you need to be getting the respite that having friendly relationships provides. The trust that comes with having a close group of friends at work is also vital to team cohesiveness and thus the overall success of the business.

Developing productive relationships

The advantages of having a solid support network at work are multiple. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out in your first professional role or nearing retirement, there are things that all of us can do to make new friends at work – here are five of them:

  • Get out of the office: It’s healthy to spend time with your colleagues away from the workplace. In doing so you’re more likely to get to know one another properly, cementing bonds that are based on more than just work related matters. Employers can facilitate this by encouraging and organising team ‘away days’, as well as other events.
  • Be appreciative: Showing genuine appreciation goes a long way in how you are perceived by others. Many of our workloads are getting bigger rather than smaller, so make sure you let your colleague know that their time was not wasted. Not only are they likely to match your courtesy, but they’re also more likely to help you the next time.
  • Pursue your passions: The best way to meet like-minded people is to explore as many as your passions as possible. Finding a common interest to talk about is the quickest way to progress friendship, so share recipes with colleagues, go for lunchtime runs together, invite them to weekend events and so on!
  • Be candid: Take the first step towards forming genuine relationships by being confident enough to let your personality show. An open and collaborative workplace is one way that employers can help create an environment which encourages candidness. Being honest is not the same thing as being rude; negative people are always the last people invited to the party!
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously: Hard work is an integral part of being a successful professional, but being busy isn’t justification to speak to others dismissively. If you’re planning on winning over others then you should always treat them with the same respect you expect from them. Senior staff should lead by example in this regard, making a point never to talk down to colleagues.


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