Why it’s good to turn your colleagues into friends

colleagues

(Brooke Cagle, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Four in five respondents to a US survey say they have at least one friend at work.
  • A majority don’t consider these friends “real friends.”
  • Employees with friends report feeling happy more often.

Are you friendly with the people you work with? Or are you friends with them? The distinction is important: befriending colleagues could make you happier and more productive.

From offices to warehouses, workshops to farms, many people spend more time with coworkers than they do with their families. And what we think of the people we work with and our relationships with them affects our lives, even after the workday is done.

A recent survey of 3,000 American workers employed full time sheds light on attitudes toward friendships in the workplace.

Co-workers outnumber friends.
15% of people consider their coworkers
Image: Olivet Nazarene University

Conducted by researchers at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, the survey found almost two-thirds of people at work are perceived as either “strangers” or “coworkers.” Around 35% make it into “friends” territory, though only 15% of these friendships continue outside of work.

Four in every five respondents said they work with at least one person they consider a friend.

Friendships are formed more easily in some industries, such as transport, finance and accountancy. Real estate and the legal profession produced lower-than-average numbers of friendships.

 Many friendships start within days or weeks of colleagues meeting.
Many workplace friendships start within days or weeks of colleagues meeting.
Image: Olivet Nazarene University

Most workplace friendships happen quickly, with more than half formed within weeks of colleagues meeting, and 22% established after a few months.

Although the survey shows real estate to be barren ground for like-minded people to get together, it’s also one of the sectors where friendships happen fastest, along with retail, the food and beverage industry and insurance. On the other hand, friendships form more slowly in government, healthcare and engineering.

Work friends are important

So, is making friends at work good for us? Gallup’s research since the late 1990s suggests the answer is yes.

The polling company often asks its clients’ employees: “Do you have a best friend at work?” Survey results showed respondents who answered “yes” were 43% more likely to report being recognized for work done in the last week.

A LinkedIn study of relationships at work found 46% of professionals around the world believe having work friends enhances their overall happiness. Building bonds with others can make us feel more connected, which, in turn, can help boost productivity and engagement.

“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organization,” explains Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School, co-author of The Progress Principle. “And one of the things that contributes to positive inner work life is a sense of camaraderie with teammates and close co-workers – a sense of bonding and mutual trust.”

The authors analyzed nearly 12,000 diary entries from more than 200 professionals working in innovation teams in seven companies. They found employees are twice as likely to be engaged if they have a best friend at work.

A distraction from work?

But before you begin frantically socializing with all your colleagues, a study from Rutgers University suggests developing friendships at work may be a mixed blessing.

The study of 168 employees at an insurance company found having a lot of coworkers who become friends does indeed boost employee performance. Developing friend networks at work helps remove barriers, making employees more comfortable asking for help without fear of being judged. Employees with friends also reported feeling happy more often.

However, these same networks could create distractions as impromptu discussions and breaks for socializing divert people from their work. The study found establishing and attempting to maintain workplace friendships can be emotionally exhausting, especially when situations like a promotion put one friend in charge of another, creating potential power clashes.

Overall, though, the positives of workplace friendships outweigh the negatives.

Friends can act as a support network, which has a positive effect on mental wellbeing while also opening doors to new career opportunities and contacts.

While some bosses might discourage chatting and laughter, it seems even a little friendship goes a long way to improving workplaces.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Coal addiction ‘must be overcome’ to ease climate change, UN chief says in Bangkok

The EU now has rules that say household appliances must be easier to fix

UN mobilizes in Rohingya camps to support babies born of rape; young mothers face stigma

US-China trade war: Washington now wants control of the renminbi-yuan

Larger species are more at risk of extinction than smaller ones – here’s why

Von der Leyen in Ireland: Our mutual solidarity is here to stay

MEPs call for EU rules to better protect minorities’ rights

Responsible Artificial Intelligence

Ukraine: The West and Russia negotiate shares of influence

Commission tries to solidify the EU statistical system

9 climate tipping points pushing Earth to the point of no return

We can make sure Globalization 4.0 leaves no one behind. This is how

Legal Manager – 2050

Taking fast road to ‘e-mobility’ central to a sustainable future: COP24

Why exchange programs are essential for the medical students of the 21st century

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

Is a full course lunch, a new Commissioner and 2 million anti-TTIP citizens what you would call a “Fresh Start”?

Mood changes in Europe in favour of growth and jobs

These deepwater fish farms could help natural stocks recover

Greater investment in family-friendly policies critical to support breastfeeding – UNICEF

What can each individual do to lessen the burden of mental health in times of the pandemic?

Venezuela: UN human rights office calls for ‘maximum restraint’ by authorities in face of new demonstrations

UN police officer recognized for protecting vulnerable Somali women from abuse

Scotland and First Minister Salmond enter the most challenging battlefield for independence: Europe

Team Europe: EU and Germany join forces with the Government of Bangladesh to safeguard the livelihoods of workers in export-oriented industries

The Five Chinese Girls

ECB to support only banks not Peoples

Why is the EU launching a doomed policy in stopping immigrant waves? What are the real targets?

Is the English language too powerful?

State aid: Commission amends Short-term export-credit insurance Communication in light of economic impact of coronavirus outbreak

Who can unlock the stalled Brexit negotiations? UK Premier sticks to her proposal

JADE Spring Meeting 2017 – day 3: JADE Academy trainings, networking session and gala dinner – Excellence Awards winners revealed

Japan must urgently address long-standing concerns over foreign bribery enforcement

3 ways business leaders can build digital trust

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Here’s how the EU is doing on gender equality

The vegan economy is booming – and Big Food wants a slice of it

Greek-Turkish border: MEPs reject Turkey’s pressure, demand common asylum rules

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

The Changing Scope of International Economic Relations – Chinese Leadership in the 21st Century

‘Mosques should be safe havens, not sites of terror’, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

Fairer, simpler, more flexible EU farm policy: MEPs vote on post-2020 reform

Calculators didn’t replace mathematicians, and AI won’t replace humans

At UN, Yemen Foreign Minister demands end to ‘Iranian-Houthi coup d’etat’

Parliament wants to grant EU consumers a “right to repair”

Which countries get the most sleep – and how much do we really need?

Brazilian mountain farmers reap recognition, through UN heritage listing

To what extent can renewable energy empower women in rural communities?

UN forum spotlights cities, where struggle for sustainability ‘will be won or lost’

Britain declares trade war on mainland Europe

Education should be like everything else. An on-demand service

Business can be profitable AND drive progress on societal priorities

Pride in health care during Pride Month: Are we ready for a dignified health care for LGBTQI+ patients?

EP negotiators: recovery plan crucial, but do not trade long-term for short-term

MEPs back EU partnership agreement with Armenia

Gaza probe finds ‘reasonable grounds’ Israeli forces committed international human rights violations

Minding the information gap and why it’s important in tackling COVID-19

Energy Union: deals on efficiency targets and governance

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s