Do you have that one co-worker who invites you to lunch every Friday to celebrate the beginning of the upcoming weekend? What about a mailroom guy who remembers your birthday each year and slips a birthday card on your desk? If the answer is “no,” you are not alone. Too bad, because being friendly at work can add to workplace success and improve employee engagement.
Research shows that workers are happier in their jobs when they have friendships with co-workers. Gallup conducted a survey in 2013 entitled “State of the American Workplace” and discovered that close friendships in the office heightened employee satisfaction by 50 percent and employees are seven times more likely to take an active role in their projects at work.
Often times, employees are more engaged in their work and open to team projects because they have a strong supportive system in the office. This leads to camaraderie and a boost of positive energy.
[see also: Office Friendships Can Keep You Sane]
I recently spoke with a friend who manages a team of six; she needed to reschedule lunch plans because she was having a team building exercise with her group. She had been looking forward to the activity all summer. During our conversation she pointed out that it is important for leaders to set a work-friendly culture where employees feel they are part of a family. She expected the team building exercise to help leverage talents of the employees by letting ideas come forward.
People in organizations need to work together. So, managers and employees need to foster collaboration, trust, personal relationships, fun, and support. In an increasingly global and virtual environment, it can be challenging for employees and managers to cultivate these personal relationships. Building friendships takes proactive effort from everyone.
Of course there are downsides to friendships at work. No one wants social drama in the workplace. However, the downsides are manageable and the benefits of positive relationships are undeniable.
About the Author:
Tiffany Young is the manager of public relations for American Public University System. She has more than seven years of experience in media relations, event management, and public relations. She earned a certificate in Public Relations from the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies and received a B.A. in Mass Communications from Virginia State University.
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