Can friendships at work enhance employee wellbeing and productivity?

David Price – CEO of Health Assured

January 29 2016

As humans, we are inherently social creatures. This not only applies to our personal lives, but also how we forge and establish strong working relationships and ties within our jobs. The ability to establish an honest, emotional connection with our colleagues can potentially help us a build a stronger connection to the organisation we work for. Whilst many employers may perceive friendships in the workplace to be a distraction from the tasks employees are hired to complete, a detached and unsociable atmosphere can actually cause more harm than small periods of chatter. If employees don’t feel connected to the people they work with, they will either become disengaged or seek alternative employment in order to establish these connections. Both of these scenarios are equally harmful to a business and its productivity. The importance of a team A large part of a how an employee experiences the workplace derives from the relationship they form with the team they work alongside. If employees fail to form a bond with their co-workers, or even worse, if they completely dislike their colleagues, then they may be unlikely to form a strong commitment to the organisation in question. Social structures within the work environment are important. If a team who works together get on well, they are likely to develop a mini community, who will be there to support each other and pick one another up in times of stress or turmoil within the workplace. Imagine if there is a time where a deadline has been pushed forward and employees are asked if they will work later to help complete the project. Employees are more likely to agree to this request if they feel a strong kinship to their colleagues. In this sense, colleagues become almost like a tangible representation of the organisation itself. Friendships and growth within the workplace Developing close ties with co-workers can make all the difference to the way employees feel at work. Having someone to confide in, seek advice, and to break away from work-related stress from time to time can encourage a positive relationship with the organisation, increasing the likelihood that employees will enjoy coming to work. Workplace friendships also help employees see a future within the organisation, as it gives them the prospect of growing and developing personally and professionally within the business. Developing meaningful connections with co-workers including members of the management team provides opportunities for individuals to be mentored by people they respect and admire, acting as a guide to help build the path of their future career. Employees represent the foundation of any business and when you find those who fit with your company’s needs and aspirations, as employer, you should do everything in your power to keep them happy in their role. Businesses can greatly reduce the possibility of employees seeking other employment opportunities by facilitating team bonding and friendship formation, creating a culture of inclusion and togetherness, which makes the workplace a happier and more fruitful place to be.

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