Work. It’s that thing we do so that everything else is possible, right? Well, practically speaking, this may be true, but since most Americans will spend a significant amount of their life working, hopefully, it is a little more than that. I have found that when it comes to our work, it is so important to be doing something we actually enjoy and find meaningful, even if it’s difficult at times. The people we surround ourselves with at work is also very important. I thank the good Lord each day that I work in a great culture. My coworkers are supportive, encouraging and challenge me to be better. I know that for many Americans this is not their reality, so it’s no wonder so many are either unhappy or disengaged at work. So, to whatever extent you can, seek out quality friends at work. Here are a few good reasons why it’s worth making the effort.
Studies show that having work friends increases our happiness. Let’s go straight to the most obvious benefit of this: it makes us less likely to quit. But there are all kinds of smaller pros, as well. Friends make day-to-day work life more pleasant. They give us someone to eat lunch with (or even to exercise with during lunch.) And they give us someone to vent to, which helps us release stress in a healthy way instead of channeling it into meetings or emails.
Work friends increase our job satisfaction. Obviously being happy at work can help us be more positive about it. But work friends also help us see the big picture. After all, socializing with our coworkers helps us understand what our jobs are all about. As a result, we’re more likely to understand not only what’s being asked of us, but why. Friends are also more likely to volunteer to help each other out now and then, and to give each other positive feedback. It’s a good way to keep motivation high between performance reviews.
Work friends can increase productivity. If you think about it, that just makes good sense. The natural extension of helping each other out is volunteering to work on bigger initiatives together. Projects are more interesting when we have a friend to bounce ideas off of. We’ve also got increased incentive to perform because we’re invested in our friend’s success as well as our own.
Many of us work in industries that are changing, and that’s another good reason to cultivate friendships at work. The more people you know, the more likely you are to understand how your company is changing, and to be aware of opportunities on the horizon. And if you’ve been engaged in all that good teamwork mentioned above, people will be excited to see you going for those programs and jobs. Improving your long-term prospects benefits your whole family!
Keep all of these career benefits in mind when you’re looking for friends in the workplace. I will caution you though on one thing. Some people are easy to be friends with but aren’t terribly motivated at work. Be careful that you don’t allow them to drag you down and earn you the wrong reputation. Don’t hitch yourself to the person who always finds a reason to not get their work done on time, or consistently does the minimum. Instead, look for people who share similar values, work ethic and are focused on helping the company or organization move forward.
There are many reasons beyond what is written above to the benefits of having positive work relationships. I could probably be making more money right now and be in a higher level of leadership if I was working for a different organization, but for me, going to work each day and being around people I truly like is a gift and not something I take lightly. It really does make each day that much better. So make it your goal to not wall yourself off in a silo. Take some time to get to know your coworkers. Who knows, maybe you will find that one person who will help you reap the benefits of having a friend at work.