Most of us spend 40 hours per week at our jobs. It’s probably pretty important that we like going into work then, right? Having a friend at work can help.
According to studies, having a “best friend” at the office is a major key to workplace happiness. In fact, Gallup’s study found that those who said they have a best friend at work were up to 43 percent more likely to report having received recognition and praise for their work in the last week. And that’s not all that has been found in the connection between work friendships and productivity: a LinkedIn study showed that 46 percent of those surveyed worldwide believe having friends at work is important to their overall happiness.
In general, we all want people to like us—it’s just part of human nature. Building relationships with our peers can help with motivation too. When you can alleviate some of the stress you might normally associate with work by having someone to chat about things with, you’re going to be more productive. And, when you make a connection to someone on your team, you develop an automatic sense of responsibility—if you don’t do your part, you’re not just letting the team down, you’re also letting down someone who means something to you.
For the nonprofit sector in particular, relationships matter. They’re how you make real life connections to the causes you want to support. Once you have a friend that understands your mission and the goals you’re working towards, they can be a source for you to lean on because they just get it.
If you’re new to the workplace, or if you’re just unfamiliar with sparking a conversation at the office that’s not about work, try some of these things in order to develop that friendship.
- Ask your coworker about how their weekend was, and don’t settle for the “it was good” response. Talk about how you went fishing with your dad or went to your kid’s soccer game and see if they reciprocate. When they get to see the real you behind the office you, they’re more likely to open up and talk about their personal lives.
- Add them on social media. Start off by making a LinkedIn connection (because it’s professional, duh!) and when you feel comfortable, follow your coworkers on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. By engaging with them outside of work, you can let each other see into glimpses of your world separate from the office. When you know what they care about, it’ll be easier to identify their passions and see what you can collaborate on.
- See if they want to grab lunch or take a mid-afternoon walk with you. This way you have a limit on how much time you can allot to hanging out with them so that you don’t blur any lines if you don’t end up hitting it off.
You have to be able to maintain a balance with your workplace best friend too. Though it does help to have someone to talk to about things that aren’t always work-related, you should also recognize what’s appropriate for the office and what should stay out. Make sure that if you’re being buddy-buddy with someone at work, you’re not giving others a reason to believe you’re being exclusive or that you’re not opening up conversations to them as well.
Overall, having a friend at work is an important part of liking your job. When you surround yourself with those you care about and those who care about you, you have the opportunity to collaborate your strengths and create a final product you’re both proud of.