The average American employee spends one third of their life at work, according to a study conducted by Andrew Naber, industrial-organizational psychologist and data scientist. Those 90,000 hours can become emotionally draining if you don’t have work friends to connect with.
While balancing the fine line between professional colleague and work friend can be tricky, it is worth the effort to make meaningful connections with coworkers. As human beings, we are wired to form positive social connections with one another. Workplace friendships aren’t only important for our personal happiness and well-being – they are also vital for career success, says CNBC.
Having a work friend can contribute to your success by providing honest feedback, sharing observations about your strengths and weaknesses, celebrating your achievements, and providing support during difficult challenges – at work and in life.
A Gallup study found that having work friends makes employees seven times more likely to be engaged in their roles. In addition, employees who report having friends at work experience higher levels of productivity, retention, and job satisfaction, explains Harvard Business Review.
Ideas to spark workplace friendships
- The next time you are leaving the office to grab a quick lunch, ask if any of your coworkers would care to join.
- Participate in office chit-chat from time to time. Even small conversations with a nearby coworker are valuable for overall productivity, according to a Gallup study.
- If comfortable, share your interests, hobbies, and passions with your team. You may find some commonalities among coworkers.
- Organize a casual happy hour and extend the invitation to your team members. A relaxed setting away from the office will give you the opportunity to learn more about them and make connections.
- Mix up your conversations:
“Hi, how are you?”
“Doing well, thanks.”
How many times do you hear this interaction per day? The next time you meet a coworker at the water cooler or in the break room, consider striking up a conversation about the weather, sports, TV shows, local news, food, hobbies, family, or travel.
Connecting with other people fulfills a basic human need on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Since we spend a significant portion of our lives at work, why not make those necessary social connections with our coworkers? Workplace friendships have the potential to help us achieve success in our careers and in other areas of life.