Would you say that you have friends at your job? Many people think that “friends” and “work” are irreconcilable concepts, but they shouldn’t be. In fact, even though the number of people who report having work friends is decreasing, finding human connection at work is still highly important. A study of UK workers revealed that 70% of people thought their work friends were crucial to feeling happy at work… and people who are happy at work are likely to be more productive as well as perform better. It’s much easier to feel comfortable working with people with whom you’ve already built a rapport, whether that be from a shared appreciation of cute cat photos or a love of colour-coded files. Wondering how to build these kind of professional relationships and encourage them within your team? Read on!
How company culture plays a role
Building an overall company culture that encourages open communication and collaboration like these top companies is also key to ensuring healthy work relationships. Successful companies recognize that their employees’ satisfaction is closely linked to the satisfaction of their customers, and act accordingly to encourage it. Given that 79% of people say that their relationship with their co-workers is a high engagement driver, it’s important to create a culture in which friendly relationships can flourish. This can include, at the highest level, creating a mission statement that valorizes employee sharing at a more day-to-day level. It includes simply being open to communication and not repressing employees’ natural desire to be friendly with one another.
Information-sharing is key
It’s easier to transmit information as well as devise new ideas with a work group who’s already built a relationship. Being able to connect with larger groups ensures that information can be better shared and diffused within social platforms in the company, leading to increased creativity and ingenuity- two heads are better than one, after all! Building connections starts by establishing a rapport, which is why companies like Google push employees to mix and mingle at lunch so that new connections can be built across departments. Helping employees connect virtually with tools such as a social intranet can also be beneficial, particularly for workforces that are larger, distributed, or remote, as it ensures that everyone can meet online and establish a rapport despite being physically distant. This could include creating a section within your intranet for welcoming new employees, sharing funny stories of the day, or even posting cat photos- whatever fits your company’s direction best!
How this works for you
Recognizing the importance of work friendships is the first step- now how can you apply that directly to your own actions? The first step is simply to be welcoming and friendly in your own communications and set a good example for everyone around you. This might seem basic, but ensuring that employees feel comfortable enough to talk to each other and you about their lives will ensure that they’re comfortable enough to talk out any workplace issues that might arise. This is as simple as praising people who do a good job- everyone likes deserved compliments! It also includes simply being interested in their lives inside and outside work; showing interest in people is the first step to building lasting relationships.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything should be shared at work, nor does it mean that you need to constantly be concentrating on building relationships to the detriment of actually doing your job. It does mean, however, that there are concrete advantages to allowing a more open communication style when at work and allowing people to build relationships… so go out there and make some friends!