Why do businesses need to promote friendship at work?

28 Jul, 2019
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The workplace is where you spend the majority of your time in a day. Sometimes, a person spends more time with their colleagues than their friends and family. A average person spends about 23.8% of their adult lives at work. So it’s not surprising that you might form strong bonds, even long-term friendships with your colleagues.

There’s a lot of evidence that workplace friendships fulfill a basic human need for companionship, and are necessary to some degree. A recent article by CNBC suggests that having friends at work is not only important for you health and mental well-being but is also key for your productivity and overall success at work. A study by Harvard Business review claims that having close friends at work can increase employee engagement by seven times.

Benefits of having friends at work

Having meaningful friendships at work may actually be a psychological necessity according to psychologists Sigmund Freud, John Donne, and Abraham Maslow. Strong friendship at work is important for health, performance and overall happiness.

Increased Productivity

A study by Gallup suggests that women who have friends at work are twice as likely to be engaged at work compared to women who say otherwise. People who have friends at work look forward to coming to work. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report found that only 20 percent of employees have a best friend at work. But if that rate increased to 60 percent, organizations would see 36 percent fewer safety incidents, seven percent more engaged customers, and 12 percent higher profit. According to Harvard business review coworkers who turned out to be friends, had significantly higher performance as judged by the supervisors.

High Job Satisfaction and employee retention

The more friends you have at work the more likely you are to stay longer at work.The study found that 7% of all employees globally have no friends at work and over half have five or fewer total friends. 62% who have five or fewer friends feel lonely either always or very often and 72% say they aren’t engaged. 60% would be more inclined to stay with their company longer if they had more friends. This was especially true for younger employees. Gen Z (74%) and Millennials (69%) would be more inclined to stay with their company longer if they had more friends than Gen X (59%) and Baby Boomers (40%).

Higher workplace wellness

Research shows that, after food and shelter, belonging is a fundamental human need. Given that we spend between 8 and 9 hours of our day at work, we have significantly less time to fulfill our social needs outside of work The workplace, where we spend such a large portion of our time, is an ideal place to foster the positive connections we all need — not just for our well-being but also for our productivity and health. Having no friends at work increases the risk of a heart attack by 50%. Having friends at work allows individuals to share their stress and get constructive advise about their issues. This has proven to be extremely beneficial for the mental health of employees. Having friends at work who support you enriches your experience and gives you a sense of belonging and positivity that can make for a great work environment. Strong workplace relationships have found to reduce overall levels of depression and anxiety friendship increases the brain’s production of oxytocin but being around a friend also decreases cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Work-related stress is a huge problem that could potentially be alleviated by friends in the office.

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