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Many people frown upon the thought of mixing their private lives with their work lives.
They are content with coming in, getting the job done while keeping interactions strictly professional, then avoiding all personal contact with workmates outside of the office, sometimes believing this is the best way to focus on productivity.
However, several studies have revealed reasons why having work friends is important to a more productive, healthier worklife.
These are some benefits of having friends at work:
Having work friends boosts job satisfaction by 50%
According to a study by Gallup, employees feel more satisfied with their jobs when they have friends at work. In fact, employees who have best friends in the office are 21% more likely to feel the drive to do what they do best each day.
It also makes you healthier
Apart from the above, a Harvard research found that loneliness can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Interestingly, it was also found that people with 25 friends in their network had 20% less fibrinogen levels (blood-clotting protein) as compared to those with five friends.
Employees with work friends also tend to be more productive, resilient, less stressed
Having conversations with colleagues can improve job productivity, another research by MIT found – those with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
Further, it also helps decreases stress levels when colleagues socialise. In fact, just three hours of social time reduces an employee’s chances of having a bad day of work, to 10%.
Lastly, an O.C. Tanner study revealed that with friendships, one will be able to take on big challenges more easily. To affirm this, it was found that 75% of employees with work best friends feel more able to “take anything on”, versus just 58% of those with no work best friend.
Tips to making friends at work, whether you’re new or been here for long
Now that you know the benefits of having friends in the office, where do you start in making them (or making more, if you already have a small circle)?
First and foremost, lunch, of course
Having lunch with a colleague you hardly know or someone you’ve just met can be a little intimidating, especially if it takes you time to open up to someone.
That said, lunch is the easiest way to get to know someone, while you both unwind from the morning and bond over some food. Taking that first step will definitely open up the door to a deeper friendship, as we in the Human Resources team can attest to.
In fact, when I first joined here, my team encouraged me to ask some of our colleagues out for lunch and while the first lunch may have been a little awkward, to date, we’ve made it a point to have regular lunches together and it has made way for long-term friendships.
Find common interests to bond over
This is another fun and quick way to make lasting friends at the office, as the Human Resources team can once again attest to. Many people bond over common favourite cuisines and TV shows, and even common activities to enjoy. For most of the team here, talk about Thai food, Game of Thrones or delicious home-baked cakes and you’re guaranteed plenty of great conversations.
Aside from these suggestions, the infographic below details some other ways to foster friendships at work, with the sources cited:
Graphics / Provided
The first Managing Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace online course will be launched in December.
Register your interest for the course at the introductory price of SGD199.