Have you ever wondered just how important work relationships are to our happiness at work and happiness in general? Michelle Gielan, author of the book “Broadcasting Happiness”, says that our social connections are, in fact, the greatest predictor of our happiness. What’s more, when it comes to the workplace satisfaction, Gallup’s research has repeatedly shown a strong link between “having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job”.
So, why is having a close friend at work so important? For one, it makes the day-to-day work more enjoyable, and two, it helps makes any personal or professional challenges more manageable. As the saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
Additionally, research has shown that when we increase the positive influence of our relationships, we increase our ability to flourish. And, of course, flourishing is the goal when it comes to being engaged at work.
Unfortunately, according to Gallup research, only 2 out of 10 U.S. employees strongly agree they have a best friend at work. Therefore, as an employer, to increase employee wellbeing and workplace satisfaction, it’s of utmost importance to create an environment with opportunities for employees to connect.
Here are 7 ways companies can help employees find that one close friend in the workplace:
- Create communal social spaces such as lunch areas to increase employee interaction. Make these areas as vibrant as possible perhaps with the aid of music.
- Having designated recreational areas equipped with comfy sofas, foosball tables, and gaming consoles are also an excellent way for colleagues to interact in a more relaxed and natural environment.
- With the point above being made, it’s, of course, essential that employees know that it’s OK to hang out and chat to their colleagues by the coffee machine or water cooler during working hours without getting “in trouble”.
- Many younger generations, such as millennials, being social may not mean traditional face-to-face interactions. Younger generations enjoy connecting through technology. Therefore, employers should allow employees to use via chat, social media, and email during work hours too.
- Create social clubs and sports teams. This can be done in the form of after work socials, sports teams, or coffee breaks. Download Benify’s free e-book 5 Keys to Unlocking Your Employees’ Potential to learn about the importance of social opportunities and their impact on employee wellbeing.
- Create groups and projects where employees can work and interact together. However, above all else, keep group numbers to a minimum. In large groups, there’s the risk that some employees may feel their voices get lost, or that the more outwardly confident employees dominate the conversation.
- While group conversations are great, getting employees to “buddy up” with another colleague is an even better way for employees to form new bonds. As an exercise, have pairs met one or two hours every couple of weeks to connect, bounce-off ideas, and get to know one another. Research has shown that when we meet strangers, if we can just find one thing in common, we have a foundation from which to build and an opportunity deepen the connection.
Want to learn more about the employee experience? Download our e-book, The New Employee Experience: How to maximise and optimise every step of the employee journey.