When we think about happiness in the workplace and satisfaction at work, we often focus on the work itself, whether we’re using our strengths, whether there are opportunities for development, and whether we receive recognition from our boss – all of which are, of course, important factors in feeling happy at work.
However, one crucial yet often underestimated element concerning our happiness at work is our connection to our fellow colleagues.
After all, the average full-time employee spends approximately 40 hours a week at the office. Our work life is a significant part of our lives, and we spend the best part of our day at work. Therefore, it’s not hard to see why work relationships are so important to employee happiness. Our colleagues, positively or negatively, contribute to our overall employee experience not to mention the affect colleagues have on our health, productivity, feelings of connection, and stress levels.
A recent article in Forbes called 5 Ways Social Connections Can Enhance Your Employee Wellness explained how “Work relationships are incredibly important to employee wellbeing. It’s about more than just ‘getting along’ with a co-worker. As humans, we crave contact and connection with other people.”
Countless studies have shown that our social connections greatly contribute to our health and wellbeing overall. Website Pursuit of Happiness summarises study findings concluding that, “People who have one or more close friendships appear to be happier” and that “The sharing of personal feelings (self-disclosure) plays a major role in the relief of stress and depression”.
Last year, consultancy firm EY revealed the results of a new study they conducted called Belonging Barometer which saw 39% of respondents say that when colleagues check in with them about how they are doing (personally and professionally), they feel the greatest sense of belonging at work. This response was popular across all generations with 35% of millennials, 40% of Gen Xers and 45% of baby boomers all agreeing. When was the last time you asked your colleagues how they feel or what they did on the weekend?
Australian Government Department of Health website, Head to Health, also emphasizes the importance of feeling connected to our colleagues stating, “If you and your co-workers experience positive mental wellbeing at work, it is likely to boost your mental health outside of work as well.” Our work life and personal life are not as separate as we may think – both are interconnected and one affects the other.
In our e-book 5 Keys to Unlocking Your Employees’ Potential, we share that an employee’s sense of belonging, social opportunities, and group interactions are key factors in experiencing happiness at work.
To develop positive relationships at work, employers need to create opportunities for employees to connect. This can be done in the form of after work socials, after work quizzes, sports teams, or coffee breaks.
Problem-solving and brainstorming tasks are also great ways of building unity, connection and trust between colleagues. Companies should try to create opportunities for collaboration where employees work in groups on specific projects.
Last but not least, the feelings of connection between colleagues leads to increased employee engagement and company loyalty. As the Forbes article explains, “Quality work relationships help build a strong company culture that emphasizes respect, loyalty and trust. Social connection provides a sense of cohesion in the office, which is essential for cultivating creativity, teamwork and collaboration.”
Want to learn more about the employee experience? Download our-book, “The New Employee Experience: How to maximise and optimise every step of the employee journey”.