Are you friends with your work colleagues ?
Even though each and every one of us may have different reasons for feeling happy, there are many commonalities in this experience. There are multiple factors that have an effect on workplace happiness, such as job design aligned with human motivation principles, workplace design addressing to the needs of security, concentration and interactivity; clear, transparent and timely communication; feeling belonging and proud of one’s company; alignment between the organisational and personal vision, etc.
However, what affects the overall feelings of the team the most is the quality of the relationship the team members have between each other and with their management. Human beings are essentially social creatures and as such interpersonal relationships are of central importance for happiness. We need other human beings and we like being around them. Whether we are introverted or extraverted, spending time in social settings enhances our levels of well-being. The Gallup Health-ways Well-being Index poll recently found that people need to spend 6-7 hours per day in social settings, and up to 9 if their job is stressful, to enhance or maintain well-being.
From a business perspective, there are very clear benefits for organisations that pay attention to relationships. Positive relationships generate enrichment, vitality and learning for individuals and organisations. This implies more than people merely getting along with one another, avoiding toxicity in their interactions. It is obvious that positive relationships are satisfying and preferred by people, but the benefits extend well beyond just providing a pleasant experience. Positive relationships have been shown to cultivate higher levels of mutual benefits, foster healthy team functioning, raise levels of commitment to the organisation, create higher levels of energy, cost reduction, time saving and project performance. Leaders who enable positive functioning of an organisation deliberately invest into the formation of positive interpersonal relationships at work. Here are some ways to do it:
- On-boarding with some elements of self-disclosure (enabling the creation of personal connections);
- Slow on-boarding;
- Facilitating non-linear reciprocity between employees;
- Using relationships-friendly language, such as words “together” and “we”;
- Running positive energy network diagnostic and ensuring that every team has positive energisers;
- Facilitating informal get-togethers (free lunch, birthday celebrations, family-friendly parties).
Is it a good idea to be friends with your colleagues? Whenever I ask this question in my training sessions, and argument always ensues. “Absolutely”, answer some, “It’s way more nice to work with people who are your friends”. “Absolutely not”, say others “If this friendship fails, then the whole work climate would get affected”. What is your opinion ? If science is to be trusted, having a best friend at work makes you seven times as likely to be engaged.