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Friendship is in the Air

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s time to celebrate relationships with loved ones. The category of “loved ones” typically includes a partner, family, and friends. What about work friends, though? Where do they fit in? Many people avoid befriending coworkers for fear of conflicts that might arise, such as only one friend receiving a promotion.

However, humans seek out close relationships to fulfill social needs for belonging, connection, and support. Friendship is imperative to living a gratifying life, and work friends are critical for long-term happiness. The lengthening of workdays means spending more time in the office surrounded by work colleagues. That leaves less time to socialize with friends outside of work after business hours. This is the perfect reason to expand your social circle to include officemates. Read below for some benefits of cultivating close bonds at work.

  • Increase productivity. Having a friend to chat with at work in between tasks will boost spirits. Feeling happy in the office will help you stay engaged throughout the day and produce higher quality work. People with friends in the office are seven times more likely to be engaged in their job. This positive energy can help you move through tasks more efficiently and successfully.
  • Higher job satisfaction. Employees with friends at work find their jobs more enjoyable. About 50% of people with a best friend at work report feeling strongly connected to their company. People will be more motivated to persevere during difficult times if they have close relationships with colleagues.
  • Better health. Creating supportive bonds with coworkers is linked to less stress at work and greater happiness overall. Having a close friend to experience good times and bad times with makes people feel supported. People who develop close and meaningful friendships are even likely to live longer.

The workplace is competitive, though, so navigating the transition when you or your friend steps into a managerial role can be challenging. No matter who gets promoted, the relationship will inevitably change. Let’s take a look at how to maintain a friendship during a friend-to-boss transition.

  • Communicate openly. Take some time to talk to your friends about the new position. Create an open dialogue so each person can describe how this change makes them feel. Discussing potential feelings of jealousy right from the beginning will help avoid them from negatively affecting the friendship down the road.
  • Be honest. Explain some of your new stressors and responsibilities to your friends to help ease the transition. Tell your peers that you want to remain friends but acknowledge how the previous relationship will be different now. Have a conversation about establishing new boundaries in the friendship, which might include not discussing work-related topics anymore.
  • Treat everyone fairly. Being friends with subordinates when you’re in a leadership role can be challenging when it comes to deciding on bonuses, raises, and promotions. It can be tempting to give extra support and resources to your friends, but leave personal biases aside unless your friends truly deserve them.

The rewards of establishing close friendships at work greatly outweigh the troubles that might come with them, so invite your coworkers to happy hour. Who knows, they might end up becoming some of your most cherished friends!

An important element in achieving career and organizational success is being well connected both within and outside your organization. Learn more here:

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