Having a Best Friend at Work

Recently I heard a story from a colleague that I wanted to share. She had taken a position in a different agency. It was a very large agency and people tended to keep to themselves. She was desperate for a friend, a coffee/lunch buddy. She eventually asked a coworker, “Hey what are you doing for lunch today?” The coworker said, “I’m giving blood at lunch, want to join me?” And the rest is history. They now refer to each other as “blood brothers” and they donate blood together every couple months.

One of the questions I get a lot of push back from on the employee engagement survey is “I have a best friend at work.” Employees want to down play it or they don’t like the idea that you have to make friends at work. I hear arguments like “I don’t come to work to make friends, I come to work to work.” My argument is if you want to feel like you belong at work, if you want to feel like you matter and you’re cared for, having a best friend at work is extremely important in our performance, workplace health and overall happiness.

In the article, Why Fostering a Culture of Compassion in the Workplace Matters, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade states there is reason to believe – what she refers to as “companionate love” in the workplace (the scenario I described above) – is not only appealing, but also is vital to employee morale, teamwork and customer satisfaction.

Companionate love is shown “when colleagues who are together day in and day out, ask and care about each other’s work and even non-work issues,” Barsade says. “They are careful of each other’s feelings. They show compassion when things don’t go well. And they also show affection and caring — and that can be about bringing somebody a cup of coffee when you go get your own, or just listening when a co-worker needs to talk.”

One of the most significant findings in the study was that a culture of companionate love reduces employees’ withdrawal from work. The researchers also discovered that a culture of companionate love led to higher levels of employee engagement with their work via greater teamwork and employee satisfaction.

I encourage all of you to show compassion and reach out to others in your work environment and in the workplace. We all have an innate desire to connect and research shows that when we can find that meaningful connection at work, we are happier, more productive, less stressed, more resilient and more engaged. Take time to allow for social connection at work. It’s worth it!

Read the full article here:

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